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.


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

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  

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

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  

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

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  

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

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  

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.  

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

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