Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Using visual tools to communicate the status of the treatment plan

How do you communicate the status of the treatment plan with your team? Does your team know if the patient has accepted treatment? Is the patient okay to do all the treatment this year or is he or she breaking it up into two benefit years?

What I see with most dental teams is that the clinical discussion happens in the consult room or the treatment room with the doctor or hygienist … and then the patient is brought up front to talk with the financial coordinator where the financial discussion can change everything. If the doctor looks at the treatment plan later in the day, will he or she be able to clearly see what the patient accepted? When the patient is scheduled for the first visit, will the clinical team be able to clearly see the path for completing treatment?

There are some tools you can use on the treatment plan that can greatly improve your communication with your team. These non-verbal tools can help your clinical team clearly understand the patient’s wishes when he or she is sitting in your operatory. Here are three key features that are easy to use and visually obvious for the back and front.
  • The Stop Light – aka: Case Severity.  If a patient has lots of stuff on his or her treatment plan and you want to separate the treatment by priority, the colored stop light is an easy way to show this. Here are some examples that I use in my practices.
    • Red – Stop! The patients says no at this time. Maybe this is esthetics or that nightguard they don’t want to do right now.
    • Yellow – Maybe! The patient wants you to wait for next benefit year or until he or she comes up with the money.
    • Green – Go! The patient is ready to schedule and wants to get all this treatment completed in this benefit year or as soon as possible. This can help if the patient is in the chair and the doctor has extra time to add more treatment today.
  • Rename the Case – I used this a lot in my practice because it was a way I could clearly define what the case is. You could rename it “Priorities” or “2016 Benefit Year” or “Upper arch rehab.” Whatever you want to rename it, this really helps your team understand what the case is.
  • Claim Status History - You can add a follow-up note on any of the treatment plan cases and these notes will show up on the Case Status History tab. This can help your team know if the case has been reprinted, proposed, followed up on, or accepted.

Non-verbal communication is so important for the back and the front teams so they can be in the know about patient care. I hope these visual tools help you relay that important information.

Dayna Johnson, Certified Dentrix Trainer
Dayna loves her work. She has over 25 years of experience in the dental industry, and she’s passionate about building efficient, consistent, and secure practice management systems. Dayna knows that your entire day revolves around your practice management software—the better you learn to use it, the more productive and stress-free your office will be. In 2016, Dayna founded Novonee ™, The Premier Dentrix Community, to help cultivate Dentrix super-users all over the country. Learn more from Dayna at and contact Dayna at


  1. This is a great visual tool to help communicate with your dental team while a dental procedure is being commenced. Thanks for the post, this is great information.

  2. Excellent blog. More and more patients accept bigger treatment when all staff is synchronous and in the know. When one staff member hesitates or forgets protocol that can be the difference between a red and green.