Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Insurance Features in Dentrix G7.5 You Can Get Excited About

In recent blog posts, I’ve written about some of the new features and improvements introduced in Dentrix G7.5. This week, we will look at some of the new features that are designed to help practices manage patients’ dental insurance. 

Partial Insurance Payments

Dentrix G7.5 gives you the ability to post a partial insurance payment. I think this new feature is going to be especially useful when you’re posting a payment for an orthodontic claim or another type of claim that is paid over a period of time. 

By posting a claim as partially paid, the claim will remain “open” instead of closing the claim and appearing as if the guarantor owes the remaining account balance. You have the option to exclude partially paid claims from the Insurance Aging Report; or if you choose to include them, there will be an asterisk to indicate the claim has been partially paid. 

You also have the option to exclude accounts with partially paid claims when sending billing statements. This can help to eliminate patient confusion when sending a statement. For example, if you were to send a statement to a patient with a $1000 account balance which you are expecting dental insurance to pay over the next twelve months, the patient may call your office concerned about the account balance. By not sending statements to these accounts, you can avoid confusion. 

Tracking Allowed Amounts

The option to enter allowed amounts is an exciting new feature in Dentrix G7.5. 

You’ll find the allowed amounts in the same window as the payment table within the Dental Insurance Benefits and Coverage window. Within the payment table there are two columns: the Paid column should contain the amount the insurance company actually paid for a procedure, and the Allowed column should contain the insurance company’s allowed fee for a procedure. 

For example, if your office fee for a two-surface posterior filling  is $300, but the insurance company’s allowable amount is $200, and the insurance company will pay 80% of their allowable amount, you would enter $160 in the Paid column of the payment table and $200 in the Allowed column. 


Paid amounts entered in the payment table are taken into account when calculating patient estimates. For example, when you create a treatment plan for that procedure code for a patient covered under the insurance plan, the payment table Paid amount of $160 will be calculated into the estimate, therefore calculating the patient portion accurately as well.  However, amounts entered in the Allowed column are NOT included in insurance estimates but are for reference only.

You can update the payment table, including allowable amounts, through the Dental Insurance Benefits and Coverage window (see image above) or when you’re posting insurance payments (see image below).

Calculating Write-Off Amounts

In Dentrix G7.5 you also have the option to change how Dentrix will calculate default write-off adjustments. It can adjust off the difference between either the paid amount and the procedure amount, or the procedure amount and the allowed amount. This will be very beneficial for offices that prefer to post their office fee to the patient’s Ledger and then make insurance adjustments. You can choose which way adjustments should work in the Ledger by clicking File > Insurance Payment Setup. Then, under Calculate default write-off amount by difference between, select the option you prefer.

Some offices prefer to handle accounts this way to track insurance write-offs and adjustments, so this new feature will be really helpful for them while posting insurance payments. 

Conclusion

The new insurance features in Dentrix G7.5 can help you to track insurance claims more easily, especially for claims paid over a period of time, like orthodontic claims. The option to exclude these types of accounts from billing statements will help to avoid patient confusion when it comes to their balance.

The option to enter insurance allowable amounts will help you to track insurance payments more accurately, and the default adjustments between procedure amounts and allowable amounts will help you to make adjustments more quickly and accurately. 

There are many more great improvements to use in Dentrix G7.5! Click here to view new feature overview videos!

Register for our new features webinar on Aug 12 to learn how to use G7.5. Click here to register.

Email 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.  

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Appointment Book Customizations to Help Maximize Production

Dentrix allows you to customize your Appointment Book to fit your practice and provider schedules. It’s important to customize the Appointment Book in the following areas, which can be found on the Setup menu in the Appointment Book:

Practice Appointment Setup 

This is where you set up the days the practice is typically open. Adjust the weekdays and times during each day the practice should be open. Be sure to include a lunch break if the office closes for lunch. You can also customize the time block size and Hover window details from within the Practice Appointment Setup dialog box.


Practice Schedule

The practice schedule calendar is where you can close the office on specific dates or holidays. You can close the office for a holiday that occurs on the same date each year, such as Christmas, using the Set Yearly Holiday on selected day feature. But that feature wouldn’t work for holidays such as Thanksgiving that change from year to year. The Close Office on selected date feature lets you pick and choose which individual dates to close. 


Provider Setup

You can customize the work schedule for each individual provider in your office. For example, you can set up a hygienist’s schedule to show that she only works 8:00 am-12:00 pm on Wednesdays even though the practice is open from 8:00 am-5:00 pm. You can also customize provider time blocks and the color of their appointments that display on the schedule.


Operatory Setup

Each operatory can be set up to have different working days and hours. For example, your administrative team may want to start scheduling in Operatory 1 beginning at 8:00 am, but not have appointments scheduled in Operatory 2 until 9:00 am. You can also customize which days of the week specific operatories are open (or closed).

Having these different areas of Dentrix set up properly is crucial for the Practice Advisor Report to be accurate. The Practice Advisor Report calculates the number of dentist and hygienist production days, the daily average production, the hourly production, and unfilled hours. It also calculates the value of those unfilled hours so you can see lost revenue based on unfilled appointments. 

In Dentrix G7.5, there’s a new option to open a day that’s usually closed in Dentrix. This will be very helpful for offices that are open every other Wednesday or one Friday a month, for example. When opening a day that’s usually closed in the schedule calendar for the practice, you also have the option to update the operatory schedules and update the provider schedules right from that screen. Updating the operatory and provider schedule helps ensure that the Practice Advisor Report can provide you with accurate data. 

It’s important to evaluate daily and hourly production in the Practice Advisor Report to make sure you’re maximizing your practice production. Are there areas where you could increase the practice production by doing things like taking X-rays on a more frequent time schedule, or offering elective procedures such as teeth whitening? 

Unfilled hours and lost revenue are important to evaluate because unfilled hours are time you have a provider available but are not generating production. Evaluating this information can help you to determine if your administrative team is scheduling efficiently or if appointment no-shows or cancelations are causing your practice to lose money. 

For more information about other new features in Dentrix G7.5, click HERE.  Register for our new features webinar on Aug 12 to learn how to use G7.5. Click here to register.

Email me if you have questions about setting up days and hours in Dentrix 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, July 15, 2021

Improvements to the Reports and Tasks Scheduler

One of the common questions among Dentrix users is, “How do I close out the month?” The Task Scheduler, which was introduced in Dentrix G6.5, helped to automate routine end-of-month tasks by breaking down the details of the month-end process. This gave practices the ability to pick and choose which processes they wanted to run. 

The most common tasks performed when closing out the month are:
  • Close Transactions - When you close transactions, completed procedures, payments, and adjustments can no longer be edited or deleted. Transactions are locked down and cannot be changed, which protects your practice. This process also causes patient account balances to age, and updates month-to-date and year-to-date production and collection numbers. 
  • Move Perio Exams to History - Performing this task ensures that perio exams can’t be changed or deleted.
  • Move Clinical Notes to History - This process locks clinical notes so that they can’t be changed or deleted. 
  • Reset Insurance Benefits - By resetting insurance benefits, insurance maximums and deductibles will be reset at zero to begin a new insurance year for those insurance plans that renew during that month.
The Task Scheduler includes these common tasks and also many other options for tasks and reports that can be set to automatically run. For example, you can set up the Task Scheduler to have your Aging Report run on a certain date every month or select to apply finance charges on a daily basis. While this is a great feature for many offices, some offices, especially new Dentrix users, may find all the detailed options a little overwhelming. 




Now, in Dentrix G7.5, you have the option to run the common month-end process mentioned above with one simple click. This would also be a quicker, easier option if you like to run your tasks manually instead of using the automated scheduler.

In this release, more intuitive icons have been added to the Task Scheduler to make it easier to use. The icons are consistent with the new icons in the new Dental Insurance Benefits and Coverage window in Dentrix, like the pencil icon to edit and the red X to delete. This consistency will help your team to easily understand what each icon does.

There are also warnings that will alert you if reports aren’t able to run, and the warnings will remind you once a day. This is a great new feature. I’ve had offices tell me they aren’t sure if tasks and reports are running successfully, and then before they know it, three months have gone by without the month-end process.

These new features will improve the Task Scheduler to make it much more functional and easier to use. I think the one-click option to close the month will be a benefit to many offices. If you haven’t enjoyed working with the Task Scheduler yet, I encourage you to check out the new features in Dentrix G7.5. 

For more information about new features in Dentrix G7.5, click here, or register for our new features webinar on August 12th to learn more about the features in Dentrix G7.5 and prepare your team for the upgrade.

Email me and let me know your thoughts 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, July 7, 2021

Communicating Appointment-Related Details to Your Team

In a previous blog post, I’ve talked about the handoff of the patient between the clinical team and the administrative team. This is such an important process because it’s the opportune time for both the clinical and the administrative team to confirm which procedures were completed during today’s visit and indicate when the patient’s next visit should be.



There are different ways to communicate the details of the next visit. The way you decide to handle this process in your office will ultimately depend on your practice workflow. 

The details of the next visit should include information such as the order of the visits, which procedures should be completed at each visit, which provider the patient should be scheduled with, and how much time should be allocated for the procedures. It’s important that this information be readily available in case the patient isn't able to schedule the next appointment while they’re still in the office and needs to call back to schedule. 

Ideally, treatment-planned procedures would be entered into the patient’s Chart by the clinical team. Dentrix has some great tools to make this process quicker and easier for your clinical team since they have limited time with each patient. Make sure procedure buttons are customized for procedures you perform in your office and that your team knows how to use them. Using multi-codes is also a timesaver when treatment planning procedures because multi-codes can include more than one procedure code, for example a root canal, crown, crown build-up, and crown cement, and can be added to a patient’s treatment plan with a single click. The Auto-State button in the Patient Chart is sometimes overlooked but saves time by enabling you to treatment plan procedures with fewer clicks.
 
Once procedures are treatment planned by the clinical team, they can then use the Treatment Planner module to organize the treatment plan and set visits. This will make it clear to everyone in the office which procedures should be done together and in which order. 

Treatment-planned procedures can be assigned to a specific provider by making sure their provider ID is attached to the treatment-planned procedure.
 
Appointment times for procedures can vary by patient. If you have a patient who takes longer to get numb, or a particularly difficult procedure, you may want more time scheduled for that appointment. A great place to record this information would be in the procedure notes. After setting visits for treatment-planned procedures, the clinical team could enter a procedure note indicating how much time should be allocated for an appointment. For example, for a difficult crown prep, the doctor may want two hours allotted instead of the usual ninety minutes. If this information is entered in the procedure notes, it will stay with that procedure for that patient and will be easily accessible, whether they schedule while in the office or call back later. 

Some offices have their clinical team schedule the patient’s next appointment while they’re in the back office. Some offices allow the administrative team to discuss finances first, then the administrative team schedules the next appointment. In either scenario, having appointment-related details in the procedure notes would be helpful.
 
How do you communicate appointment related details within your office? Practices have developed different processes based on the workflow of the office. Email me and let me know your thoughts 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, June 30, 2021

Are You Taking Advantage of the Payment Table?

The payment table in Dentrix is a great tool for you to use to track what insurance companies actually pay for procedures. You can open the Dental Insurance Benefits and Coverage window for a patient and click the Payment Table & Allowed Amounts tab to enter a procedure code and the corresponding dollar amount paid by an insurance company for that procedure code.


Dentrix will then use this information for all patients covered under this same insurance group plan. 
I like using the payment table to track downgrades. For example, you might file a claim for a posterior composite filling, but instead of paying 80% of the composite filling fee, the insurance company downgrades the procedure and pays 80% of the fee for an amalgam filling. By entering the procedure code and the dollar amount actually paid into the payment table, Dentrix would then calculate the downgraded amount into estimates when that procedure code is used again for any patient covered under that insurance group plan. 

The payment table is also very helpful if your office is out of network with an insurance plan. So instead of paying 100% of your office fee for a prophy and exam, the insurance pays 100% of their allowable amount for those procedure codes. Once this information has been entered into the Payment Table, the patient’s portion of the procedures would be calculated accurately.
 
Procedure codes and payment amounts can be entered into the payment table through the Dental Insurance Benefits and Coverage window from the Family File or Office Manager. This is a good way to enter data into the payment table if the insurance company has provided you with payment amounts, such as when you verified a patient’s benefits and they informed you what their allowable amount is for a prophy and exam.

Another way you can update the payment table is while you are posting insurance payments. It’s easy to update the payment table by simply clicking Yes, and you can do it all without having to go into another area of Dentrix.


I like updating the payment table while posting insurance payments because I can look at the explanation of benefits and determine if I want to update the Payment Table for that insurance group plan based on why the insurance paid the way they did.

There are situations when posting an insurance payment when I do not suggest updating the payment table. Don’t update the payment table if a procedure wasn’t paid as expected due to:
  • The patient met their insurance maximum.
  • A deductible was applied to the procedure.
  • A procedure wasn’t covered due to an age limitation.
  • A procedure wasn’t covered due to a frequency limitation.
Additionally, when updating the payment table, consider if you want this payment amount to be applied to all patients covered under the group plan.

If you have updated the Payment Table for a procedure, be aware that as you present treatment estimates to other patients covered under the same insurance plan, you may need to have a conversation with them about downgrades and allowable amounts. This helps patients understand why their insurance plan isn’t paying 80% of posterior composites or 100% of a prophy and exam since your office is out of network. 

It might be a good idea to add a treatment case note to your treatment plans stating that estimates from insurance companies cannot be guaranteed and the insurance may downgrade procedures based on the patient’s coverage.

When entering paid amounts into the payment table in Dentrix, you can provide your patients with more accurate estimates and collect patient’s portions at the time of service and avoid patient balances after treatment has been completed. 

For additional information about the new Dental Insurance Benefits and Coverage window, read An Easier Way to Manage Patient Insurance Details in Dentrix Magazine.

If you have questions about the payment table, 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, June 23, 2021

A Few Thoughts on Patient Retention

Retaining patients in your dental practice is just as important as acquiring new patients. Think about all the effort you put into acquiring new patients through numerous marketing strategies and by becoming contracted with insurance companies. To maintain and grow active patient numbers, your practice also needs to be putting effort in retaining established patients. 


Here are some ideas to help you keep the patients you already have.

Pre-Schedule Future Appointments

For hygiene recall appointments, try to pre-appoint patients as much as possible. This will help to avoid them slipping through the cracks when it comes to scheduling. Even if the patient is hesitant to schedule an appointment six months in the future, reassure them that they will receive appointment reminders through phone calls, email messages, or text messages. And if the day or time isn’t convenient, they can always reschedule. I especially recommend that patients who prefer a particular time schedule in advance. Many patients want the first appointment or the last appointment of the day because it’s more convenient with their work schedule. Those appointments tend to be popular, so I always try to pre-appoint those patients. 

Have a Plan to Contact Unscheduled Continuing Care Patients 

For those patients who absolutely can’t pre-appoint their next hygiene appointment, you should have a solid system in place to follow up and make sure they get scheduled and stay on their recommended continuing care frequency. Dentrix Patient Engage has great options for continuing care reminders via text and email, which tend to be more convenient for patients than a phone call. 

Know Your Patients

Personal relationships can help patients to want to stay with the same practice. A patient might say that he never wants to see a different hygienist because he loves the way the hygienist always remembers that he loves getting his teeth cleaned with the Cavitron, and the hygienist always asks about his son who plays football. 

Of course, it’s challenging to remember all these things about your patients, but when you do, it makes them feel special. Make notes in the Patient Notes in the Family File, to help remind you of personal details about each patient. Save a patient picture in Dentrix to help you to put a face to the name of your patient. That way when the assistant goes to the waiting room to seat her patient, she can make eye contact with the patient, instead of looking around the waiting room, guessing who their patient is. The patient will feel like everyone in the office knows and cares about them. 

Perfect the Handoff

The handoff when dismissing a patient from the back office to the front desk is often where patients can get lost in the shuffle. It’s important that the clinical team communicate to the administrative team the procedures that were completed today and when the patient needs to return to the office. I like using Patient Route Slips or Patient Visit Forms for this. The procedures done at today’s visit can be noted on the Patient Route Slip or Patient Visit Form. This is helpful especially if the administrative team are on the phone or busy with another patient. The next visit information can also be noted here. When possible, the clinical team member should verbally hand the patient off, in addition to the written information. This reinforces the personal connection and emphasizes to the patient the importance of their next visit. 

For example, the hygienist could verbally handoff to the front desk by saying “Mrs. Smith is checking out for today. She’ll need to come back in six months for her continuing care, and Dr. Jones would like to see her within the next two weeks for her restorative treatment.” This will remind the patient of the need for her next appointments and create an easy transition for the administrative team to schedule those appointments. Allowing the patient to leave the office without this type of handoff can result in unscheduled treatment plans and unscheduled continuing care appointments.

These are just a few ideas to help you retain your established patients. By retaining the patients you already have, and acquiring new patients through various marketing techniques, your practice will continue to grow. Don’t lose patients by allowing them to slip through the cracks!

Email me at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com if you have questions.


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, June 9, 2021

Hiring a New Team Member

Many offices all over the country are having a difficult time finding new team members. There is a high demand for qualified dental office employees. Are you currently looking to fill an open position in your office? 


Consider posting your employment opportunity in different places for higher visibility. You may have already posted the position on an employment website like Indeed, but have you also posted on social media outlets like Facebook? Sometimes you can find new team members by posting your ad in additional places you haven’t tried before.

If you’re trying to hire an assistant or hygienist, check with your local assisting and dental hygiene schools. They may have recent graduates who are looking for employment, or they may have students who will be graduating in the near future. 

Your local supply reps can also be a great resource if you are looking for a new team member. I suggest reaching out to your Henry Schein Field Sales Consultant and let them know you’re hiring. They may have just the right person in mind that would be a good fit for your office. 

Once you’ve received some applications, schedule an interview with qualified applicants. Following the interview, if you feel they are a qualified candidate for your position, I suggest you have your other team members meet with the applicant as well. If it’s a potential new administrative employee, have them meet with your administrative team. If it’s a new assistant, have the applicant meet with your other assistants. I’ve found that new employees seem to integrate more smoothly when the rest of your team has already had a chance to spend some time with them. Also, giving your team members an opportunity to voice their opinion about potential new employees can help to create a more unified team. 

Once you’ve decided on a new hire and offered them the position, take the time to train them. Let them know what is expected of them and provide them with the tools to excel. There are many tools available to help them learn Dentrix if they are new to the software. You can start by visiting the Dentrix Resource Center. Log in with your office customer ID and ZIP code. Once logged in, you can search the Dentrix Knowledgebase or enter the Training area where you’ll find Dentrix Mastery Tracks. Register to create a personal learning account for the Dentrix Essentials course which contains videos and lessons on various topics which can teach new employees different areas of Dentrix based on their position in the office. 

At the moment, it can be challenging to find qualified applicants. Consider posting your employment opportunity in as many places as possible to reach the most potential employees. Once you begin to interview, involve the rest of your team in this important decision. When you find the right candidate, it’s very important to train them and provide them with the tools for success!

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.  

Thursday, May 27, 2021

More Dentrix G7.4 Insurance Features to be Excited About

Last week, I wrote about some of the exciting new features in Dental Insurance Benefits and Coverage in Dentrix G7.4. There’s honestly so many awesome new features, I couldn’t write about them all in just one blog post. This week, I’m going to tell you about how you can use the new Deductibles/Maximums window and (my favorite) the Exceptions window!

In Dentrix, there has always been a place to enter in patients’ maximums and deductibles. However, you’ve never had the option to customize that information, until now.

Insurance plans are constantly changing the way they consider patients’ benefits. There are plans that now consider different procedure categories under different maximums. For example, an insurance plan may have no maximum for diagnostic and preventative procedures, but will have a maximum for basic and major procedures. 

A patient could have insurance coverage that has a separate orthodontic maximum that’s not considered part of their general calendar year maximum. Plus, there could also be a separate orthodontic deductible. 

Now, in Dentrix G7.4, you have a designated place to enter that information. And best of all, you can track the maximum used and deductible met. It’s important to note that this information won’t be factored into estimates in Dentrix, and you will still need to manually enter the amounts used. And the Deductibles/Maximums window is the place to do that.

For example, let’s say a patient has a standard annual deductible of $50, and an annual maximum of $1500.  They also have a lifetime orthodontic deductible of $100 and a lifetime orthodontic maximum of $1000. It’s so exciting to now have a dedicated place to enter this information and track how much has been used. Now, when your patient comes in for a prophy and exam, fillings, and/or clear aligner, you can track those maximums used accurately. Before this new feature, offices found creative ways to track this information in places like the guarantor notes, patient notes, or insurance claim status notes, which wasn’t ideal or consistent from staff member to staff member. Now you have a single place to document that information that’s very easy to use. 


You can also document detailed plan information like frequency limitations and age limitations in the Exceptions window. I love this new feature because I always used to suggest to offices that they enter this type of information into the Insurance Plan Notes. I recommended doing that instead of simply referring to an insurance breakdown in the Document Center, because Insurance Plan Notes apply to all patients covered under that plan, so you wouldn’t have to type those notes again if it’s an existing plan in your system. The Exceptions window has made huge improvements to that process. 

Here are three of my favorite things about the new Expectations window. 

  1. You no longer have to type long sentences. There’s an easy-to-use menu to allow you to select applicable plan details, like tooth limitations (primary, permanent, anterior, posterior), age limitations, frequency limitations, downgrades, and waiting periods.  
  2. Exceptions apply to all patients covered under that plan, so once you’ve entered the information for the plan, you’re good to go!
  3. By clicking the Insert Exceptions Template button on the right side of the Exceptions window you can quickly import a template that is pre-populated with common procedures and plan details that you can easily customize. 

Team members responsible for entering exceptions in to Dentrix can simply work their way through this template and enter plan details. No more excuses for forgetting to enter the information. I’ve had a situation where the hygienist wanted to do scaling and root planing for a patient in the office, but the administrative team hadn’t entered in the information pertaining to how often the procedure could be performed, or how many quadrants could be done in a day. This promptly brought the day to a halt while the hygienist had to wait while the front desk contacted the insurance company in order to provide the patient with an accurate estimate. By using the Exceptions Template, things can’t be missed. 

The new features in the Dentrix G7.4 Dental Insurance Benefits and Coverage are so exciting because they not only help you track customized deductibles and maximums, but they also allow you to enter customized exceptions details in a designated place in Dentrix. By using these features, you can provide patients with more accurate estimates with less time contacting insurance companies because you’ll have all the information you need in one place. 

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 updated insurance features in Dentrix.

If you have questions about the new insurance features in Dentrix G7.4, 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, May 19, 2021

Some of My Favorite New Insurance Features in Dentrix

One of my favorite Dentrix G7.4 new features is the Insurance Benefits and Coverage window. I wanted to share with you what some of these new features are, and why I think they are going to make things so much easier in your office. 

First, there’s a new option to enter a web page for the insurance company. Double-click a patient’s Insurance block in the Family File to open the Insurance Information window, and click the Insurance Data button.

The reason I really like this option is because I often find myself going on the insurance website to verify coverage or check the status of a claim. By having the web page address entered and saved as part of the Primary (or Secondary) Insurance Plan Information, I don’t have to look somewhere else for it. 


Next, there’s the Insurance Plan tab within the Dental Insurance Benefits and Coverage window that provides you with specific, dedicated places to enter lots of important insurance information.


  1. You can enter the date that benefits begin for both the subscriber and the patient. The reason this information is important is because it will help you to know when any applicable waiting periods have been met.
  2. There is a field to enter when the carrier was last contacted and who in your office contacted the carrier. This is important because if you notice the last update was three years ago, you’re definitely going to want to re-check the insurance benefits and update them in Dentrix. It’s also helpful to know who in your office contacted the carrier. Sometimes you may have a team member that finds entering and understanding insurance to be challenging. If that team member updated the insurance plan, you may want to double-check her work to see if she needs some more training.
  3. You can now make note where the insurance plan has out-of-network benefits, and which providers in your office are participating and non-participating with the insurance plan. I really like this new feature for offices with more than one doctor, when one doctor is participating, and one is non-participating. In a practice I worked with recently, the father and son are both doctors in the same office. The father is on his way to retiring and working less hours. He doesn’t want to participate with any insurance plans. However, the son is just beginning to build his practice and so he’s signed contracts with several insurance plans. The option to enter in- and out-of-network benefits would be a great new feature for this office because Dentrix will now have the ability to calculate patient estimates correctly for both doctors.
  4. New appointment-related details are going to make a huge difference in your day-to-day workflow. You now have the option to enter whether there’s a waiting period, if there’s a maximum age for dependents, if there’s a missing tooth clause, and if crowns and bridges are paid on prep date or seat date. Although these details won’t be factored into estimates, a new and exciting warning system will help you to avoid scheduling appointments that conflict with the plan details. For example, if you’ve entered that an insurance carrier has a missing tooth clause and you try to schedule a bridge appointment for a patient who has this insurance, Dentrix displays a warning right in the Appointment Book, to alert you to the insurance plan details. I’m sure we can all think of dozens of times during our dental careers that this new feature would have been such a huge benefit! I think this will make a huge difference to our work lives on a daily basis!
I’m excited about all of these new features. Being able to enter an insurance carrier’s web page will save you time instead of having to look for it outside of Dentrix.

The information found under the Insurance Plan tab in the Dental Insurance Benefits and Coverage window provide you with a dedicated place to enter important plan information. The ability to enter non-participating benefits will be especially helpful for multi-doctor practices. 
And the new appointment warnings are going to make a huge difference when scheduling patients’ appointments.

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 updated insurance features in Dentrix.

Please join me again next week when we’ll take a look at the new features for maximums and deductibles, and my personal favorite, the exceptions window! If you have questions about the new insurance features in Dentrix G7.4, 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, 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.