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.