Wednesday, September 16, 2020

A Few of My Favorite Dentrix Reports

Dentrix has so many great reports! There are end-of-day reports such as the Day Sheet and Deposit Slip that you run on a daily basis, reports that help you to gauge the overall health of your practice including production and collections, and so many more. 

Here are just a few of my favorite reports and how I like to use them:

Referral Reports

There are two reports for referral sources: Referred By Patient and Referred By Doctor/Other. I recommend running both of these reports on a monthly basis.

  • The Referred By Patient report can be used for internal marketing. If a patient refers a friend or family member, it’s a nice touch to send them a thank-you note. Some offices thank patients for referrals by sending them a gift card for a coffee shop or some other small token of appreciation.
  • The Referred By Doctor/Other report is for referrals from other doctors and other sources such as paid advertising or marketing campaigns. This report is especially important if your office has invested in these types of marketing campaigns. When the report is created it will show the number of referred patients by referral source and the production that was generated by those patients. You can use this information to evaluate the return on your investment of the marketing campaign and if it will be worth continuing in the future. 
  • For additional information on these reports, read Grow Your Practice with Patient Referrals and Tracking the Value of Social Media Marketing in Dentrix Magazine.

Production Summary Report

The Production Summary report, which is available in the Practice Analysis Reports, can be generated by procedure code category or by a procedure code range. This report shows the quantity preformed of each procedure code as well as the total production generated by that code for a selected date range. It also provides the average fee for the procedure and the percentage of the total production generated by that procedure code.


Here are a couple of scenarios when this report is especially useful. When evaluating how much of a product to order to have available for sale in your office, such as electric toothbrushes or mouth rinses, it’s helpful to know how many have been sold over the last month. Reviewing the average fee charged for the product can also help you to evaluate the fee you charge for the product. Another scenario where the Production Summary Report is very helpful, is when considering purchasing a new piece of equipment, such as a new panorex or CT machine. You can review how many of these procedures have been completed and what the average charged fee was, to compare costs and see if the new equipment will be a good investment for the office. 

Treatment Plan Statistics Analysis

The Treatment Plan Statistics Analysis can be generated as a comparison of treatment-planned vs. completed procedures by provider. This report can be run on a weekly or monthly basis for each provider in your office. 


I find this report to be helpful because if the percentage of completed procedures compared to treatment-planned procedures is low, there are several items to evaluate. Are there appointment times available for patients to complete their treatment? If not, you could consider adding additional office hours in order to offer more available appointments. Are patients accepting their treatment plans? If not, does your team need additional training on patient education? A good goal when reviewing this report would be for 75 percent of treatment-planned procedures to be completed. 

Dentrix has so many great reports. The ones I mentioned are only a few of so many. If you would like to review all the reports available in Dentrix, you can find this information in the Dentrix G7.3 Report Reference

E-mail me with questions at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.


Charlotte Skaggs, Certified Dentrix Trainer

Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for almost 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.



Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Rescheduling Cancelled Appointments

Last week I wrote a post about implementing a more lenient cancellation policy for those patients who cancel their appointment due to being ill. During this pandemic, encouraging patients to stay home if they don’t feel well can protect the health and safety of your staff and other patients.  

I suggested using the Wait/Will Call option instead of breaking the appointment for these types of cancellations. Once you have cancelled an appointment and moved it to the Unscheduled List, I would suggest waiting two weeks before following up with the patient to reschedule. You can use the Unscheduled List to quickly find patients on the Wait/Will Call list and contact them to reschedule their appointment. I would recommend using the Office Journal to record the contact made with the patient and what was said. From the Unscheduled List, you can easily access the Office Journal and drag an appointment directly to an open spot in your schedule.

It’s very important to keep the Unscheduled List up to date, so that when you’re following up with patients on the list, you don’t contact patients who may have already rescheduled. You can keep the Unscheduled List up to date with a little team training. Most likely, you have seen this warning message when trying to schedule an appointment.


Train your team that when they see this message it means that the patient already has an appointment on the Unscheduled List. 

If you click Yes to this warning, the patient’s Family Appointment List will open. From here you can click the appointment labeled as <Unscheduled Appt>, and then click the View Appt button. This opens the Appointment Information dialog box, which will have all of the appointment information (procedures, providers, appointment length, and so forth) already attached to the appointment. From here you can manually assign an operatory, date and time, or use the Pinboard or Wait/Will Call buttons to move the appointment to either of those lists.

If you click No to this warning, Dentrix assumes you want to create a completely new appointment for the patient and opens a blank Appointment Information dialog box. This is where you run into problems with keeping your Unscheduled List up to date. If you re-create the appointment for the patient, the old, broken (or Wait/Will Call) appointment still remains on your Unscheduled List. Instead of recreating the appointment, you should train your team to open the Unscheduled List, find the appointment, and reschedule it from there.  When you reschedule an appointment from the Unscheduled List, the appointment is removed from the list, which will keep your list up to date and more accurate in order to follow up with patients.

By keeping your Unscheduled List up to date, your office will have a great resource from which to contact patients to reschedule appointments. This can help to fill openings in your schedule and avoid unscheduled time. Email me with questions at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.


Charlotte Skaggs, Certified Dentrix Trainer

Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for almost 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.



Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Dealing with Cancellations in a COVID-19 World

I’m normally a proponent of having a strict cancellation policy in place in your office. I believe that while we should respect our patients’ time and take them back for appointments in a timely manner, our patients should respect our time as well by not cancelling at the last minute or arriving late for their appointments. 

However, during these challenging times, I feel we need to be more lenient with our cancellation policy when it comes to dealing with patients who are cancelling due to illness. For example, if a patient has an appointment today, but they call and say they’re not feeling well, we shouldn’t penalize them for canceling, because they’re helping to keep your staff and other patients safe by not potentially spreading the COVID-19 virus. 

Usually, I recommend breaking appointments for last-minute cancellations. Breaking an appointment in Dentrix counts as a missed appointment, reflecting negatively on the patient. You can track the number of missed appointments in the patient’s Family File. 


However, if patients call to cancel their appointment because they aren’t feeling well, or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, rather than breaking their appointment, you should mark it as Wait/Will Call within the appointment. This will move the appointment to the Unscheduled List, which you can use to reschedule the appointment at a later time without it counting negatively as a missed appointment.  


Whether you are breaking an appointment or marking it as Wait/Will Call, I would recommend making a detailed note of the conversation with the patient in his or her Office Journal. This way the entire team will be able to read the note and know why the appointment was cancelled, and why it was marked as either broken or Wait/Will Call. 



Implementing a more lenient cancellation policy as we deal with the pandemic is just one way we can continue to evolve in how we work and communicate with our patients. Train your team on how to deal with last-minute cancellations, and make sure they know what happens with a patient appointment when it is broken or when it is moved to Wait/Will Call so patients won’t be penalized when they cancel due to not feeling well. In the long run, this will help you to protect the health and safety of your staff and other patients. And when those cancellations occur, it’s equally important to make sure you use the Office Journal to document the communication you have with patients, so that everyone on your team can see the reasons why appointments are cancelled or rescheduled. 

Please email me with questions at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.



Charlotte Skaggs, Certified Dentrix Trainer

Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for almost 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

A New and Improved Health History

Prior to Dentrix G7, Medical Alerts were used to enter a patient’s drug allergies and medical conditions. The Health History module, introduced in Dentrix G7, uses a more comprehensive approach and allows you to separate medical conditions and allergies, as well as document any patient-reported medications

Once you have documented a patient’s medical conditions, allergies, and medications, you have the option to mark these health history items as critical, which is indicated by a red cross Health History icon, which displays in various locations throughout Dentrix, such as on the patient’s appointment. This is very helpful to let all team members know that the patient has a medical condition that they should be aware of.


I was excited to see all the improvements implemented in the Health History module; and in Dentrix G7.3, the Health History module got even better!

What’s considered a critical medical condition, allergy, or medication may vary from office to office. For example, most offices consider a pre-medication requirement to be critical. Some offices consider drug allergies, such as a latex allergy, to be critical. The health history items your office decides should be labeled as critical and which items should have a pop-up warning, will depend on your doctor’s preferences.

 Customizing the critical and pop-up settings for health history items is now much easier. Once you have had a conversation with your doctor and decided which health history items should be designated as critical and should display a pop-up warning, you can now change the settings for multiple items all at once. Select the medical conditions you want to change the settings for, and then right-click to set the desired options. 


Once you have set the desired options, you also have the option to apply those settings to all patients with the applicable medical condition or just the patients to which the medical condition will be added in the future.


The improvements that Dentrix has made to the Health History in recent versions can help your office to keep more current and accurate records regarding your patients' health. This is vital as most offices no longer have a paper chart to refer to for patient health histories. By designating a medical condition to pop up or be considered critical, you can easily communicate important health information to your team. 

For more information about the Health History module and its features, read the following:

If you have questions on this topic, email me at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.


Charlotte Skaggs, Certified Dentrix Trainer

Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for almost 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Efficiently Posting Insurance Payments in Dentrix

 Last week I wrote a blog about efficiently posting patient payments. This week, I wanted to give some tips on the best ways to post dental insurance payments. 

When posting insurance payments, you have the option to post a payment to an individual claim by double-clicking an open claim in the patient Ledger. 


You can also post a payment as a batch insurance payment. I really like using the batch insurance feature because it helps you to post payments accurately. You enter the total amount of the check, and then allocate payment among the patients it applies to. If your allocations do not match up with the total amount of the check, Dentrix will warn you that your amounts don’t match. This can save you a lot of time by knowing right away that amounts don’t match instead of at the end of the day while running your end of day reports.


Whether you decide to use the batch insurance feature or post to an individual claim, I recommend you take the time to post itemized insurance payments and update the payment table. By updating the payment table, Dentrix will remember the amount the insurance company will pay for a procedure code. This is especially helpful when treatment planning that procedure code for any patient covered under the same insurance plan. 

Another feature that can be helpful when posting insurance payments is the ability to split an insurance claim. This allows you to split a claim while retaining any notes attached to the claim. This feature is beneficial when the insurance plan pays for some of the procedures on the claim but requires more information to pay for the other procedures. 

For example, if you file a dental insurance claim for a crown and a core build-up, the insurance may only pay for the core build-up until they receive the date that the crown was seated. In this case you could split the insurance claim, post the payment to the core build-up, and the claim for the crown will remain outstanding. This is beneficial because the outstanding claim will remain on your Insurance Aging Report in order for you to track and follow up on the claim. Dentrix will also calculate patient portions and insurance portions of the family balance correctly when the claim remains outstanding. 

Posting patient payments and insurance payments efficiently results in cleaner accounting for your office and more accurate reports. The features in Dentrix can help you to post patient and insurance payments more accurately. If you have questions, email me at  vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.

For additional information about insurance efficiency, read Three Steps For Efficient Insurance Systems in Dentrix Magazine.


Charlotte Skaggs, Certified Dentrix Trainer

Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for almost 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Efficiently Posting Patient Payments for Cleaner Accounting and Accurate Reporting

 All dental offices know how to post a patient payment in the Dentrix Ledger, but is your office posting payments in the most efficient way? Posting patient payments efficiently can save your office time, result in cleaner accounting and more accurate reporting. 

When posting a patient payment, there are three options in the Enter Payment dialog box you should be aware of that will dramatically affect reports and accounting:


Posting Payments to a Provider

While the default setting is to split a payment by provider, you have the option to post a payment to a specific provider. What does that mean and why is it important? Ideally, the provider of a procedure should have the payment posted to them for that procedure. For example, if Dr. A completed a filling, it’s important that the payment is posted to Dr. A. If Dr. A is paid based on collections, he would not receive credit for the procedure unless the payment is posted to him. 

Similarly, if a patient has an exam with the doctor, and a prophy with the hygienist, the payment should be split between the providers. You will find that your reports will make more sense when payments are posted this way. Do you have inactive providers who still show up on reports, like the Provider AR Totals report, appearing as if they are owed a large balance or have a credit? That’s because payments weren’t being split by provider. If you have this problem in your office, don’t worry! In Dentrix G7.3 there is a feature that can help to correct this issue. The Provider Credit Balances Manager in the Ledger makes allocating provider credits much easier, by providing you with a list of accounts which have provider credits and allowing you to allocate credit balances with just a few mouse clicks. 

Posting Payments by Patient

By default, the selected patient in the Ledger appears as the patient to whom the payment will be applied. You have the option to split the payment by family members, which will allocate the payment between family members who have an account balance. If Split By Family Members is selected, it’s important to know that the payment is posted to the oldest family balance. 

Similar to the way posting payments to providers works, it’s important to post payments for procedures to the patient who actually had them completed. Have you ever had to audit a family account and experienced that finding which patient actually owes for which procedure is like finding a needle in a haystack? This typically happens when payments are posted to the guarantor for all patients in the family. You can correct this problem by allocating credit balances. In Dentrix G7.3, allocating balances doesn’t affect the aging of the account, so you don’t have to worry about aging being altered by making these allocations. 

Choosing a Split Method

When you choose a method for splitting a payment, it determines the way in which payments are applied to the account. There are four options to choose from:


  • Percentage Payments - This option divides the payment among the providers based on the providers percentage of the amount owed. 
  • FIFO - FIFO stands for "first in, first out" and will apply the payment to the oldest completed procedures first.
  • Equal Payments - This split method splits the payment equally among the providers who are owed a balance.
  • Guarantor Estimate - This is my preferred method of splitting payments because it takes into account what Dentrix is estimating insurance to pay for a procedure. So, it’s looking at the patient portion for the procedure and then allocating the payment among the providers based on that insurance estimate. 

Once you’ve decided which payment options are best for your office, you can set them as default by selecting Settings right from the Enter Payment dialog box. 


Posting patient payments efficiently results in cleaner accounting and more accurate reports. It will be easier to answer questions patients may have regarding their account by making it more clear which patients in the family still owe a balance. If your office doesn’t currently post payments to the provider of the service and to the patient who received treatment, this may be something to consider. If you have questions, e-mail me at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.

For additional information about allocating credit balances between providers, read Are Your Provider Credits Making Your Accounts Off Balance? in Dentrix Magazine.


Charlotte Skaggs, Certified Dentrix Trainer

Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for almost 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Verifying Patient Insurance Information


How often do you verify patients’ insurance benefits in your practice? If you want to provide patients with the most accurate estimates, it’s important to know what their insurance will pay for a specific procedure. I recommend that you verify a patient’s benefits at least every six months. It’s quick and easy to verify insurance benefits by using the eCentral Insurance Manager. You can access the eCentral Insurance Manager from the patient’s Family File by clicking the “E” icon. Once you have entered the patient’s information, you can find general benefit information such as maximums, deductibles, and coinsurance amounts. 

When you initially verify insurance benefits for a patient, there are many important details you should look for in their benefits. For example, is there a missing tooth exclusion? What is the replacement period for crowns and prosthetics? 

You can use the insurance plan note in the coverage table to document this type of information. Maximums, deductibles, and co-insurance amounts can all be entered into the coverage table and will be used to calculate insurance estimates. You can also copy the benefit information from the eCentral Insurance Manager directly into the patient’s Document Center in Dentrix. When something is added to the patient’s Document Center, it is automatically labeled with today’s date. You can refer back to that date in order to see the date the benefits were last verified. 

Once you have the insurance benefits entered initially, the information will need to be updated regularly. I suggest reviewing the patients who are coming in for an appointment the next day. Check the patient’s Document Center for the date of the last insurance verification. If it has been six months or more, reverify the benefits. 

When reverifying insurance benefits, here are some important things to look for:

  • How much of the insurance maximum has been used?
  • Has the deductible been met?
  • Has the patient met his or her frequency limitation for an exam or a prophy?
By obtaining this information, it will help you to collect patients’ out-of-pocket expenses more accurately.

If you are an out-of-network provider for a patient’s insurance, it can be helpful to know what the insurance usual and customary charge is for common procedures. This will help you to provide patients with more accurate estimates. A few insurance companies will provide you with that information over the phone. The information can then be entered into the insurance plan’s payment table. 

The payment table can also be updated whenever you post an insurance payment for a claim. I highly recommend updating the payment table, because the payment table applies to all patients in Dentrix that are covered under that particular insurance plan. The only time I advise offices not to update the payment table is if a procedure is denied or pays less for a reason specific to a particular patient. For example, if a prophy isn’t covered because a patient has exceeded their frequency limit, I would not update the payment table. 

Verifying patent’s insurance benefits frequently helps your office to provide your patients with more accurate insurance estimates and keep your records up to date. Using eCentral Insurance Manager makes the process quick and easy. If you have questions on this topic, please e-mail me at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.


Charlotte Skaggs, Certified Dentrix Trainer

Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for almost 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Supporting Your Hygiene Department

While dental offices were closed for non-emergency treatment, patients weren’t able to get their teeth cleaned. Now that offices have re-opened, their hygiene departments have been very busy catching up with their patients who are behind on their recall schedule. Many offices are booking months out for hygiene appointments. 

Here are some ideas of how you can help your hygiene department during their busy time. 



Have your front desk team review the hygiene appointment the day before the patient arrives. The front desk can save your hygienist time by checking for the following information:
  • Is the patient due for X-rays? This is probably something you are already tracking in the Continuing Care module. Take a quick look to see if it’s something you’ll need to plan for during the appointment.
  • Is the patient eligible for fluoride treatment? You can usually find this information where you store other insurance information, such as limitations and exceptions. I like to keep track of this type of information in the Insurance Plan Note in the dental insurance Coverage Table.
  • Does the patient have any medical conditions to be concerned about such as pre-medication requirements? This information can be documented in the patient’s Health History.
Following the visit, most offices have their hygienist schedule the patient’s next recall appointment. While your hygienist is so busy, you may want to consider having the front desk set the appointment complete and schedule the patient’s next appointment. 

In some offices, the dental assistants are responsible for taking patients’ X-rays. This could be an option for your practice if you are finding that your hygienist doesn’t have time to take X-rays because of a busy schedule. 

Use the ASAP List in Dentrix to find patients who have scheduled an appointment but would like to come in sooner. This is a great way to fill your schedule if you have a last-minute cancellation. 
You can contact patients by phone or by using the Fill Appointment feature in Dentrix to text a group of patients and offer them an available appointment. Especially while available hygiene appointments are limited, it’s important that your hygienist doesn’t have any unfilled appointment times. 

Your dental office staff should work as a team. As such, we need to support each other for the benefit of the patient. While your hygienists are so busy catching up with recall appointments that had to be postponed due to COVID-19, the rest of the team can help to support them by doing some of the things I mentioned above. 

If you have any questions, please e-mail me at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.


Charlotte Skaggs, Certified Dentrix Trainer

Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for almost 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

A Few Thoughts About Working with Patients Who Have a Balance


I am a big proponent for patients paying their portion at the time of service. However, there are inevitably times when patients will have an account balance even after their insurance has paid. This may be because they have exceeded their annual insurance maximum, there was a frequency limitation, or some other reason. 

Below are some ideas on ways you can work with patients with a balance owed.

When you receive an insurance payment and the patient owes a balance, I would suggest creating a billing statement immediately after posting the insurance payment instead of waiting to send a statement during your regular billing cycle. This will help patients to be aware of their balance and pay it more quickly, improving your cash flow. 

Then, when you create your regular monthly billing statements, you can select the If Not Billed Since option and enter the date you last created monthly billing statements. This will avoid sending another statement to patients you billed when receiving an insurance payment. 

When I send billing statements, I also like to save a copy of the statement in the patient’s Document Center. If a patient calls with a question once they receive the statement, it’s nice to have a copy, so you can see exactly what they’re looking at. 

If you need to make notes about a patient’s financial situation, you make those in the Guarantor Notes in the patient Ledger. You’ll find the Guarantor Notes are accessible from all modules related to patient finances, such as the Collection Manager and Payment Agreement Manager, which makes them very convenient to view. You can even print Guarantor Notes on the Aging Report. 

If you make a formal financial arrangement with a patient, it can be entered as a Billing/Payment Agreement in the patient’s Ledger. When setting up a payment agreement with a patient, you have the option to save a credit card on file, which can be run on an agreed payment interval.  You can track payment agreements using the Payment Agreement Manager

When you need to find and contact patients regarding outstanding balances, I recommend using the Collection Manager, which is accessible from the Office Manager. The reason I like to use the Collection Manager is because the report can be generated using multiple filters, so you can find specific groups of patients. Plus you can easily access the patient’s other Dentrix modules, like the Ledger, directly from the Collection Manager. 

Even if you have patients pay their estimated portion at the time of service, there still may be occasions when patients are left with a balance. When you use the Dentrix features mentioned above, you can effectively send  patients a statement and record contact and financial arrangements you have made with your patients. Using the Payment Manager and Collection Manager, you can easily track payments that are due and contact patients that have a balance. 

If you have questions on these topics, please e-mail me at  vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.


Charlotte Skaggs, Certified Dentrix Trainer

Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for almost 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Updating Payment Tables with Insurance Coverage for PPE

Last month, I wrote about charging a fee for personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic*. The American Dental Association has suggested the use of the code D1999 to bill for the charge of additional PPE. In that blog post we talked about the best ways to set up that code in Dentrix. 

Recently, some dental insurance companies have announced that they will compensate providers for the cost of PPE. Whether an insurance plan will pay this charge or not, I do think it’s a good idea for practices to charge patients this additional fee. Although some PPE is the norm in dental offices, the additional requirements of gowns, face shields, and N95 masks are an additional cost that practices should be compensated for. 



The average of what offices are charging for PPE is around $10. If you expect dental insurance to pay a portion of the charge for PPE using code D1999, I would highly suggest using the payment table in Dentrix in order to collect accurately from patients.  

The payment table in Dentrix is a great way to enter in the exact dollar amount that an insurance plan will pay for a particular ADA code. By entering in the dollar amount that the insurance will pay for code D1999, you can collect accurately from the patient at the time of service. 

For example, if the insurance will pay $7.00 for code D1999, you should enter that information in the payment table. You can edit the payment table by double-clicking the Insurance Information block in the patient’s Family File. 



That way, when the code is set complete in the patient’s Ledger, Dentrix will estimate the insurance to pay $7.00 and the patient portion at $3.00. You can then collect the patient portion at the time of service. It’s always best to collect from patients at the time of service in order to reduce outstanding accounts receivable. Also, it wouldn’t be cost effective to send a patient a statement for a $3 balance. 

Another great thing about updating the payment table is that when you enter new information into it, the insurance estimate will be used for all patients who are covered under that same insurance group plan. This will result in less data entry for your team.

I’m hearing from offices that patients are understanding of the cost for PPE, and even if their dental insurance isn’t going to cover the fee, they are willing to pay a reasonable fee to offset the cost for the office. 

If you expect dental insurance to pay for a portion of the code, use the payment table to enter that information into Dentrix, so you can accurately collect any patient portion at the time of service. If you don’t expect any insurance payment for code D1999 for a particular group plan, you should enter $0 into the payment table, which will result in the charge being added to the patient portion in both the patient’s Ledger and in the Treatment Planner. 

If you have questions about how using the payment table can help you accurately collect for D1999 for personal protective equipment, please e-mail me at  vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.

*Please consult the laws and regulations in your state for guidance on charging for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other COVID-19 related costs and particularities. You should not rely upon the material or information provided by HS1 as a basis of making any decisions without the proper legal or other professional advice specific to your situation as needed.


Charlotte Skaggs, Certified Dentrix Trainer

Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for almost 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Building Your Online Reputation

Last week, I wrote about re-training your staff during this time when your office is slower and seeing less patients.   

Another area you can focus on while you have additional time is the online reputation of your practice. 
As consumers, we all read reviews whether we’re wanting to find a new doctor or check out that new restaurant in town. 

You can’t please everyone all the time, and there may be a times when your practice gets a negative review. If you do get a negative review, it’s important for potential patients to see that you also have lots of positive reviews. The more positive reviews your office receives the higher your overall online rating will be.  



So while you're less busy in the office and are able to spend more time with each patient, I suggest asking them to review your practice online. If a patient tells you they had a great experience, ask them to make sure and leave a review to that effect. In my experience, most patients are happy to leave a review when they have had a positive experience at your office. 

Using Reputation Manager, you can send surveys to patients as a way to encourage them to leave a review to help you maintain a positive online reputation. Here are some of the great features Reputation Manager offers:
  • It integrates fully with Dentrix.
  • Your office has control of which sites your reviews are posted to, like Yelp, WebMD, Vitals and more.
  • You can set up Reputation Manager so that surveys are automatically sent to patients after their appointment to allow them an opportunity to leave a review. 
  • You can easily post positive reviews on your practice website and Facebook page.
  • Reputation Manager verifies that the reviews being left are from real patients of your office. 
Although we are currently living in uncertain times, you can use it as an opportunity to improve your practice. One aspect that you can work on is the online reputation of the office. Reputation Manager can help by sending surveys and posting reviews. If you have questions on this topic, e-mail me at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.


Charlotte Skaggs, Certified Dentrix Trainer

Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for almost 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The Calm Before the Storm

As your office is learning the new normal when it comes to scheduling and seeing patients, you may find that you are not seeing as many patients as you were prior to the COVID-19 virus. This may be due in part to scheduling appointments at a reduced capacity and that patients may not be ready to proceed with elective dental treatment yet. 

This could be considered the calm before the storm. We know that your practice will get back to normal capacity at some point, but in the meantime, this could be an opportune time to re-train your staff while you are less busy. 



Here are some areas that you can concentrate on when it comes to re-training your staff:

Chart Review

Whether you have your team enter patient information in Dentrix or in a paper chart, it’s always a good idea to review that information prior to their appointment. Your staff may need a refresher on what to look for when doing chart reviews. Here are some ideas of things to look for while reviewing charts: 

Inter-Office Communication

Reviewing the way the team communicates with each other and with the doctor is an area that often needs improvement.  Having a morning meeting or daily huddle can start the team on the right foot for the day by knowing where the entire team needs to be, when they need to be there, and why.
Reviewing, understanding, and using patient route slips can help to communicate patient treatment needs between the front and back office.

Make sure the whole team knows how the doctor likes to be communicated with. Some doctors like short and concise explanations regarding patients, while some doctors prefer more detailed explanations. 

Verbiage and Scripts

Now would be a great time to remind your staff of the words and phrases your office prefers to use when speaking to patients. Take the time to review and update any phone scripts you are using in the practice. After experiencing time away from the office due to shutdowns and quarantines, some of this preferred speech may have been forgotten. 

Investing some time now to re-train your team while the office is slower than usual will help your practice to operate more smoothly once you are busy and at full capacity again. If you have questions on these topics, e-mail me at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.


Charlotte Skaggs, Certified Dentrix Trainer

Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for almost 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Adding COVID-19 Tracking Protocols to the Appointment Checklist

If your office has re-opened, you’ve probably established a protocol for screening patients for COVID-19 prior to their appointment. Using the Appointment Check List in Dentrix would be a good way to communicate to your team that the screening protocol you have in place has been completed for each patient with an appointment. 

The Appointment Checklist is found at the bottom of the Appointment Information window of each appointment. It is a customizable checklist that can be used to communicate details about the patient’s appointment to the rest of the team. You can customize the items that appear in the Checklist from the Office Manager > Maintenance > Practice Setup > Definitions



Select Appointment Checklist from the Definition Type drop down list, type the Definition Text as you want it to appear on the Appointment Checklist, then select Add.  You can have up to 12 items included in the Appointment Checklist.

Here are some ideas of items you may want to include on your Appointment Check List:
  • If you are taking patients’ temperatures in order to screen them for COVID-19 prior to their appointment, “Temperature Taken” may be a good item to add to the Appointment Check List. When your front office checks the patient in for their appointment, they can take the patient’s temperature, and check the corresponding box on the Appointment Check List to indicate that it has been done. Then, they can change the appointment's status to Ready for Operatory. This will indicate to your clinical staff that the patient's temperature has been taken, that they have been cleared, and they are ready to be taken to the operatory.
  • Another item you could add to the Appointment Check List is “COVID-19 Questionnaire”. Many offices are having patients fill out a questionnaire to find out if patients have been exposed to the virus. You can find an example of a patient COVID-19 screening form in the America Dental Association Return to Work Kit by clicking HERE. By adding the COVID-19 Questionnaire item to the Appointment Check List, you can easily indicate to your team that the questionnaire has been completed. Completed forms can be stored in the Questionnaires module or scanned and saved in the patient’s Document Center, depending on where your office keeps patient forms. 
  • Some offices are having patients sign a consent form or release to be seen in the office. “Consent Signed” may be another item to add to your Appointment Check List. Create a consent form for patients to sign (either digitally or on paper) and then save these forms in the patient’s Document Center.
By customizing the Appointment Check List, you can communicate important details about the patient to the rest of your team in order to prepare them. Using the Appointment Check List can help streamline your COVID-19 screening and patient check-in process for your practice. 

If you have questions on this topic, please email me at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.


Charlotte Skaggs, Certified Dentrix Trainer

Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for almost 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Charging for PPE: What You Need to Set Up in Dentrix

Now that many offices have re-opened, some are charging a fee for the additional personal protective equipment that is required to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The American Dental Association has suggested the use of the procedure code D1999 to charge for this additional PPE*.

If your practice decides to use this code, here are some things you can do in Dentrix to make using it a little easier.

Edit the Procedure Code

First you will need to edit the procedure code and attach a fee for the code in the Procedure Code Editor in the Office Manager. Select code D1999 from the Preventive category and click Edit. You can then change the description and abbreviated description for the code to “PPE.” You can also edit the fee in this dialog box as well. The fee you will charge for PPE should be determined by your practice owner based on the cost of additional PPE items, such as PPE gowns, face shields, shoe coverings, an oral rinse, and so forth. Although it varies by state and area, I’ve seen the D1999 charge for PPE range from $10-$25.


If you aren’t planning to bill the code to dental insurance, or if you don’t expect insurance to pay and you want to have patients pay this expense, you can select Do Not Bill to Dental Insurance within the procedure code setup, and Dentrix will include the fee in the patient portion of charges.

Add the Code to Initial Reasons for Appointments

Adding the code to the Initial Reasons box makes it quick and easy to add it to an appointment. The Initial Reasons box is available within the Appointment Information dialog box and typically includes commonly scheduled procedures like a prophy or bitewing X-rays. You can edit the procedures that appear as options to choose from in the Initial Reasons box in the Office Manager. Click Maintenance > Practice Setup > Definitions.



In the Definition Type drop-down list, select Appointment Reasons. Add procedure code D1999 and in the Definition Text field, give the code a name that will make sense to the team. This could be as simple as "PPE." Click Add, and the code will then be easily accessible to add to each appointment along with the procedures the patient is coming in for. Then be sure to train your staff to add the D1999 code to every appointment.

Create a Custom Claim Remark (Narrative) to Add to Claims

If you plan to bill D1999 to insurance for patients, you can create a custom narrative template you can access from the Remarks for Unusual Services block on the insurance claim. Click Claim Remarks and select the PPE template to add the narrative to each claim.


Create Custom Clinical Notes

If you use clinical note templates in the Patient Chart, you can create a new template where you describe the additional use of PPE due to COVID-19. This will support your office charging a fee for additional PPE. Make sure that staff is trained to add this new clinical note for patients that have the fee charged on their appointment.



Charging patients and their dental insurance for the cost of additional PPE can help to offset the expense your office has incurred to purchase these items. The suggestions above can help you to set up Dentrix to make this process more streamlined. If you have questions please email me at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.


*Please consult the laws and regulations in your state for guidance on charging for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other COVID-19 related costs and particularities. You should not rely upon the material or information provided by HS1 as a basis of making any decisions without the proper legal or other professional advice specific to your situation as needed.


Charlotte Skaggs, Certified Dentrix Trainer

Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for almost 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Improvements to Passwords in Dentrix G7.3

Your practice may be considering hiring new staff or reassigning job responsibilities among your existing team. Dentrix G7.3 Update 1 has improved password features that can make managing these types of staff changes easier.

Here some of the new features in Passwords that I like and how I think they can benefit your practice.

Password Permission Templates

One new feature is the ability to set up templates for password permissions. I would suggest setting up a template for each job classification: Hygienist, Assistant, Front Desk, Office Manager, Practice Owner, Associate Doctor, etc.

For example, set up a template for your hygienists. Assign all of the rights a hygienist should have access to in Dentrix, and then, once the template is set up, you can easily assign those same password permissions to additional hygienists on the team using the template.

Set up password permission templates for each job classification in your practice, and if you hire a new team member, you can assign their password permissions based on their job title without having to take the time to select each permission.


Set Password Expiration

Another feature is the option to set password expiration for individual users. This will be useful for when you want staff to have to change their password at next log in.


Password Rights Navigation

Password rights are much easier to navigate than they were in previous versions because you are now able to sort by selecting a column of information. This is helpful if you are searching for a particular permission, such as "Appointments, Delete." You can sort columns of information by the Selected, Category, and Description column headings. You also have the option to search for a permission by typing in a search bar. 


Select/Deselect Multiple Permissions At Once

Another feature I like is the option to Select All or Clear All from a category. This is useful when you want to quickly remove all permissions in a category that a team member doesn’t need access to. For example, your hygienist and assistant may not have the need to access the Billing and Collections set of permissions.

View Password Administrators

And finally, in Dentrix G7.3, you can clearly see which users are listed as administrators. This is important because you should limit who is considered an administrator within the Passwords module. I would recommend that only the practice owner and the office manager be listed as administrators. This is for your practice’s protection because administrators can change password permissions.


I’m excited about the improvements in the Password module in Dentrix G7.3 because it will make password permissions easier to assign and manage. I also love the new layout because I find it clearer and more user friendly.

If you have questions about the topic, email me at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.


Charlotte Skaggs, Certified Dentrix Trainer

Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for almost 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Filling Last-Minute Cancellations

During this challenging time, it may be harder to keep your practice schedule full. Your patients may be home-schooling their children or returning to work themselves, and you may find that your office has more holes in the schedule and more last-minute cancellations.

Dentrix offers a feature that your office can use to offer available appointment times to patients. It’s called Fill Appointment*. You can use this feature to send a text message to a select group of patients letting them know you have an appointment time available. This is a great feature to fill an appointment time that became available today or tomorrow and that you would like to offer to other patients. Patients are notified about an opening, and they'll call YOU to schedule an appointment!

There are several filtering options available to help you find specific patients who are likely to respond to fill the opening, and send them a text message. You can filter by provider, date range, or by appointment type.  For example, if you are trying to fill an appointment on your hygiene schedule, you can filter by Continuing Care. You also have the option to fill the appointment by looking at patients with the status of ASAP or who have appointments on the Broken, Will Call, or Pinboard lists.


When you send the text message to the patient, I would suggest writing a text that explains that you have an appointment available today, without mentioning the specific time, and to call the office if they are interested. In my experience, if your text message says that there is an appointment available at 2:00 pm today, you may have several patients just show up for that appointment, without calling to let you know. This could result in your office not being able to see all the patients, which could cause a negative experience for the patient.


Using the Fill Appointment feature can give your office the ability to contact several patients all at once regarding an available appointment, and you may have multiple patients call to claim the opening. Schedule the first patient to call you back in the opening you advertised, and then you can work with the other responders to fill other holes in your schedule, since you’ve already got them on the phone.

Making full use of the Fill Appointment feature is beneficial for your office because your staff doesn’t have to spend their time calling patients individually to fill openings. It’s also beneficial for the patient as a quick text message may be easier for them to read and answer versus listening to a voicemail and returning a phone call while they are at work, or home-schooling children.

For additional information on using this feature, read the A Faster Way to Fill Appointments article in the Dentrix Magazine online archive.

*The Fill Appointment feature requires Patient Engage.  If you don’t currently have Patient Engage, your office can contact the eServices team at (833) 471-7253 for more information.

Charlotte Skaggs, Certified Dentrix Trainer

Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for almost 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.