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.