Wednesday, January 16, 2019

How Dentrix Can Help with Your 2019 Marketing



I was recently reading an article in Dental Economics about dental marketing for 2019. The article referenced what’s hot and what’s not, in dental marketing. It seems some advertising techniques are losing ground such as billboards, Yelp and Yellow Pages, while others are becoming more popular.

Here are some of marketing techniques forecasted to be more popular in 2019 and my interpretation on how Dentrix can work with them:

Email Marketing

You can use e-mail marketing to remind patients of their appointments or remind them that they are due for an appointment. You can use Patient Engage through eServices to automate these reminders to be sent.


Social Media


With the exciting announcement of the Henry Schein One joint venture, there are even more options to manage your online presence using Web and Online Marketing tools powered by Officite. You can bundle all the great eServices you already use, like eClaims and Quickbill, and combine them with these exciting new services.

Personalized Marketing

You can create personalized letters to patients right from your Dentrix software, in the Office Manager. Under Letters & Custom Lists, there are letter templates you can use for patients in your practice who experience birthdays, graduations, baby births, or marriages. You can create these letters for particular groups of patients to let them know you care.

Discount Plans

Many offices allow patients to purchase an in-house discount plan. This can be a good incentive to get patients in the door. Creating an in-house discount plan would consist of creating a discounted fee schedule and adding it to Dentrix. You can do that in the Office Manager > Maintenance > Practice Setup > Fee Schedule Setup. Then you would assign that discounted fee schedule to the patients who have purchased it, in their Family File. You may also want to create a Billing Type to assign to these patients so that you can track them more efficiently.

Whatever your marketing plans are for 2019, be sure to track your referral sources. Tracking referral sources allow you to evaluate the success of the marketing plan and the return on your investment. I suggest asking each new patient how they heard about the office on the initial new patient phone call. This information can be entered into Dentrix along with the new patient information (name, address, phone number etc.). Then, run monthly reports to evaluate which referral sources provided the most new patient referrals and the production generated from those patients. (Office Manager > Reports > Management > Referred BY Doctor/Other).

If you have any questions, 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, January 9, 2019

Updating Treatment Plan Fees at the Beginning of a New Year

In November, I wrote a blog post about updating fee schedules at the end of the year. Updating office fees as well as insurance fee schedules is important so your office receives the highest fee for procedures, which will result in higher production.

Once you have updated your fee schedules in Dentrix, what happens to the patients who already had outstanding treatment plans? This question has come up recently in some of the offices I work with.

For patients who have outstanding treatment-planned procedures, those fees will need to be updated. You can update treatment fees on a patient-by-patient basis, or for all patients at once.

I would recommend that you update fees for outstanding treatment plans for all patients on an annual basis. The reason behind doing it annually is that you may have patients who with treatment plans that were created years ago. Those fees are outdated and need to be updated. Updating outstanding treatment fees can be done on an annual basis after you have updated your fee schedules in Dentrix.

Since some databases can be quite large, here’s some tips for you to update fees for all patients:
  1. Update your fees on the server computer, not a workstation.
  2. Perform this process outside of practice hours, when you're not seeing patients, so no other computers are logged in to Dentrix.
  3. Be patient. Depending on the size of your database, it may take some time.

How To

Open the Treatment Planner and from the Edit menu, select Update Treatment Fees. Choose the option to Update Treatment Plan Fees For: All Patients.



You will notice in this window you can choose to update fees for one particular procedure code or a procedure code range. This could be beneficial if your office updates the fee for one procedure during the year. However, for my example, I would recommend leaving the procedure code range as <ALL> to <ALL>.  Then click Update to update the fees according to your current fee schedule.

Keeping fee schedules current and accurate, and updating fees for outstanding treatment plans annually, can help your office to charge the most accurate fees, therefore increasing production. If you have questions about this topic, please email me at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com. Happy 2019!

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, January 2, 2019

Dealing with Broken Appointments Appropriately for Accurate Reporting

Over the past few weeks we’ve been discussing the Dentrix Practice Advisor Report and all the valuable information you can learn from it. Some of the statistics included in this report are regarding broken appointments. The Practice Advisor gives you the number of broken appointments not re-appointed, scheduled hours for broken appointments, and revenue lost for broken appointments.

First, it’s important to understand what constitutes a broken appointment. A broken appointment is a “negative” cancellation. This would be patients that no-show or cancel their appointment with little or no notice. I would recommend that any patient that does not give your office 24 hours’ notice should be considered a broken appointment. In those situations, when the patient calls to cancel or when they don’t show up at all, select the appointment on the schedule and then click the Break Appointment icon to break the appointment. The appointment moves to the Unscheduled List.

Now a common problem I see is that when it comes time to reschedule that broken appointment, offices aren’t looking at the Unscheduled List. They schedule the patient a whole new appointment. There are a couple of problems with doing this:
  • Your Unscheduled Lists will not be accurate. There are unscheduled appointments on the list and new appointments for those same procedures on the schedule.
  • The appointment is not counted as re-appointed in the Practice Advisor report. 
It’s important for everyone on your scheduling team to reschedule broken appointments from the Unscheduled List. When you schedule an appointment for a patient that has a broken appointment, Dentrix will display a message that says,


Always say yes when you see this message! When you click Yes, the Family Appointment List will appear. In the Appointment section, select the unscheduled appointment, and then click View Appointment.


An Appointment Information dialog box will open showing the appointment that was placed on the Unscheduled List.


It will contain the appointment reason and any notes or information that was entered for the original appointment. From here you can move the appointment to the Pinboard, and then find an opening in the schedule for it. Rescheduling broken appointments in this way will result in the Practice Advisor counting this as re-appointed.

If you review your Practice Advisor Report and find you have a high number of broken appointment hours and lost revenue, consider some the following:
  • Are patients no-showing for appointments? Do you have an effective confirmation system?
  • Did the patient have unaddressed concerns regarding the appointment?  The three main reasons patients don’t proceed with dental treatment are money, time, and fear. Did the office address these concerns?
  • Is this patient a habitual canceler? If so, it may be a good idea to ask the patient for a deposit to reserve time for them on your schedule. 
  • Do you charge patients a missed appointment fee to deter them from last minute cancellation?
  • Is the office team making it too easy for patients to cancel? The patients should be aware that they are inconveniencing the office by a last-minute cancellation. 
Having accurate broken appointment information available to you in the Practice Advisor Report can help you to evaluate if your office policies are effective in minimizing broken appointments.
If you haven’t had an opportunity to review the Practice Advisor Report in Dentrix, I strongly encourage you to do so. It is such a great report, with tons of valuable information all in one place. Evaluate it with the doctor and your team on a monthly basis to see where your office can improve.

If you have any 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, December 19, 2018

Ideas for Increasing Your Case Acceptance Numbers


I want to continue talking about the value of the Dentrix Practice Advisor Report as a powerful tool in evaluating the overall health of your practice. 

Last week we talked about understanding what the unfilled hours mean on the Practice Advisor Report and how you can work to improve those numbers and keep your schedule full.

This week let’s look at how the Practice Advisor calculates Treatment Case Acceptance. It’s important to know what your case acceptance percentage is in your office. How many patients are saying yes to the treatment plans you are presenting? 

In a typical general dentistry practice with one doctor and two hygienists, a good goal would be for 85-90% of treatment plans to be accepted. If you find your percentages aren’t as high as you expect them to be, you may want to ask the following questions:
  • Is the team properly educating patients on their dental health and treatment needs? Are you taking the time to explain what could happen if those needs aren’t treated? Do you have tools in the office to help to educate patients? An intraoral camera can be a great teaching tool. A picture says a thousand words!
  • Are you offering financing options to make the patient’s treatment plan affordable? You can create payment agreements in Dentrix or offer outside financing like CareCredit.
  • Do you have appointment availability, so they are able to make it work with their schedule? Have several options available including early morning and late afternoon appointments so patients don’t have to take too much time off work. 
  • Does the patient have a fear of the dentist? You can increase case acceptance by having  something in the operatory to distract them during treatment, like listening to music or watching TV.
But before you evaluate if your case acceptance needs improvement, you must first make sure the case acceptance percentage in the Practice Advisor Report is accurate. Because while the information included in the Practice Advisor Report can be very informative, it is only as accurate as the data you put into Dentrix.

After presenting a treatment plan to a patient, be sure to update the case status in the Treatment Planner. In the Patient Chart, open the Treatment Planner and select a treatment plan. Then click the Update Case Status button. Here you have the option to mark the case as Accepted or Rejected. When you consistently change treatment plan statuses for each patient, you can ensure that your case acceptance rate in the Practice Advisor is the most accurate.



Please join me again next time when we’ll talk about broken appointments in the Practice Advisor Report. 

If you have any 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, December 12, 2018

Understanding Unfilled Hours on your Practice Advisor Report

If you have ever had the opportunity to study the Practice Advisor Report in Dentrix before, you know that it is a very powerful tool. There is so much information available in this one report—information like:
  • Unfilled hours for the dentist and hygienist(s)
  • Production totals for the entire practice, production totals based on position in the practice (dentist or hygienist), and production totals by each provider.
  • Numbers of treatment cases presented vs. treatment cases accepted so that you can track your overall case acceptance percentages. 
  • Collection information, broken down by provider and accounts receivable information. 
  • New patient information, including referral sources. 
  • Broken appointment information, including lost revenue from broken appointments and number of broken appointments not reappointed. 
Over the next few weeks we will talk about some things you can do to ensure your Practice Advisor Report is showing you accurate information. Because the report will only be as accurate as the data you have entered into Dentrix.

One of the items listed in the Practice Advisor is Unfilled Hours. Unfilled hours are open time on your schedule. Unfilled hours can cause the practice to lose money because there is not a patient in the chair generating revenue, and the practice is paying overhead expenses as well as the hourly salary for the hygienist or assistant to work. This makes me think of the old saying “Time is money,” which in a dental office is very true. 


In order for the unfilled hours to be accurately reflected in the report, you must have each provider’s working days and hours set up properly in Dentrix. In the Appointment Book, select Setup > Provider Setup. Choose a provider ID, then click Setup. Set the hours for each day that the provider works. Having each provider’s hours properly set up is necessary for the Practice Advisor to calculate unfilled hours correctly.

Unfilled hours are broken down on the Practice Advisor Report by dentist totals and hygiene totals, as well as by individual provider ID numbers. The Practice Advisor also gives a value to those unfilled hours which would be lost potential revenue because there was not a patient on the schedule. 

This can be very valuable information. After reviewing the information, ask yourself, why are the hours unfilled? In my experience, this often happens because the office hasn’t been making a routine effort to reach out to patients and get them scheduled (or rescheduled) for appointments. 

What Can You Do To Reclaim those Unfilled Hours?

You can reduce your unfilled hours for hygiene patients by working on your Continuing Care List regularly. Send e-mails and texts to patients who are due for continuing care through Communication Manager in eCentral. If patients don’t respond, follow up with a phone call.

To reduce doctor unfilled hours, you should work on your unscheduled treatment plans regularly. The Treatment Manager is great tool to use to contact patients with unscheduled treatment plans. Call the patients and explain their treatment and why it is important. Be ready to present them with payment options like CareCredit to make the financial aspect of their treatment easier to accept. 

I find that many times when an office is busy, these lists aren’t worked as frequently. Set time aside every week for a team member to work on these lists to keep a consistently full schedule. 

The Dentrix Practice Advisor provides a great deal of valuable information which can be a powerful tool in evaluating the overall health of your practice. Join me next week and we’ll talk more about another aspect of the  Practice Advisor Report that can help you identify areas of you can focus on for better profitability.

If you have any 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, December 5, 2018

A First-of-the-Year Task To Put On Your Schedule

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been talking about tasks to be done at the end of the year. This week let’s talk about a task that is very important to perform on January 1st (or the 2nd if the office will be closed for New Years’ Day).

Resetting patients’ insurance benefits in Dentrix allows the software to accurately calculate patient and insurance portions. This is also important so that treatment plans and balances due are calculated properly. At the beginning of the year, it’s important that Dentrix calculates the patient’s deductible into their patient portion and that it recognizes a patient has their entire insurance maximum available. This can be a valuable tool in presenting treatment plans to patients. They may be more likely to accept a treatment plan knowing that their dental insurance will pay a portion of the cost.

In order for the insurance benefits to calculate correctly in Dentrix, you must first make sure that you are assigning the benefit renewal month to insurance plans. In the patient’s Family File, double-click the Primary Dental Insurance block. Click the Insurance Data button and assign the benefit renewal month using the drop-down menu.


Assign the month that the patient’s insurance maximum and deductible renew. Many times, this will be January, but there are some plans that renew at the beginning of another month.

Now that you have the renewal month assigned to the insurance plan, you can reset insurance benefits for those plans.  The process of resetting patient’s insurance benefits happens as a part of the Month End routine in Dentrix. 

If you are using Dentrix version G6.5 or newer, you will use the Month End Task Scheduler which is located in the Ledger. The Task Scheduler has taken all the tasks that were performed as a part of Month End and Month End Wizard and has allowed you to determine which tasks are preformed and when. My favorite part of the Task Scheduler is that you do not have to close all your computers out of Dentrix for the Task Scheduler to run.

Resetting Insurance benefits is under the Purge and Reset Category within the Task Scheduler. I recommend that you run this on the first day of each month in order to accurately calculate patient’s insurance benefits. Resetting Insurance Benefits can be run manually at any time by right-clicking on Reset Insurance Benefits from the list of Available Tasks, then selecting Run Now. You can also add this task to your Monthly Queue and it will run automatically based on the parameters you set.



Updating patient’s insurance benefits is very important so that you can properly estimate patient’s insurance benefits and patient out-of-pocket expense. By resetting insurance benefits, you will reset the patient’s insurance maximum and deductible amounts in Dentrix. This is an especially important task on January 1st because many plans renew as of that date. 

Keep your patient’s insurance information up to date and current in Dentrix by resetting patient’s insurance benefits. Doing this will help you to provide accurate treatment plans and account information.

Special Note from Henry Schein One: Dentrix has released an update that addresses issues that are impacting some customers in two areas: (1) resetting insurance benefits and (2) running month end and task scheduler.  The update is available to you now in the Dentrix Update Manager. Even if you have not experienced these issues, we ask that you complete this high-priority update at your earliest convenience (no later than December 28, 2018).  Please note that running the update will require that all users exit Dentrix.


For questions on this or another 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.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

End-of-Year Tasks: Part Two

Last week we talked about making the task of updating fee schedules a part of your annual routine. This week I’d like to talk about another task I make a part of my annual routine. I think it’s important to schedule patients to have their permanent crowns cemented before the end of the year. The reason is that more insurance companies are paying for crowns based on the seat date.  If you wait until January to cement a permanent crown, the insurance company will pay towards the patient’s 2019 benefits, therefore the patient may lose any benefits they had left for 2018. It’s a good idea to contact patients who aren’t scheduled for their appointment to cement their permanent crown and get them into the office before their insurance renews on January 1st.

There are a couple of different ways you can identify which patients need to have their permanent crowns cemented:

Using the Lab Case Manager

If you have been entering cases into the Dentrix Lab Case Manager and changing the case status, you can use the Lab Case Manager and view patients with received cases. (Lab Case Manager > View > Misc. Options. Check the Received Cases box, and select OK.) For more information on the Lab Case Manager and updating the case status, read my blog post from October.

Using a Custom List

If you treatment plan a procedure code for a crown cement, you could also locate patients using Letters & Custom Lists. I’m a big fan of Letters & Custom Lists in Dentrix because it allows me to obtain lists of patients based on a number of different filters. I like the way that I can use the filters to find exactly the group of patients I’m looking for.

To find a list of patients with a treatment planned procedure for a crown cement open the Office Manager. From the toolbar select Letters & Custom Lists > Misc. > Patient report (by filters). Then select the Edit button. In the Letter or Custom List Setup screen, it’s important that all the filters used previously are cleared before you begin. 




Otherwise Dentrix will use those filters and your list of patients will not be accurate. To find patients with a treatment-planned cement crown procedure code, select the >> next to the Procedures filter. In the Search For box, check the box for Treat. Plan. Next choose the beginning and ending procedure codes. 



For example, if the procedure code your office uses for the cement crown is D2999, choose the beginning procedure code D2999 and ending procedure code D2999. You can choose to enter a procedure date range if needed, but it’s not necessary for this scenario. Select OK to save those filters, and then OK again to close the setup screen. Now select Open List Manager. This gives you a list of patients who have a treatment-planned cement crown procedure. You can access the patient’s other Dentrix modules from the List Manager, so it’s easy to navigate to the patient’s Family File, Ledger, Chart and Office Journal.




By scheduling patients to come in for an appointment to cement their permanent crowns before January 1, you can help them to better maximize their insurance benefits. If their insurance plan pays based on the seat date, the crown will be paid based on the patient’s 2018 insurance benefits and the patients 2019 insurance benefits will not be affected. Even if the patient’s insurance company doesn’t pay on the seat date, it can still be very important to schedule the patient to cement their permanent crowns before the holidays. The holidays tend to be the time that we eat more delicious, chewy, sticky foods that can pull off a temporary crown, so it’s beneficial for all patients to have their permanent crowns cemented before the holidays and January 1st.

For questions on this or another topic, please e-mail me at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com, and I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!


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.