Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Spend Time on Updating Outstanding Treatment Plans

As we look forward to re-opening our dental practices, it's a good time to concentrate on updating outstanding treatment plans. Use this time to clean up old treatment plans which tend to clutter your database. I would consider an “old treatment plan” to be any procedure within a treatment case that was diagnosed over a year ago. After a year, the treatment required has probably changed. For example, if a tooth needed a MOD filling over a year ago, at this point, it may need a crown. You can also use this time to check on the status of insurance pre-authorizations and to contact patients to get them scheduled when your office re-opens.

The first step is to find patients who have outstanding treatment. When searching for patients with outstanding treatment plans, I like to use the Treatment Manager. You can access the Treatment Manager from the Appointment Book. There are two reasons I prefer using this report. First, there are so many options to filter the report! You can completely customize it to display the types of patients you want to view.


The second reason I like using the Treatment Manager is because you can easily access other Dentrix modules right from the list.


While viewing the list, you can highlight a patient and go directly to their Treatment Planner to view their case. If the treatment plan is old or if you know the patient is not going to proceed with their treatment-planned procedures, you can update the case status in the Treatment Planner to Rejected. The reason you should reject treatment plans instead of deleting them is to keep a record of the procedures having been treatment planned.

Once you have worked to clean up patient outstanding treatment plans, refresh the Treatment Manager so patients with rejected cases are removed from the list. You can easily do this from the Treatment Manager by clicking File > Refresh. Once you are looking at an updated Treatment Manager list, you can highlight a patient on the list, open their Ledger, and go to Options > Treatment Plan to see if a pre-authorization was sent.



If your office uses eServices for claims, you can also check the status of the pre-authorization by clicking the red “e” within the claim status.


Once you’ve cleaned up old treatment plans and checked on the pre-authorization status (as needed), you can begin to contact patients and schedule appointment(s) for their outstanding treatment. Remember to make detailed notes regarding contact with patients in the Office Journal.

When you are ready to schedule an appointment for outstanding treatment, you can access the Appointment Book from the Treatment Manager. When scheduling outstanding treatment plans select Tx in the Appointment Information dialog box to schedule their treatment-planned procedures.

The task of cleaning up outstanding treatment plans is much easier when you use the Treatment Manager because you can access the Treatment Planner to reject cases, access the Ledger to check on pre-authorization status, access the Office Journal to record patient contact, and getting their appointments scheduled for when your office is able to re-open.

For additional information, read Mining for Gold: Three Reports for Searching Out Unscheduled Treatment in the Dentrix Magazine online archive.

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, April 22, 2020

Take Time Now to Update Fee Schedules

If you haven’t negotiated increased fee schedules with your contracted insurance companies recently, now would be a good time to do so. Requesting updates and entering the new fees into Dentrix can be a time-consuming process. While your office is closed, it may be a good time to take on such a  time-intensive project. You can use the increased fees as soon as your office is able to open which will result in higher production.

The first thing you should do is contact the insurance company and inquire how often they will allow you to request a fee increase. Different insurance companies have different frequency limitations on when this can be done. Also find out the method in which it needs to be done. Some companies will allow you to send an e-mail request, while others will require you do this by mail.

Once you have received the updated fee schedule you can either import it into Dentrix, if you have it in an Excel format, or you can manually enter the new fees. This is done in the Office Manager > Maintenance > Reference > Fee Schedule Maintenance. Select the fee schedule you want to update, then select View/Edit.


After you have updated the fee schedule, you can update the fees for procedures that have been previously treatment planned. In the Treatment Planner, click the Update Treatment Fees button. You can update treatment fees for all patients, or just the currently selected patient. You can also choose to update fees for procedures treatment planned before a specific date. For example, if you wanted to honor fees on treatment plans that were presented within the last three months, select the procedure date before 01/20/20.
  • If you are using expiration dates on treatment plans, you can select to update treatment fees with an expiration date before today’s date. That way you will be honoring all fees that have an expiration date in the future. 
  • If you aren’t currently using fee expiration dates on treatment plans, you can set up a default case expiration in the settings in the Treatment Planner. I recommend using an expiration date to clearly communicate to patients how long the treatment fees will apply.
Once you have applied your setting and clicked Update to update patient treatment plan fees, be patient. This can take some time because Dentrix is searching your entire database and changing fees based on the settings you chose.

Once the increased fees have been updated and you have worked to update the fees on treatment plans, you will be ready to go when your practice is able to re-open. Your production will be increased as you are able to charge a higher fee for some procedures. Requesting fee schedules and entering them into Dentrix can be a time-consuming process that is difficult to do when you are busy seeing patients. Doing this while your office is closed can save time for when the practice is busy again. 

If you have questions 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, April 15, 2020

Communicating With Patients During This Time

Dental practices have strong relationships with their patients. You get the opportunity to see patients frequently over the course of recall and restorative appointments.

Over my last twenty years working in a dental office, I’ve had the privilege of developing strong relationships with our patients. I’ve celebrated with them as they’ve experienced joys in their lives and sadness as they’ve experienced sorrows. I’ve watched children grow up in the practice. I feel honored to have shared our patient’s lives in this way and feel that these patients are a part of our practice family. As a dental office manager, I’m sure you feel the same way about your patients.

People all over the world are experiencing difficulties at this time and communicating to your patients that you are thinking of them and wishing them well, can help your practice to re-connect with them and develop an even stronger relationship.



Here are a few ways you can communicate with your patients during this time.

Handwritten Cards

You could send a handwritten note or card letting your patients know you are wishing them and their families well. Your patients are struggling too, and receiving a handwritten note could help to make someone’s day a little better. This method of communication would also allow you to write a personal message to each patient or family.

Custom Letters

You could also create a custom letter in Dentrix, if you would prefer to send a letter in the mail. You would need to create the letter template in Microsoft Word and insert Dentrix Letter Merge Fields. This letter can then be sent to a customized list of patients using the Patient Report (by filters) option within Letters and Custom Lists in the Office Manager. I would recommend sending the letter to all patients who have a Last Visit Date within the last twelve months.

E-mail Newsletter

Using Dentrix Patient Engage, you could send an e-mail newsletter to your patients. Let them know you are thinking of them during this difficult time and that you are there to help, should a dental emergency arise. You can give them information on how to contact you if they do experience a dental emergency. Let patients know when you are hoping to re-open and that you are looking forward to seeing them. 

Reach out to your practice family during these tough times. Let them know you are thinking of them and looking forward to seeing them when the office is able to re-open. Communicating with your patients can help to reconnect and strengthen your relationship with them. 

If you have questions, 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, April 8, 2020

Rescheduling Appointments Due to Office Closures

Due the pandemic crisis, dental practices around the country have been closed for non-emergency procedures since last month. Most will have to remain closed until the end of April, and some until mid-May. I’ve had many questions about what to do when it comes to rescheduling appointments that were missed while the office was closed.

Here are my recommendations:

Let’s assume that you have been closed since March 24th, and that you have already contacted your patients to tell them that you would not be open, and that you would be rescheduling their appointments over the coming weeks and months.

Now, you are beginning to work through your Appointment Book to reschedule those appointments. Starting on March 24th, you should start with the patients that were scheduled that day and remove their appointments from the Appointment Book. To do that, double-click each individual appointment to open the Appointment Information window, and select Wait/Will Call. By selecting Wait/Will Call, the appointment will be removed from the Appointment Book and added to the Unscheduled List--and all of the appointment information (procedures, providers, etc) are still attached to the appointment.

Note: You don’t want to simply delete appointments from the Appointment Book. If you delete an appointment, there will be no way to track it or the procedures that were attached to it.

Then, when you are ready to reschedule those March 24th appointments, you can open the Unscheduled List, and sort it by date, easily identifying those appointments that were originally on that date. You can use the Unscheduled List to contact patients to reschedule because the list contains all the information you need: patient name, procedures and providers attached to the appointment, and the patient’s phone number to call. Rescheduling the appointment from the Unscheduled List is easy because you can simply drag the appointment directly to the new appointment time in the Appointment Book, or to the Pinboard to reschedule it.



Once you have moved all the appointments from March 24th to the Unscheduled List, I would suggest you edit your practice schedule and close the practice in the Dentrix Appointment Book for that date. The purpose of closing the practice in Dentrix is for accurate reporting. The Dentrix Practice Advisor Report calculates unfilled hours and the value of those unfilled hours so you can track lost revenue. Unfilled hours are calculated by looking at the hours/days that the practice is open, and that the provider is available, but not seeing a patient. Since your office is not open, you won’t want Dentrix to include these hours in the report. Click HERE for information on how you can close the office on selected dates in the Appointment Book.

Repeat these steps for each day your office has been closed.

When it comes to rescheduling those patient appointments, I plan to wait to reschedule any appointments until closer to our official re-open date. For now, in Florida, dental practices have to wait until at least May 8th to resume routine procedures. But, since those recommendations are changing constantly, I plan to wait until closer to that date to begin contacting patients about rescheduling. That way I’ll avoid having to reschedule the appointment again, should those recommendations change.

Using the Wait/Will Call status within the Unscheduled List can help you to reschedule patients once your office is open again. Closing the office to reflect the practice schedule can help with future reporting.

For additional resources during this time, see the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources For Your Practice article on the Dentrix Magazine online site.


Please e-mail me with any 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, April 1, 2020

Two Reports to Focus on During Down Time

The world is experiencing challenging times. It can be especially difficult for dentists and dental office managers because dental offices have been ordered to close (other than for patient emergencies) for months. This can cause a lot of financial stress on your dental practice.

Although your practice is unable to generate production by seeing patients, you can still work on your collections to generate some cash flow for your office, using two key Dentrix reports.

The Insurance Aging Report

Use the Insurance Aging Report to identify outstanding insurance claims. This report can be generated based on an insurance claim aging date range. I would suggest selecting the Over 0 Minimum Days Past Due option when setting up the report in order to view all of your outstanding claims. After you review the information on the Insurance Aging Report, contact insurance companies to check on the status of outstanding claims. If you are using Dentrix Insurance Manager, you can quickly check on the status of the claim.

By taking the time to research outstanding claims, you can find out if the insurance company needs additional information to process the claim, provide that information to them, and then get paid for that claim. If you need to make notes regarding a claim status, you can do so within the insurance claim in Dentrix, in the claim status notes.


The Aging Report

Use the Aging Report to generate a list of all patient accounts receivable. With this report, you can view patient balances as well as see if any of the balance is estimated from insurance. After you review the information on the Aging Report, you can use this information to contact patients about their balances. 



Use this information to send individualized statements, generate collection letters, or contact patients by phone. While being compassionate to patients that may be experiencing their own financial hardship, you can create payment agreements for patients, all within Dentrix. Remember to keep notes in the patient’s Guarantor Notes in the Ledger for future reference. 

Using these reports, you can work on collecting outstanding accounts receivables to generate cash flow for your office during this time you are unable to generate production by seeing patients.

For additional resources during this time, see the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources For Your Practice article on the Dentrix Magazine online site.

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.