Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Reduce Claim Denials and Delays with Automatic eClaims Attachments

It’s always a challenging part of a dental office manager’s job to get dental insurance companies to pay for procedures in a timely manner. Insurance companies will use any excuse to delay paying, and there’s often additional information and/or attachments that are required for certain procedures to get them to process a claim. 

With the constant changes in dental insurance, knowing what types of information are required for each insurance company and for each procedure code can be difficult to keep up with. 

For eClaims customers, Dentrix G7.3 added a new feature that will automatically attach images to claims whenever it can, or notify you that an attachment is required if it cannot attach the files automatically. Each insurance company can have its own attachment requirements, which can be entered and saved in Dentrix. 

The Automatic eClaims Attachments feature can benefit your office in a couple of different ways. 

You may have administrative team members that don’t have the experience to know exactly which types of attachments are needed for each procedure. Even with seasoned team members, constant changes in insurance requirements make it difficult to keep up with requirements.  

Failing to provide required information to insurance companies can cause delays in payment. These delays can be significant. If a claim for a crown usually takes four to six weeks to be paid by insurance, and the necessary attachments aren’t provided when the claim is initially submitted, the insurance company can often take an additional four to six weeks once they receive the attachments to process and pay the claim. It’s best to provide the information when the claim is originally submitted to avoid these delays. 

The Automatic eClaims Attachments feature eliminates the need for team members to have to remember which insurance company requires certain types of attachments for procedures by having automatic attachments set up by insurance company and by procedure code. 

Having this information attach automatically ensures it is sent with the original claim, avoiding payment delays. Plus, you’ll save time by not having to add these attachments to claims manually. 

As you discover other procedure codes that may require an attachment, you can customize and add attachment requirements based on the needs of your office and trends that you notice with the insurance companies you work with. 


For example, I worked with an office recently that said they have to send an X-ray for an occlusal filling for a particular insurance company. It would be a good idea for them to add this information into Dentrix so that when a claim for an occlusal filling is created, the X-ray will automatically be attached.

Having Dentrix automatically add required attachments can save time by automating the process for you. It eliminates the need for team members to know the different types of attachments required by insurance companies, which may be very challenging, especially for newer employees. Most importantly, by automatically adding attachments, you’ll know all required attachments are sent with the initial claim to avoid delays in claim payment. 

Register for the 2021 Dentrix Insights Digital Summit and attend the session titled "Reduce Coverage Surprises and Claim Delays with New Tools in Dentrix" for a more in-depth look at this topic.

If you have questions about automatic claim attachments, 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, May 5, 2021

Reports You Can Generate to Find Insured Patients

There are different reasons you may want to analyze which dental insurance plans patients have in your practice. 

Maybe you are considering dropping one of the plans you are in network with due to a low fee schedule. It would be important to first evaluate how many active patients have that dental insurance plan, and if you would be losing those patients if you were to drop that plan.

Another reason you may want to evaluate how many patients have a particular dental insurance plan is if a specific plan has competitive fees and a great payment history. You may want to try and attract more patients with this insurance plan. You could find out where the covered patients are employed and do some marketing to try to gain more patients from that employer. 

There are several different reports you can run in Dentrix to find the number of patients that are covered under a particular insurance.

Insurance Carrier List

One report to consider is the Insurance Carrier List. This list will provide you with options to view basic insurance plan information including maximum and deductibles, a list of subscribers, a list of all insured patients, or a combination of this information.


Letters and Custom Lists

If you prefer to generate a list for a range of insurance plans you could use the Patient Report (by Filters) in Letters and Custom Lists. By using this report, you could get a number of patients for a range of plans within an insurance carrier. For example, if you wanted a number of all MetLife patients, you could generate a list by a range of insurance plans beginning with the first MetLife plan and ending with the last MetLife plan entered in your system. 

If you only want to include active patients on this report, and not inactive patients or non-patients (which may be the insured but not a patient), be sure to only select the Patient option under Status in the Letter or Custom List Setup dialog box. 


The results from this type of report can be shown in the List Manager. The List Manager is a great way to view the information because you can select a patient from the list, and then open other Dentrix Modules from the list and view additional patient information.

However, in the example I gave earlier, if you are simply looking for a number of patients with a MetLife plan, I would suggest opening the list in Excel. That way you can scroll to the bottom of the list and quickly find the number of patients (by looking at the spreadsheet row number). 

Utilization Report for Dental Insurance

The Utilization Report for Dental Insurance is a great report to evaluate your office fee compared to the fee an insurance plan is allowing you to charge. This may be a good report to generate if your practice is considering dropping an insurance plan. 



The Utilization Report shows you detailed information regarding procedures performed, the total number of patients seen (based on the date range you enter) and the fees charged. 

There are several reasons you may want to view reports regarding what insurance plans patients have. Your office may be considering dropping an insurance contract due to low reimbursement, or you may want to attract more patients with another plan if their insurance has competitive fees and is easy to work with. 

With Dentrix, there are a few different reports you can generate to obtain the information and evaluate the data to make the best business decisions for your practice. 

Email 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, April 28, 2021

Tips for Using the Health History Module More Effectively

Updating and entering a patient's health history is a very important part of what your assistants and hygienists do during a patient’s appointment. Here are some tips you can share with them so that they can use the Dentrix Health History module more efficiently.

For your clinical team to be able to enter medical conditions, allergies, and medications, your office must first have a database of these items to select from. You’ll find that medical conditions and allergies are typically already in your system. Patient-reported medications will need to be entered in Health History. This gives your office the opportunity to decide how medications should be entered. For example, you could enter the brand name of the drug and use that for generic forms of the drug as well, or you could enter both brand name and generic drug names. Create a database for your practice based on the needs of your office and your doctors' preferences.

Assigning Health History Items to Patients

You can enter medical conditions, allergies, and patient-reported medications individually by selecting the Health History item you want to attach to the patient from this list of options; or you can attach multiple Health History items to a patient at once by selecting the Add Multiple option. 


Selecting to add an individual medical condition, allergy, or medication is a good option when you only have one item to enter.

But if you need to enter more than one medical condition, allergy, or patient-reported medication, use the Add Multiple option. This would be the best way to enter health history information for a new patient or a patient who has had a lot of medical changes that need to be entered. By using the Add Multiple option, your assistant and hygienist can save time by selecting all applicable medical conditions, allergies, and/or patient reported medications from a single location at once. 


It’s important to note that if a patient has already been assigned a medical condition, allergy, or medication in their Health History, it will no longer be available on the list of medical conditions, allergies, and medications to choose from.

Inactivating Health History Items That No Longer Apply

You should work towards having a comprehensive health history for your patients. Train your clinical team to inactivate medical conditions, allergies, and medications that no longer apply to the patient instead of deleting them. This way you'll have a record that this condition did apply to the patient in the past. When inactivating a medical condition, allergy, or medication, you have an option to add a note, which I would recommend. An example of a note on an inactivated patient-reported medication could be “Patient no longer takes blood pressure medication. Blood pressure is controlled through diet and exercise.” Be sure to include the date of the note and the initials of the staff member making the note.

Copying Health History Items to Clinical Notes

There is an option to copy the patient’s Health History to their clinical notes. This is a time saver for your clinical team when writing their notes because they don’t have to type in all the patient’s medical conditions, allergies, and/or medications. It also ensures accurate clinical notes because they won’t forget to enter anything into the clinical note. When copying Heath History items to a clinical note, you have the option of including only current items, or including inactive items as well.


Having an accurate health history for your patients is a critical part of their care. Share these health history tips with your clinical team so that they can enter health histories more efficiently. Email 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, April 21, 2021

Alternate Ways to Use Procedure Notes in Your Practice

In past blog posts I’ve written about clinical notes and why having accurate clinical notes is critical for your office, but I haven’t written much about procedure notes. You can use procedure notes in conjunction with clinical notes, and I wanted to give you some ideas on how to use procedure notes in your office.

A procedure note is specific to a procedure, and you can enter the note manually or have it post to a procedure automatically.

Here are a couple of scenarios when you may want to add a procedure note manually.  

Communicate Information About a Procedure for Insurance Claims - If you are treatment planning a crown on tooth #14 and the tooth has an existing crown, the clinical team could ask the patient the age of the existing crown and record that information in the procedure note. Once recorded, that information is easily available to the administrative team to view after the procedure is completed and they file the patient’s insurance claim. The age of an existing crown is important because most insurance companies have a replacement period for crowns of five to ten years. You can even add procedure notes to the remarks for unusual services within an insurance claim. And it’s easy to delete the parts of the procedure note that aren’t needed for the claim.


Communicate Information About a Procedure to a Patient - You can use a procedure note to communicate information to the patient regarding a procedure. For example, if a patient needs a replacement crown on tooth #14 due to recurrent decay you could make a procedure note that conveys this information. There is an option to include procedure notes when printing a treatment case, so patients are aware of why a procedure needs to be completed. 


Record Information About a Procedure for Future Reference - I recently worked with an office that wanted a quick way to record the shade used for a filling. They didn’t want to have to read through the clinical notes to find this information, so they entered the shade in the procedure note. That way, the next time the patient comes in for another filling, they can quickly see which shade was used last time. 

Copying Procedure Notes Automatically

You can set up procedure notes in the Dentrix Office Manager for individual procedure codes. Once set up, you can choose to copy the note to the procedure note, copy the note to the clinical note, or not to copy it at all.
 
Copying the procedure note to the clinical note can be a good option in some situations. I would recommend using it when there isn’t any part of the clinical note that could vary by patient. For example, you may make the same clinical note every time you deliver an occlusal guard, so you may want to copy the procedure note to the clinical note automatically whenever the procedure is set complete. This saves you time from having to type the same information in both notes, and ensures accuracy by having consistent wording in your notes.

To set this up, in the Office Manager, select Maintenance > Practice Setup > Procedure Code Setup, and select the category and code for an occlusal guard (D9944). Then click Edit to open the Procedure Code Editor. Click the Edit Note button, enter the note you will use for this code in the Procedure Code Progress Note field, and select Copy to Clinical Note. When you click OK, any time you complete that code, the procedure note is automatically copied to the clinical note.


On the other hand, I would not recommend using the Copy to Clinical Note option for procedures that do vary by patient and procedure; for example, in a clinical note for a filling, the type of anesthetic and number of carpules will vary by patient. 

You can use procedure notes in several ways in your office: to communicate information about procedures for insurance claims, to communicate with a patient about a procedure, and to record information about a procedure for future reference.

You can also save time and ensure accuracy by choosing to copy procedure notes to the clinical notes, which may be helpful for some procedures in your office that are the same for each patient. 

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 14, 2021

Four Dentrix Tasks You Can Schedule to Run Automatically

The Reports and Tasks Scheduler is not only a great tool to help you close out the month in Dentrix, but you can also set it up to run tasks and reports automatically. It's very easy to use. Most offices know how to use the Task Scheduler, but I want to take a moment to talk about why some of these tasks are so important.


Closing Transactions 

Closing transactions is an important task to be done on a monthly basis for a couple of reasons.

First, when transactions are closed, they are locked and can no longer be edited or deleted. Prohibiting these changes on completed procedures and posted payments can help to prevent fraud in your office.

Second, the process of closing transactions will age patient accounts, moving balances through the aging process: current to over 30 days past due, 30 days past due to over 60 days past due, and so forth. Aging account balances correctly is important to keep your accounts receivables accurate. 

Finally, by closing transactions, your practice’s month-to-date and year-to-date production, collections, and adjustments totals are more accurate. 

Moving Clinical Notes to History

By moving clinical notes to history, you are locking them so they can’t be edited or deleted. This is for the protection of the practice. It’s very important to protect the integrity of clinical notes as it is a part of the patient’s medical record. If the clinical notes are ever subpoenaed, it is in the practice’s best interest for them to be unedited. Kind of like when we had paper charts, we would always write clinical notes in pen, never in pencil which could be erased.  

It’s important to note that if your doctors and hygienists sign their clinical notes in the patient Chart, they will be moved to history automatically when signed. You can use the Task Scheduler to move any, unsigned notes in to history. 

Recalculating Totals

Recalculating totals will ensure that your month-to-date and year-to-date production and collections numbers are most accurate. Most offices have this task set to run automatically, daily, in the Task Scheduler. 

Resetting Insurance Benefits

When you use the Task Scheduler to reset a patient’s insurance benefits, you are resetting their dental insurance maximums and deductibles.  This is based on the renewal month you entered when setting up the patient’s insurance plan. Having insurance benefits that have been correctly reset is very important so that when you create treatment plans, the estimates Dentrix calculates are more accurate. Resetting a patient’s benefits used and deductibles met also affects patient portions of balances, which if incorrect, will cause the statements you send to patients to be inaccurate. 

This is an especially critical task in January, because many plan maximums and deductibles are based on a calendar year.

The tasks I mentioned are just a few available tasks in the Task Scheduler, but they are tasks that are important for every office to understand, know how they affect a patient’s account, and why they should use them. 

For additional information on setting up and using the Reports and Tasks Scheduler, see the various topics listed under the Reports and Tasks Scheduler Overview in Dentrix Help.

If you have questions about the Reports and Tasks Scheduler, 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 7, 2021

Dentrix G7.4 Features to Help Clean Up Your Database

Spring has arrived and brings with it a fresh start. It also makes me think of spring cleaning and beginning with a clean slate. You can apply this in your dental practice by spring cleaning your Dentrix database. Some of the new features in Dentrix G7.4 make these tasks even easier! 

Inactivating Providers

Inactivating providers and staff that no longer work at your office used to be a tedious task because all your computers had to be out of Dentrix. In Dentrix G7.4, that is no longer the case. You also have the ability to transfer balances and credits from the provider you are inactivating to a replacement provider. This eliminates another tedious task of allocating credit balances among your remaining providers. 

Why should you inactivate providers and staff that no longer work at your office?  It is beneficial to do so because those providers will no longer be available from the list of providers when scheduling an appointment, which can become long and cumbersome for team members to scroll through while searching for a current provider. 

Also, if you use the Dentrix Time Clock, it’s helpful to not have staff members who no longer work in your office included in the Time Clock Reports. 

Cleaning Up Families

The process of combining and separating family members in Dentrix is important. Account balances include all family members, so you wouldn’t want a husband and wife to have two separate Family File accounts. This would result in them receiving two billing statements, and neither account would indicate there is a family balance so you could collect when either patient comes into the office.
 
On the other hand, you wouldn’t want a divorced husband and wife to share the same Family File account, because in that situation, you would want them to have separate balances, receive separate billing statements, etc.
 
In Dentrix G7.4 the process of combining and separating families has become easier by allowing you to indicate how you want account balances to be handled and then posting them automatically for you.
 
Another reason it’s important to have family members correctly assigned in the Family File is that many reports, such as the Patient Route Slip and Walkout, list other family member information, such as continuing care due dates and upcoming appointments. This information can be helpful for your team when scheduling and also for the patient as a reminder. 

Joining or Purging Duplicate Insurance Plans and Employers

It’s common for offices to have duplicate insurance plans and employers. This is the result of team members not searching properly to see if a plan or employer already exists in your Dentrix database before entering a new one. Duplicate insurance plans and employers can be joined, and insurance plans and employers that aren’t attached to a patient can be purged (deleted). This task can be done in Insurance Maintenance and Employer Maintenance in the Dentrix Office Manager. 

Spring cleaning your Dentrix database is a task I would recommend doing on an annual basis for the following reasons:
  • Inactivating providers will make scheduling appointments easier and can help with the process of allocating provider balances and credits. 
  • Inactivating staff makes generating Time Punch and Payroll Reports easier in the Dentrix Time Clock.
  • Combining and separating family members can help to keep patient accounts more accurate. 
  • Joining and/or purging insurance plans and employers will eliminate duplicates, which will result in reports being more accurate. 

If you have questions about these topics, 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 31, 2021

Common Dentrix Lists Every Office Should Use

Many dental offices keep lists—lists for patients that want to come in sooner, lists of patients that cancel at the last minute or no-show for an appointment, lists of patients with an appointment that day who need to pay a balance.

This is all important information for your office, but when it's written on a list at the schedule coordinator’s desk, it's inconvenient for the rest of the team to access, typically resulting in having multiple lists and the lists not being accurate. 

Did you know you can use Dentrix to create and access these lists of patients? Not only does that eliminate another piece of paper in your office, it's also more convenient because everyone in your office has access to the lists from their workstation.

Here are three common lists you can create and use in your office.

ASAP List

It's very common for dental offices to have a list of patients who want to be seen as soon as possible. This is a great way to not only fill last-minute openings on your schedule, but it’s also a good service to provide to your patients, especially those who want an available appointment time because they are experiencing discomfort. 

In the Appointment Information dialog box, from the Schedule drop-down list, you can assign an appointment as ASAP, which places that patient’s appointment on the ASAP List. If you have a cancellation or last-minute opening in your schedule, you can access the ASAP List and use it to contact patients who have indicated they would like an earlier appointment.


There is also an option for an appointment to have the schedule type of OPEN, which is helpful to indicate patients who have a flexible schedule, such as a child out of school for the summer, or a retired patient who has a flexible schedule.

For additional information, read The New Dentrix Appointment List.

The Unscheduled List

When a patient calls to cancel his or her appointment and cannot immediately reschedule, there are two things you can do in Dentrix to ensure that the appointment doesn’t get lost or forgotten.

If a patient cancels an appointment at the last minute or no-shows for an appointment, the appointment should be “broken” from the Appointment Book (right-click the appointment on the schedule and select Break Appointment, or use the Break Appointment button). When you break an appointment, it is removed from the Appointment Book schedule, placed on the Unscheduled List, and counted as a missed appointment in the patient's Family File. 

If a patient cancels an appointment with adequate notice, you should use the Wait/Will Call button in the Appointment Information dialog box instead of breaking the appointment. When you assign an appointment as Wait/Will Call, the appointment is removed from the Appointment Book schedule and added to the Unscheduled List (with a status of Will Call to differentiate it from a broken appointment), but will not count as a missed appointment in the patient's Family File because the patient provided adequate notice.
 
Regardless of whether an appointment is broken or marked as Wait/Will Call, it is moved to the Unscheduled List.  Whether the appointment is counted as a missed appointment in the Family File depends on if it is broken (does count as a missed appointment) or marked as will call (not counted as a missed appointment).

The purpose of the Unscheduled List is to give you the ability to keep track of patients that have cancelled appointments so that you can contact them in the future to reschedule. When you do reschedule a patient's appointment, be sure to always reschedule the appointment from the Unscheduled List. If you have the Unscheduled List open on your computer, you can do the following:
  • Drag an appointment from the list to an open appointment time in the schedule
  • Double-click an appointment on the list and enter a new operatory, date, and time in the Appointment Information dialog box
  • Right-click an appointment and select Move to Pinboard while you find an available time to reschedule
There is a built-in feature in Dentrix that warns you if a patient has an appointment on the Unscheduled List. If you try to schedule an appointment for a patient on the Unscheduled List, a pop-up message appears. 

You should train your team that if they receive this warning message, it's very important to click Yes, view the unscheduled appointment, and then reschedule from the Unscheduled List. If they don't, they will make a new appointment for the patient, and the unscheduled appointment will remain on the list. This will result in your list being inaccurate and therefore not a practical tool to track and follow up with patients.

List of Patients With a Balance

You can generate a checklist for patients coming in for an appointment today. This checklist can include items such as if the patient has an account balance of more than $10, or if the family has a past due payment agreement. Dentrix will indicate which patients these items apply to so that you can address them as the patients come in. It’s called the Scheduled Patients Summary, and it’s part of the Daily Huddle Report.

The Scheduled Patient Summary is an important tool to use in your daily morning meetings. You can use this information to talk with your staff members about opportunities you have to discuss future appointments or other patient problems with patients coming into the office today.

You can use Dentrix to create and maintain the common patient lists you use in your office. By generating the lists through Dentrix, the information will populate for you without you having to notate it manually. Dentrix lists are accessible to everyone in your office, instead of a single paper list on someone’s desk that can quickly become outdated.

For more information, 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.  


Thursday, March 25, 2021

Tips for Posting Insurance Payments

Last week, we talked about the best way to post patient payments in Dentrix. Posting payments is a critical job in any dental office because if you aren’t collecting payment for the procedures you perform, you can’t be successful. 

This week, we’ll look at some of the ways that Dentrix can help you to collect payment from insurance companies. 

Filing claims in a timely manner is very important. You want the insurance company to receive your claims as quickly as possible so that those claims can be processed and paid. 

Using Dentrix eClaims, you can submit your claims quickly. I suggest sending all your claims at the end of your workday, or even twice a day for busy offices. With integrated claim tracking, you can easily review detailed submission reports to keep you better informed of the status of your claims. 

In Dentrix G7.3, a new features was added that warns you if your claims require an attachment for a specific procedure code. 


This is very helpful because it eliminates the problem of forgetting to submit an attachment, like an X-ray, for a procedure like a crown, waiting for an EOB from the insurance company, only to be told they need an X-ray in order to process the claim.

Once claims have been filed and you are waiting for insurance payments, track your insurance claims using the Insurance Aging Report. I recommend working this report weekly to handle issues right away and avoid a delay in receiving the insurance payment. Use the claim status notes so that it’s easy for everyone in your office to see what’s happening with claims. 




Including status notes will save you time as you are reviewing the report because if the report shows that you contacted an insurance company yesterday to check on a claim, then you can quickly move on to the next claim on the report without having to investigate each patient’s Ledger again. 


Once you receive the payment from insurance, try using the Enter Batch Insurance Payment feature to enter payments for claims. Using the batch insurance feature, if the insurance payment includes more than one claim, Dentrix will give you an error message if your payments don’t balance. This helps you avoid searching for a few cents at the end of the day when you run your deposit slip because you posted a payment incorrectly…. We have all been there!

When posting a payment to an insurance claim, always select the Itemize by Procedure option to enter the amount the insurance pays for each procedure, rather than the Total Payment Only option. This ensures that the payment is posted to the correct provider of the procedure. This process is extremely important, especially if you have an associate doctor paid based on collections. 


Also, by choosing the Itemize by Procedure option, you have the ability to update the payment table in Dentrix. The payment table will track the dollar amount paid for a procedure code and will apply that information to all patients covered under that same plan. This feature is very helpful if your office is out of network with an insurance plan, or if an alternate benefit is paid (such as for a posterior composite filling). 


Post any necessary adjustments based on the insurance EOB. Always be sure to split adjustments by provider in the same way you would split a payment, in order for your reports to be accurate. 
If there is a balance owed by the patient after you post the insurance payment, create a billing statement for the patient and mail it to them immediately. 

As with insurance claims, the faster you send the statement, the sooner you can expect to get paid. 
Getting paid and posting those payments accurately is a very important job in your dental office. Use the features in Dentrix to help you with this process.

Email 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 17, 2021

Posting Patient Payments

Posting payments is one of your most important jobs in your dental office. While it's great to have high production, you must also have collections that are equal to that production in order to be successful. If you aren’t getting paid for it, there isn’t much point in generating production. 

When you do receive payments for procedures, Dentrix has some helpful tools for you to use when posting both patient and insurance payments. In this week’s blog post, we’ll focus on features used when posting patient payments. We’ll look at posting insurance payments during next week’s post.

When posting patient payments, there are a couple of ways you can do it based on the situation.

If you are posting a payment while the patient is checking out, go to the patient's Ledger, and from the toolbar, select Transaction, and Enter Payment.


It's very important to post the payment to the provider of the procedure. If the patient saw more than one provider, you can select to split the payment by provider. This is helpful if the patient had an appointment with the hygienist for a prophy and a periodic exam with the doctor. 

The reason it's so important to post the payment (and corresponding adjustments, if any) to the specific provider of the procedure, is because it will result in your reports being accurate. It's also critical to post payments to the provider if your providers are paid based on collections. 


It is most accurate to post payments to the individual patient versus the family account. Do so by selecting the individual patient from the Patient drop-down list. If payments are posted to the family account, the guarantor will have a credit on their Ledger, while the patient will have a balance. If you are posting a payment for multiple family members, you can also the split by family member to split the payment. 



For the split method for the payment, I recommend using Guarantor Estimate because it's the only split method that takes into account what dental insurance will pay. There are other split methods which will calculate payment amongst providers in difference ways. 

You can save your split method preferences to be default each time a patient payment is posted in your office by selecting the Settings icon in the payment window. By saving these options as default, you can help ensure that all team members are posting patient payments consistently and properly.

For patient payments that are mailed into your office, you can use the batch payment feature. This saves a lot of time when posting patient payments because you don't have to select the patient and enter the payment through each patient’s individual Ledger. All payments can be posted using the batch payment feature. It's very convenient because everything you need to post the payment is located in one screen. Plus, by using the Batch Payment feature you still have all the same options to split the payment as you would by posting in each patient’s Ledger.



By posting patient payments accurately to the provider of the procedure, your Dentrix reports will be more accurate. You can also ensure that employees and associates who are paid based on collections are being compensated properly. By posting to the patient and not the family account, your patient balances will be correct and much easier for your office team and  patients to understand. And when you use the Batch Payment feature can save a lot of time when posting multiple patient payments. 

Next week, we’ll look at the features Dentrix offers when posting insurance payments and how they can benefit your office. Email 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 10, 2021

Tips for Setting Up and Presenting Treatment Plans

 Dentrix has awesome tools to help you provide high quality care to your patients. One of those tools is the Treatment Planner. You can use the Treatment Planner to provide your patients with treatment estimates. These estimates can include important information like the insurance deductibles and maximums, as well as the coverage percentages for specific procedures. The Treatment Planner also has tools to help you with case presentation. The key to high treatment acceptance is successful case presentation, so these tools can improve your case acceptance too. 

When a patient has an exam with the doctor and a treatment plan is recommended, the treatment plan should be entered into the Patient Chart by the clinical team. 

Once procedures are placed within a treatment plan case, your office treatment coordinator can use the Treatment Planner to make the treatment plan clear and easy for the patient to understand. She can do this by first assigning visits for procedures within the treatment plan. This will help the patient to know what the priority is for their treatment plan and which procedures need to be scheduled first. 


Also, when printing the treatment case, you can select to print subtotals by visit which will help them to know exactly what their out-of-pocket expense will be at each appointment. 


Another thing your treatment coordinator can do in the Treatment Planner is select a case severity of immediate, eventual, or optional for the treatment plan. Case Severity is shown on the printed treatment plan and can be seen by your staff within the Treatment Planner module so both the patient and your office staff are aware of how quickly this case should be scheduled. It’s important to note that case severity applies to the entire case. For example, if you are presenting an immediate treatment need, such as a root canal and a crown, but also are including veneers for cosmetic reasons, these procedures should be in two different cases, because the case severity for each will be indicated differently.  


Next, the treatment coordinator can apply case financing status, add case notes, and enter a fee expiration date for the treatment case. If the case notes and other options are the same for all treatment plans made in your office, these can be set as default for all treatment plan cases to save time. For example, many offices have a case note that is a disclaimer about insurance payment not being a guarantee, and they use it on all treatment plans. Set it up once, and then use it for all future plans.


When it’s time to print the treatment case to present to the patient, you’ll find there are many options to choose from. I like to print the simple style, because it uses the least printer ink and it’s very clean and simple. You can select a report style under Appearance Options when you print the Treatment Case.


Some other options I always suggest when printing a treatment case are to Use Dental Plan Maximums and Deductibles so that is calculated in the treatment estimate, to Hide Patient SSN for patient privacy, and to Print Subtotals by Visit so the patient knows their expected payment for each visit. Another great option is the option to Compare to Fee Schedule. This is a great tool when your office participates with the patient’s insurance plan and you want the patient to see how much money they are saving by using your office, an in-network provider. When you compare fee schedules, you choose two fees to be shown side by side on the printed report. To do this, you would select to compare to your office fee with the insurance plan fee. 

Once the treatment case is printed, the treatment coordinator can present it the patient. I think it’s best to discuss treatment plans and finances in a private quiet place out of earshot of other patients. Never present a treatment plan with a patient lying back in the chair because in that position the patient might feel more vulnerable. 

Present the fees for the treatment and explain the insurance’s estimated potion. It’s very important to use the word estimated because ultimately you don’t know exactly what the insurance company will pay. If a patient is insisting on an exact amount, you could suggest first submitting a pre-authorization to the insurance to be sure of the amounts that will be paid for a procedure. 

It can be helpful to offer patients payment options, such as CareCredit, so that they can pay monthly for the treatment to make it more affordable.
 
Once you have presented the treatment plan to the patient, and they accept and schedule an appointment, you can update the case status in the Treatment Planner to “Accepted.” This will help you to track your case acceptance, using reports like the Practice Advisor Report. 


A high case acceptance percentage is a good indicator of how well your office is doing in educating your patients on their recommended treatment. 

You can use the tools in the Treatment Planner to create easy-to-understand treatment plans for your patients, including insurance coverage, deductibles and maximums. Successfully presenting treatment plans to your patients can improve case acceptance, which can ultimately improve both your office’s production and collections.

Please email 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 3, 2021

Customizing the Patient Chart for Optimum Workflow

Last week we talked about some Dentrix Appointment Book customizations you can use to improve your workflow. This week let’s look at some customizations available in the Patient Chart.

You can customize the Patient Chart in many ways. This is great because you may have multiple doctors and team members in your office that like to view the Patient Chart differently. 

Customizing the Chart Layout

In the Patient Chart you can select a Chart Layout that best fits your individual needs. My favorite is the Treatment Planner Layout because in this layout, you can perform many tasks from a single screen, including treatment-planning procedures and conditions, setting visits, organizing a patient’s treatment plan, and printing their treatment case. You also have the option to have patients sign consent forms and accept and reject presented treatment plans.


Using Large Toolbar Icons

Another fan-favorite customization in the Patient Chart is the option to use large icons on the toolbar. Many offices ask if they can increase the size of the toolbar icons in Dentrix. Smaller monitors and the fact that team members may be looking at a monitor from across the operatory can make toolbar icons difficult to see. It can be helpful to use larger icons. This option is available in the Patient Chart, Document Center, and the Treatment Planner.

Creating Custom Clinical Notes

One of the customizations in the Patient Chart that will dramatically change your office workflow is the ability to create custom clinical notes. By creating custom clinical note templates, you can save your clinical team so much time while writing their clinical notes. In addition to being a much faster way to write clinical notes, you can be sure that the clinical notes are written consistently and exactly the way the doctors and hygienists want them to be written.  To take a deep dive into creating custom clinical notes and templates, click here to register for a virtual workshop


Customizing Procedure Buttons

Setting up procedure buttons will also dramatically improve your office workflow. Having these buttons available makes charting and treatment planning much faster because you don’t have to search through lists of codes to find the one you need. You can simply click a custom button that displays the icon of your choosing and is attached to the procedure codes you specify. By setting up procedure buttons, you reduce the possibility of a team member accidently using the wrong code, such as the wrong code for the type of crown done in your office. You can save and use procedure buttons sets on more than one workstation, so you have the ability to use the same button set throughout the office or create customized button sets for each user.


Customizing Chart Colors

Another customization option in the Patient Chart is the Chart Display setup. You can change the background theme, tooth style, and colors used to denote particular statuses to your preference. I would suggest if you do change the background theme colors in the Patient Chart, keep them consistent throughout the office. My favorite feature in the Chart Display setup is the option to use paint colors for progress notes. Selecting this option will cause the colors of the progress notes to correspond with the colors in the graphic portion of the Patient Chart. This feature makes it much easier to differentiate between conditions and treatment-planned, completed, and existing procedures at a glance. 


Progress Note Viewing Options

You can choose to filter the Progress Notes to view the procedures you want. The filter buttons are toggle switches that you can turn on or off. They include options to view treatment-planned procedures, completed procedures, existing work, conditions, exams and/or referrals. Using these icons to filter the Progress Notes can help you to quickly find the procedures or notes you’re looking for. This can be especially helpful when working with a patient with a long list of Progress Notes.


Viewing Chronological Clinical Notes

I’ve come across many doctors and hygienists that miss the way that they used to read their paper charts and clinical notes, in chronological order, the way they would read a book. You can help your doctor and hygienists to view their notes that way by selecting the icons for Clinical Notes and Expand Notes. Turn all the other filter icons off. I’ve found many doctors prefer to view their clinical notes in this format.


By using customizations, Dentrix can help your office to optimize efficiency and improve workflow. The features I mentioned are just a few of many available customizations. Dentrix is designed to make your work life easier and to do some of the work for you. If you have questions, 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.