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. 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, March 25, 2020

Things To Do When You Can't See Patients

The global pandemic, COVID-19, is affecting businesses dramatically. Dental offices have been ordered by state governors to postpone elective dental procedures. In my home state of Florida, elective procedures are postponed until May 8th. However, dentists must still be available to treat emergency procedures for their patients. For some offices this may mean having a limited number of staff in the office to answer the phone and assist the doctor in providing emergency care to patients.



Here are some other things that staff can do to be productive during this time when you aren’t providing regular patient care:

Run Software Updates

During a normal workday, it can be challenging to find time to have all computers out of Dentrix in order to run system updates. This may be a good time to update your software to the latest version.

Inactivate Old Providers and Staff

This process must be done when all workstations are logged out of Dentrix, so it can normally be difficult to find time to do this. The benefit of inactivating old providers is that there will be fewer providers to choose from in Dentrix, for example, when scheduling an appointment. This can make it easier and faster for team members to select the correct provider.

If you inactivate staff that no longer work for the practice, you won’t have to select from a long list of old employees when you generate timecards, which can save you time.

Clean Up Employers and Insurance Plans

Over time, offices tend to accumulate duplicate employers and insurance plans. This would be a good time to clean up your database by joining and purging employers and insurance plans. Dentrix will not allow you to purge an employer or insurance plan attached to a patient, so first you may want to generate an Employer List and Insurance Carrier List to identify which ones you want to purge.

Delete Duplicate Referral Sources

Just like employers and insurance plans, referral sources can develop duplicates. These can be cleaned up in Referral Maintenance in the Office Manager. You can’t delete a referral source attached to a patient. You can use the Referral Analysis to identify which patients are attached to a referral source you want to delete. These patients can then be moved to a referral source you want to keep, by adding that referral source to the patient’s Family File (remember to change the date of the referral) and deleting the referral attached to the duplicate source you plan to delete. 

Stay healthy and safe everyone! If you have questions about these topics or others, 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, March 18, 2020

Coronavirus Protection for Your Team and Patients



With the current Coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to protect yourself, your team, and your patients. This is also an important time to communicate to your patients the plan for your office. Are you temporarily closing? Are you remaining open? And if you are staying open, you need to reassure them that your office is a safe place to visit.

Here are some things I will be doing in my office during this time, and that I suggest you do as well:
  • Encourage patients and staff to wash their hands frequently. Have hand sanitizer dispensers located throughout the office to make it more convenient for staff and patients to use.
  • If you use iPads or tablets for patient paperwork, be sure to sanitize them with a disinfectant wipe between each patient. It's important for patients to see you do this, as it will reassure them that you office is taking necessary precautions to protect their health.
  • I also like to wipe down my office's computer keyboards, each computer mouse, and the telephones frequently. This is something I normally do on a regular basis anyway because these are areas the entire team tends to touch.
  • Disinfect the front desk, countertops, and commonly touched surfaces frequently.
  • Consider removing magazines and newspapers from the lobby as these tend to be handled by many people and could be contaminated. Also, if you have toys in your lobby for children, consider removing them during this time.
  • Using Dentrix Communication Manager, you can create email newsletters. This is a good way to communicate with your patients. You can communicate with them if your office is open, closed, or is changing office hours.
  • Email newsletters are also a good way to reassure your patients that your office takes their health and safety seriously. Explain to them that your team will (as always) be using universal precautions such as wearing gloves and masks, as well as being diligent with hand washing and the disinfecting of common areas.
  • For your patients' confidence, have your clinical staff open sterilization packs in front of the patient in the operatory. This will help to reassure the patient that everything in your office is clean and sterile.
  • And finally, if a team member isn't feeling well, make them stay home! Don't risk the health of other team members or your patients.
Stay healthy and safe! If you have questions, 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, March 11, 2020

4 Dentrix Features for Saving Time in Your Office

Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day! That’s something I find myself saying frequently and as a dental office manager. I’m sure you can relate.

There are so many things that need to be done throughout the day including patient management, HR duties, accounts receivable, insurance management, dental equipment maintenance, etc. And while I can’t create extra hours on your workday clock, I can tell you about some time saving tips using Dentrix features.

Flip Tabs

Flip Tabs in the Dentrix Appointment Book can help you more easily navigate your Appointment Book.

You can use flip tabs to take you to a specific date on your schedule or a date relative to today. For example, you can set up flip tabs to quickly jump to a date 2 weeks from today or 6 months from today. Flip tabs are workstation specific, so you can set them up based on individual team member’s scheduling needs.

Fast Check Out

When you use the Fast Checkout button in the Ledger, three things happen at once. You are prompted to enter a patient payment, an insurance claim is created for today’s procedures, and a patient walkout statement is printed.

This saves you time by not having to select each individual toolbar icon and do these tasks separately. Fast checkout options are workstation specific and customizable.

Screen Capture

Using the Screen Capture option in the Document Center and within dental insurance claims for attachments, can save your team members a lot of time.


This feature gives you the ability to capture a picture of your screen. I like to use this feature instead of importing documents from a file, because I find that it’s much faster.

Print to the Dentrix Document Center

Instead of printing a document and then scanning it into the Document Center, you can select the Send to Dentrix Document Center option when choosing a printer.


This sends a copy of the document to the Unfiled Documents area within the Document Center where it can be assigned to a patient. This eliminates the step of printing and then scanning, therefore saving you time.

These are just a few Dentrix features that can save you valuable minutes every day. If you have questions about these features, 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, March 4, 2020

Customizing the Patient Chart to Work For Your Team

When your clinical team is treatment planning in the operatories, it’s best to give them tools to help them do so quickly and accurately. Hygienists and assistants have limited time during patient appointments and need to be able to enter treatment-planned procedures quickly. It’s also very important that it’s done accurately by selecting the correct procedure codes. If the correct procedure codes aren’t selected during the treatment planning, you risk charging the patient the wrong procedure code.

Here are some ways you can customize the Patient Chart in Dentrix to give your clinical team the tools they need to be successful.

Customizing Procedure Buttons

Customizing procedure buttons in the Dentrix Patient Chart can help to ensure that the correct procedure codes are entered. You can control the code that is being treatment planned by setting up procedure buttons. For example, there are several codes for a crown, but you want your staff to only select the codes for the types of crowns you do in your office. Set up a procedure button for the correct code and assign it an icon that looks like a crown. This way you can ensure the correct code is used. 


Utilizing Multi-Codes

I love multi-codes! They make it so much faster to treatment plan procedures that involve more than one procedure code. For example, I have a multi-code set up for an implant (D6010), abutment (D6056), and implant supported crown (D6058). I only have to post that one multi-code and all the individual procedures are treatment planned in the patient's Chart. Multi-codes can be set up in the Office Manager, and they can also be used for procedure buttons.



Customize Procedure Codes

You can also edit procedure codes in the Office Manager. The Paint Type you select within the Procedure Code Editor determines how the procedure code is displayed on the patient’s graphic Chart. I’ve found that having paint types set up properly can help clinical staff to visualize a treatment plan. For example, a bridge procedure should have a Bridge paint type in order for it to look like a bridge as opposed to a single unit crown on the graphic Chart.


Also, in the Procedure Code Editor, you can uncheck the box next to Show in Chart, which will remove the procedure code from the Procedure Code List in the Patient Chart. I find that the Procedure Code List can be intimidating for some team members, so it can be beneficial to remove codes that you never use in your office. 

As a dental office manager, I feel that its my responsibility to provide my team with the tools and training to help them be their best. Customizing and simplifying the Patient Chart to help them treatment plan more efficiently can help them to do this process more quickly and more accurately. 

For more information 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, February 26, 2020

Handling Staff Changes

Staff changes in your dental practice are inevitable. People move, have life changes, and sometimes, just aren’t a good fit for your practice.

Make a habit of keeping records of your interactions with employees that aren’t a good fit for your office, so you have a paper trail.  When needed, it’s important to counsel staff on what they’re doing wrong and how they need to improve. Offer additional training in areas you find them struggling with, and keep a written record of these meetings and what was discussed.



It’s also a good idea to have the staff member sign off on this written record. This way you can protect your practice if you end up having to let the employee go. You’ll have written proof that you gave them chances to improve and gave them the necessary tools, but they ended up not meeting the expectations of your practice.

If a staff member makes the decision to leave your office, request their notice in writing. This way you will have proof the team member left by their choice, versus being let go, to avoid any repercussions to the practice, like having to pay unemployment. Remember to request that the staff member return property belonging to the practice, like keys to the office and uniforms.

When it comes to your Dentrix software, be sure to inactivate staff members (or providers in the case of hygienists and doctors) who no longer work at your office. Each user in your practice should have their own user ID for Dentrix. Never re-use a user ID! I’ve seen an office that had a dental assistant leave the practice, and instead of creating a new user ID for the replacement assistant, they simply changed the staff member’s name in Practice Resource Setup to the new assistant’s name. A user ID should be unique to each staff member because there is history associated with each user ID to allow you to see who did what in Dentrix.

I’ve also seen previous employees complain that they weren’t paid for the correct number of hours. If you use the Dentrix Time Clock, and each employee has their own unique user ID, it will be easy for you to view their clock in/out history to prove that your practice paid them correctly.

Keeping accurate employee records can help you to protect your practice.

For additional information, read these related articles about team management:
If you have questions about 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, February 19, 2020

3 Dentrix Tools To Help You Accurately Collect Payment At Time of Service

I always recommend collecting from patients at the time of service. If you don’t collect from patients when they are seen for treatment, it ends up costing your practice more money. It costs you money to send out statements. It also costs you money when your staff spends time contacting patients regarding their balances. And if patients don’t pay and you have to send the account to a collection agency, there are costs involved in that too.

Here are three of my favorite tools in Dentrix to help you collect accurately from patients at the time of service.

Coverage Table

Every insurance plan in Dentrix should have a coverage table associated with it. The coverage table is used to enter how much the insurance plan will cover for a particular procedure or group of procedures.


My favorite feature of coverage tables is that they are completely customizable. You can create your own procedure code ranges based on trends you see in your office. For example, if you notice a full mouth series of X-rays is being covered with a deductible applied, you can customize the coverage table to reflect that. This customization can be done for each individual insurance carrier or you can change your default coverage table in the Office Manager.

Payment Table

The payment table is one of my favorite features in Dentrix. It allows you to enter in the dollar amount that an insurance company will pay for a specific procedure code. This is extremely helpful for procedures that typically have an alternate benefit applied, like a posterior composite filling. It’s also extremely helpful if your office is out of network with an insurance company when the co-insurance percentages may not be accurate. Procedure codes and payment amounts can be entered in the Family File.


Or updated when posting insurance payments, using the Itemize by Procedure option. 


Override Insurance Estimates

If you know a procedure won’t be covered by insurance, (for example,  a replacement crown less than five years old) you can override the insurance estimate for the procedure. 


That way the patient is aware that the insurance won’t pay for the procedure and you can collect from the patient at the time of service.

Collecting accurately from patients at the time of service can reduce costly accounts receivables for your office. Using the features in Dentrix to help you calculate patient’s payment amounts can keep healthy cash flow and reduce accounts receivables. E-mail me if you have 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.