Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Using the Appointment Checklist

Do you ever have this happen in your office? The hygienist wants to know if you have received X-rays from her new patient’s previous dentist. The doctor wants to know if his 2:00 pm patient was reminded to pre-medicate, and the assistant wants to know if finances were reviewed with her patient who is scheduled for a crown.

The Appointment Check List in the Dentrix Appointment Book can be a great tool to communicate this type of information throughout the office, and it can eliminate questions and confusion, and ensure the entire team is on the same page.

When the schedule coordinator in your office makes a new patient appointment, she can request the patient’s X-rays from their previous dentist and check the corresponding box in the Appointment Check List in the Appointment Information window. When anyone else in the office opens that appointment, they can see that box is checked, indicating that X-rays were requested.



Once the X-rays are received, she could then check the box to indicate the x-rays have been received. By training your team to look for and use the Appointment Checklist, everyone can be on the same page when it comes to information they need to know about upcoming appointments.

Here’s another example. When calling to confirm appointments, the schedule coordinator can remind patients who require pre-medication to take their medication prior to the appointment and check the box in the Appointment Check List.

The Appointment Check List can serve two purposes: to remind you to perform certain tasks before an appointment, and to act as a visual cue that anyone on the team can see in the Appointment Information window to ensure that tasks were completed.

When you are reviewing the day’s appointments you will know if a task has been done. For example, if you are able to see that a patient has been reminded to pre-medicate, you can move on to the next task. This can help to streamline your daily tasks without having to move to another module or area in Dentrix.

The best part about the Appointment Check List is that it’s completely customizable so if there are specific tasks your office performs prior to a patient’s appointment, you can include those in your checklist.

To customize the Appointment Check List open the Office Manager > Maintenance > Practice Setup > Definitions. In the Definition Type drop-down list, select Appointment Check List.


Some of my personal favorite items to include on the list are:
  • X-Rays Requested
  • X-Rays Received
  • Confirmed Pre-Med
  • Verified Insurance
  •  Reviewed Finances
I’ve found the above items to be common tasks that I want to make sure are completed if they apply to that patient’s appointment. I recommend you meet with your team and discuss the Appointment Check List. What are common things that they want to know about a patient’s appointment?

Once you have decided on the items you want to include on the list, customize the Appointment Check List to meet the needs of your office and see how it can improve communication and streamline your daily tasks. 

As always, 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, May 15, 2019

Using the Search Payments Tool

Has this ever happened in your office?

Mary Jones comes in for a return appointment following her cleaning last week. She says she made a check payment of $25.00 last week, and it has cleared her bank, but it’s not posted to her Ledger. How can you go about finding where that payment went?

Luckily, in Dentrix, you have the ability to search for a payment. You can find the Search Payments option in the Ledger. From the toolbar, select File > Search Payments.


In the Search Payments window, you have many filters that you can use to search for payments including check number, date range, insurance carrier, amount, guarantor name, and payment type. I’ve found that using Search Payments is a very useful tool.

In the case of Mary Jones, you can use Search Payments to find a payment that was posted to the wrong guarantor or patient. To find which account the payment was incorrectly posted to, use the filters for the payment amount, the date range, and the payment type.

In the Amount section, I would enter $25.00 in both From and To fields. Under Select Payment Types, select the check payment option. In the Select Date section, enter the date range from 05/06/2019 and to 05/10/2019 in the appropriate fields (since she said she made the payment last week). If you know the check number, you can also enter that information in the Check Information section. Then click Search.


A list of all payments fitting those parameters will be displayed on the bottom half of the page, and you can determine where the payment was posted in error. Here you can see that the payment was posted to Michael Jones, instead of Mary Jones.

Let’s look at another example when the Search Payments feature could be useful tool: when a patient requests a list of payments made within a certain time frame.

Mary Jones asks for a list of all payments made on her account during the year of 2018. In this situation, use the Select Date section and enter a date range from 01/01/2018 to 12/31/2018. Next, in the Select Guarantor section, use the search arrow to select Mary. Jones as the guarantor. Since she wants a list of all payments made, in the Select Payment Types box, check All.  Then, select Search to display the list of payments that meet the chosen parameters.


Once you have your results, you can print this list for the patient. You also have the option to print a cover page.

These are just two examples of when Search Payments can be very useful. Keep in mind that you can narrow down the amount of matching results by adding as much information as you have in your search filters. And, you can use this Search Payments tool to find either an insurance payment or a patient payment.

Familiarize yourself with this feature and let me know the ways you use it. I think there are many situations where this would be a great tool! 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, May 8, 2019

More Information? You Better Believe It!

As a Certified Dentrix trainer I often get asked the question, “What can I do to access the data I need more quickly and easily?” The More Information icon can give you the data you need very quickly. I find this tends to be an under-utilized icon that can be a big time-saver for your office.


You can find the More Information icon in the Dentrix Appointment Book, Patient Chart, Family File, Ledger, and Document Center.

After choosing a patient and selecting the icon, the More Information window gives you the following valuable information about the patient and any other family members (providing they are in the same Family File):


A. Appointments

  • Past, future, and unscheduled appointments
  • Appointment Reason (what the highlighted appointment is for)
  • Indication if a lab case is attached

B. Continuing Care

  • Due dates for each continuing care type and if an appointment is scheduled for that type

C. Family Account Information

  • Family balance including account aging
  • Payment agreement information (if applicable)
  • Account billing type
  • Last Payment Date
  • Last Insurance Payment Date
  • Last Billing Statement Date
  • Ability to go right to the Ledger from this screen

D. Patient Demographic Information

  • Patient birth date, address, e-mail addresses, phone numbers
  • Ability to quickly add an Office Journal entry from this screen
You have the option to view all this information for each patient in the family simply by selecting that patient at the top of the window.

Here are some examples of questions patients may ask that you can quickly answer just by using the More Information window:

"When was my last appointment and what was it for?"

"When am I due for a cleaning?"

When are my spouse and children due for their cleanings?"

"What address do you have on file for me?"

"What is my balance?"

"When is my next payment due?"

Because I’m able to answer all these questions and access all this type of information from just one window, I find it to be my go-to tool to quickly access the information I’m looking for. Try using the More Information icon instead of accessing the information from other areas in Dentrix and see how much time you can save! 

Contact 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, May 1, 2019

Participating in a Dental Savings Plan

With the joint venture of Henry Schein One, Henry Schein has partnered with other companies to help your office in provide your patients the best possible experience. One of those companies is DentalPlans.com.

DentalPlans.com provides patients a way to purchase a dental savings plan. There is an increasing need for these types of plans, especially for patients who do not have dental insurance provided by their employer, are self-employed, or are retired.



DentalPlans.com offers 30 savings plans with over 20 well-known network partners, and some plans also have additional benefits like vision and prescription savings.

These savings plans are a good choice for patients because unlike traditional insurance, there are no plan maximums and no restrictions for age or frequency. After paying a yearly fee, patients receive discounted fees for procedures, which can help them afford the dental treatment they need.


Participating with DentalPlans.com dental savings plans are a good choice for your office too. By making dental treatment affordable, you can help to increase case acceptance. You can create a fee schedule in Dentrix for the savings plan, and when you print a treatment case, you can select Compare to Fee Schedule to show the patient the difference between your office fee and the discounted fee they will receive.






I’ve found this to be a good tool when presenting a treatment plan to increase case acceptance.


When you partner with DentalPlans.com, your office will also receive free marketing. Your office will be listed on their website’s search results when potential patients search by dentist name or practice location, which can help generate new patients. Also, by partnering with DentalPlans.com, your office will move to the top of their provider list, increasing your exposure.


Another benefit of your office accepting dental savings plans is that there are no insurance claim forms to file, which saves you time. And because patients on a savings plan pay at the time of service, that will help your accounts receivable and reduce timely and costly collection processes.


One final reason to think about partnering with DentalPlans.com versus offering an in-office discount plan, is that your staff doesn’t have to keep up with patient payments for these for plans.

I encourage you to visit DentalPlans.com and consider implementing these dental savings plans for your patients.

Please contact 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 24, 2019

Assigning User Password Rights in Dentrix


Setting up and using Dentrix passwords properly in your office is very important. And one of my favorite features dealing with passwords, is the ability to assign password rights to different team members based on their job classification. 

First, set up a password administrator (usually the owner doctor and/or an office manager), that has rights to access Practice Password Setup in Dentrix. This allows the administrator to assign the tasks in Dentrix each role in the practice has access to.

Once you’ve assigned a password administrator, I recommend that you determine the tasks in Dentrix each role in your practice should be allowed to perform. For example, dental assistants should have password rights to do perform tasks like adding treatment plans and clinical notes.

In the Office Manager > Maintenance > Practice Setup > User Password Setup, assign password user rights first for one assistant, and then copy those rights to the other assistants in the practice. 



Then determine which tasks a hygienist can perform. Setup the password user rights for the first hygienist, then copy those rights to the others. Repeat this same process for your front desk staff. The office manager should usually have more access to the software, for example with the ability to run reports and post adjustments, but this should be based on what the owner doctor is comfortable with.

You can use this Overview of Password User Rights to help you determine which tasks members of your team should (or should not) be assigned.

One of the reasons I think it is important to assign password rights by job classification is because it reduces errors. For example, you may not want to give a hygienist the ability to do an insurance write-off because she may not have the insurance knowledge necessary to do that accurately. Similarly, you may not want someone at the front desk to generate a prescription because she does not have as much knowledge about the patient’s health history. 

Another reason to use passwords is protect your practice. Unfortunately, embezzlement does happen in dental offices. It can happen by employees manipulating patient payments and accounts or by manipulating their clock in and out times to appear they worked more hours than they did. Limiting the employees that can perform these types of tasks can reduce the risk to your practice. 

Dentrix passwords are great if your office uses them properly. Here are three of things to remember about using passwords effectively:

  1. Don't allow employees to share a computer logged in under the same user ID.
  2. If you got to lunch or leave for the day, be sure your computer is logged out of Dentrix.
  3. Don't share your password login information with others.

If used properly, Dentrix passwords can help to protect patient information, reduce errors, and protect your practice by limiting the number of staff given permission to perform certain tasks.

For additional information about passwords:
Please email 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 17, 2019

Properly Assigning and Using Insurance Fee Schedules in Dentrix

If your office participates and is in-network with insurance companies, here are some tips for how to assign and use fee schedules for those plans in Dentrix.

First, enter the fee schedules for the insurance companies your office participates with. This can be done in the Office Manager (Maintenance > Practice Setup > Fee Schedule Setup). When setting up a new fee schedule, I like to copy my office’s fee schedule first, and then change the fees for the codes the insurance company has provided me. The reason for doing it this way is that there are usually some procedure codes the insurance companies don’t provide a fee for on their fee schedule. By copying the office fee schedule first, I can ensure that all codes will have a fee attached.


When you enter a new insurance plan in Dentrix, attach the corresponding fee schedule. Once the fee schedule has been set up in the Office Manager, it will be available to attach to an insurance plan.

The benefit of attaching fee schedules to insurance plans is so you will charge the patient the contracted fee that corresponds with their insurance company. This helps to accurately estimate both patient and insurance portions of charges. 

However, it is also important that the insurance company sees your office fees. This is important for two reasons. Firstly, insurance companies determine their usual and customary fees by taking an average of the fees for offices in your zip code. Secondly, if you are billing the insurance company your full fee, you will be able to see on the EOB if they have increased the contracted amount. I have seen an EOB allowing $1 more for a prophy than what had been previously entered on the fee schedule. If your office does ten prophys a day, that is an additional $10 per day in production! 

You can have the best of both worlds with Dentrix. You can charge the contracted fee to the patient’s Ledger AND bill the full office fee to the insurance by using claim format DX2012F. You can choose the claim format to use within the insurance plan.


By properly assigning and using fee schedules and claim formats in Dentrix, you can more accurately bill and collect from the patient and ensure the highest possible reimbursement amounts from insurance companies.

For additional information, the article titled Simply PPO Insurance Estimation Using Fee Schedules in the Dentrix Magazine online archives.

If you have 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, April 10, 2019

New Features in Dentrix G7.1 Health History Worth Shouting About

Last week I talked about the integration of CareCredit within the patent Ledger in Dentrix G7.1. This week let’s talk about another exciting new feature in G7.1, the improvements to the patient Health History module.

Dentrix has made vast improvements to the patient Health History over the past few releases. In older versions of Dentrix there was a limit of sixty-four medical alerts. In Dentrix G7, the limit of sixty-four was removed, and you now have the ability to separate medical conditions and allergies into their own categories. You can also inactivate medical conditions and allergies that no longer apply to the patient, keeping a record that the patient previously had a medical issue.

Now, Dentrix G7.1 has made the patient Health History even better with the following capabilities:



  1. Add and store an emergency contact, physician, and/or a preferred pharmacy contact information for each patient within Health History.
  2. View prescriptions given by your office without leaving the Health History module.
  3. View and print Questionnaires from within the Health History module.
  4. Record medications (as reported by the patient) that have been prescribed by other doctors.
  5. Health History pop-ups which can replace patent alerts for specific medical conditions, allergies and medications. You determine which areas of Dentrix you want to display the Health History pop-ups and which medical conditions, allergies and medications you want the pop-ups to display for. 
The two new features I’m most excited about are the last two in this list. #4 - Being able to document patient-reported medications is a great feature because in previous versions of Dentrix there was not a specific place to list patient reported medications. #5 - Health History pop-ups are a great feature to alert your team to patients with conditions that can cause contraindications with their dental work, such as requiring pre-medication or taking a blood thinner. Additionally, the pop-up feature can also be a big time-saver because it eliminates double data-entry when your staff is entering both patient alert notes and medical condition alerts.

With these improvements to the Health History module, you now can log a comprehensive health history for each patient. There is now one location where you can record medical conditions & allergies, document patient reported medications, access prescriptions you have given the patient, and store emergency contact, physician contact and preferred pharmacy information.

Using the new Health History module to its fullest extent can help your office eliminate the need to refer to a written health history because now you have a specific place in Dentrix for all this information. If you haven’t updated to the latest version of Dentrix, first be sure to check the hardware system requirements and make sure you have a current back up. Once you have updated, I think you will be extremely happy with the latest changes and how they can improve your office workflow. 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.