Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Making a Partial Insurance Payment vs. Splitting a Claim

In Dentrix G7.5, a new feature was added allowing you to post a partial insurance payment to a claim. With this new feature, you can post a payment to a claim without closing it, so you can still track it for future additional payments.
 
As in previous versions of Dentrix, you still have the option to split a primary claim in order to post a partial insurance payment if an insurance plan doesn’t pay for all procedures on the claim. (That way you can still track the unpaid procedures.)

Here are a couple of scenarios when I would recommend using these different features.

Making a Partial Insurance Payment

Posting a partial insurance payment is an ideal way to handle orthodontic claims in your practice. Typically, an orthodontic claim is paid by insurance with an initial down payment, then the remaining orthodontic maximum is paid over the course of the patient’s treatment. For example, if the patient has an orthodontic maximum of $1000, the insurance plan may pay an initial down payment of $500, and then the remaining $500 would be paid over the estimated course of treatment of twelve months. 


In previous versions of Dentrix, if you simply posted the initial $500 payment, the claim would be closed and would no longer appear on the Insurance Aging Report. This would mean you would lose the ability to track the claim. Also, it would appear that the entire account balance would be owed by the patient, which would be confusing for both the patient and your office team to calculate how much of the account balance the patient actually owed.  By posting a partial payment, the claim will remain open, and you can still track it on reports. Also, patient and insurance balances will still be calculated accurately. Additionally, you have the option when creating Billing Statements to skip accounts with a partially paid claim, which could help to avoid any patient confusion. 



Splitting a Primary Claim

Splitting a primary claim is another way to track unpaid or partially paid claims. I would suggest using the split claim feature if the insurance plan paid for one or more procedures on the claim, but not all procedures. For example, you may have filed a claim for a crown (D2740) and a core build up (D2950), and the insurance plan paid for the core build up but denied the crown because they are requesting additional information. In this case, you could split the primary claim, which would allow you to post the payment for the core build up, while keeping the claim for the crown open and outstanding. That way you will be able to continue to track the claim for the crown, and the patient portion of the account balance will continue to be calculated accurately. 



The new partial payment feature in Dentrix G7.5 is an exciting new feature that will help your practice handle specific situations, such as orthodontic claims. There are other situations when the split primary claim will be the appropriate tool to use. Either way, these features both give you the ability to continue to track outstanding insurance claims to be sure your office is getting paid by insurance properly. 

To learn more about the new features in Dentrix G7.5, and prepare your team for the upgrade, watch this on-demand webinar recording.


If you have questions about when or how you should use these features, 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, September 22, 2021

Using Dentrix To Track Team Member Tasks

When it comes to training your team, it's important to hold them accountable for mistakes and document areas where they need to improve. It’s also important to hold them accountable for positive things they do and the areas in which they excel.
 
In order to do this, it's important to know the team members assigned to each task in your office so you can hold them accountable, and they will know what's expected of them in their position. 
Dentrix has some features to help you track which team members are doing which tasks, so you can evaluate the way things are being done. If you find a procedure isn’t being performed properly, you have the opportunity to change the workflow to improve.

Here are some different areas of Dentrix where you can record which team member is doing a particular task in order to hold them accountable for their job responsibilities.
 

Using Passwords in Dentrix

In order to track who's doing what in your office, you must have user IDs and passwords set up in Dentrix. When you set up passwords in the Dentrix Office Manager, you can assign permissions for particular tasks. It's always a good idea to have passwords set up in your office so that team members only have access to areas of Dentrix that are pertinent to their job classification.


For example, as the office manager, there may be tasks that only you have the right to do, such as running an Audit Trail Report or setting up password permissions. Similarly, you may not want clinical team members to make any account adjustments. By allocating password permissions based on job classification, you can help to eliminate mistakes and have your team focus on those tasks that pertain to their particular position. It can also eliminate “too many cooks in the kitchen,” which makes it difficult to hold anyone accountable and know which team members are exceling and which may need more help.

Tracking Appointment Changes

Once you have user IDs and passwords set up, then you can easily see which team member scheduled an appointment, because that information is stored in the Appointment Information window. When passwords are enabled, you are able to see the team member’s user ID, letting you know who scheduled the appointment. That way, you can ask the scheduler why they allowed a particular appointment length or why they scheduled certain procedures together. 


Also, when passwords are enabled in Dentrix, you are able to track any changes made to an appointment. For example, if someone changes the appointment length, date, or time, you'll be able to see who changed it and when. Being able to track this information is helpful if you have any scheduling issues, and you can address them with the appropriate team member. Sometimes you may find that your team member simply needs more training in a particular area. Tracking who is doing what in the office gives you the ability to provide your team with the training they need. 

Documenting Patient Communication

Another area you can track is the communication you have with patients. The Office Journal is the place to make notes about communications with patients, such as phone calls about their continuing care or an outstanding treatment plan. These communication notes should be recorded in the Office Journal—even if you don’t talk to the patient and leave a message. It’s easy to review patient contacts from the Office Journal as well. 

When making an Office Journal entry, you can indicate which team member contacted the patient by selecting the appropriate user ID in the Office Journal.


You can view the Office Journal by provider or by staff member from the Office Manager. So, if your hygiene coordinator says she's working diligently to call all patients due for continuing care, you can periodically check the Office Journal to see how many phone calls she's actually making per day. This would be a great way to monitor her progress and provide incentives if needed. 

Entering Clinical Notes

For the clinical team, have your hygienists sign their clinical notes as a provider, so you’ll know which hygienist saw the patient. Doctor notes are usually written by the assistants and signed off by the doctor. The assistant can put her initials at the end of the note before the doctor signs it so that if there's a question about what was done during a patient's procedure you can know which assistant worked with that patient. For example, if the lab calls with a question about the case, you will know who to direct the question to. 



Holding your team accountable for their tasks within the office can help you to build a better, more efficient team. By monitoring their workflow, you can congratulate on jobs well done and train team members who may need help in other areas. You can use the features in Dentrix to help track who is doing particular tasks in your office. 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, September 15, 2021

Tips for Presenting Treatment Plans to Patients

How do you present treatment plans to patients in your office? Do you present them by displaying the Dentrix Treatment Planner on your computer monitor for the patient? Do you print the treatment case and present it to the patient on paper? Or do you use a combination of on-screen and printed presentations based on the situation? 

No matter which method you use, here are some tips that you can use when presenting treatment plans to patients. 

Whether you are printing the treatment case or presenting it on-screen, it’s always a good idea to arrange the treatment plan based on priority and ordering visits for procedures. It can help your treatment coordinator to have a conversation with the patient about which procedures are the priority, and the patient will be able to see their portion of each visit either on screen or on the printed treatment case so that they can be financially prepared for each visit.

Another benefit of ordering procedures by visit is that the administrative team will be able to see which visit should be scheduled next within the Appointment Information window.



Another good tip when creating treatment plans is to set the case severity. The case severity is indicated by a red, yellow, or green light icon on the treatment case in the Treatment Planner to specify whether the treatment case severity is immediate, eventual, or optional. A patient may have a treatment case for veneers, which is optional, while they have another treatment case for a root canal and crown that needs to be scheduled immediately. By setting case severity for the treatment case, your administrative team will know how urgently they need to schedule a procedure, and the patient will also see the colored light icon next to the case in the Treatment Planner as a visual reminder. 


You can also choose to include the case severity as an option when printing treatment cases, which will communicate the urgency to the patient.


You can select what type of procedure information is displayed when viewing the Treatment Planner: information such as entry date, procedure code, tooth number, and description. These options are found in the Treatment Planner’s View menu, under the Procedure Information option.



How much (or how little) information you want to display depends on your office. Some offices like to have very minimal information, while others like more.
 
Two of my favorite options to display are the Procedure Progress Notes and the Other Fee. For example, if a patient needs a replacement crown, and the insurance won’t consider any benefits due to a ten-year replacement period for crowns, I like to notate that information in the Procedure Progress Notes and then select the option to display those in the Treatment Planner. This makes it very clear to the patient exactly why they will be responsible for payment for the procedure in full. 

For treatment plans for patients who are being charged a fee schedule amount based on your office being in-network with their insurance plan, I like to display the Other Fee as the office fee along with the fee schedule procedure amount. This allows patients to see how much of a discount they are receiving by choosing your office, since you are in-network with their insurance. It can help to create value and can increase case acceptance. You can set the Other Fee to be your office fee. To do this, from the View menu, click Select Other Fee and select your office fee schedule.
 
You can also select what procedure information is displayed on printed treatment cases. When you select Print Treatment Case, select the options you want to include, and then click Select Columns for additional information to print.



An exciting new feature in Dentrix G7.5 Update 2 provides detailed information about how Dentrix is calculating insurance estimates. You’ll be able to see if the estimate involves a deductible, if the patient is reaching their insurance maximum, if the insurance payment is being calculated based on information in the payment table, and other explanations. This is an easy-to-use feature, and you can view or hide the explanations by individual procedure or for an entire treatment case. This feature will save offices lots of time by not having to research this information themselves. It is also a great tool to use when presenting treatment plans, so patients better understand why their insurance is estimated to pay a particular amount. This new information, however, will only be displayed onscreen in the Treatment Planner. 

Whether you present treatment plans to patients onscreen or printed on paper, you can use these Treatment Planner features to customize and create treatment cases that are clear and easy to understand for your patients. 

Learn More


If you have questions about the Treatment Planner or best practices for presenting treatment plans in your office, 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, September 8, 2021

Set Up Your Continuing Care System So It Works For You

The Continuing Care module in Dentrix is the tool you use to track when patients are due for recall procedures. But, for continuing care to function effectively it has to be set up properly.

Setting Things Up

First, you assign a continuing care type to a procedure code. For example, you would attach the prophy continuing care type to the D1110 and D1120 procedure codes. Then, when a patient has one of those procedure codes posted as complete, Dentrix will track when that patient is due for their next prophy, and you can generate continuing care reports to see which patients are due and contact them.
 
Once you’ve designated which procedures are assigned to each continuing care type, you can customize those types to track different procedures a patient may be due for. Some offices track when periodontal charting is done so they can be sure it’s done on a regular schedule. Some offices track that their orthodontic patients are due to come in for an adjustment every six weeks. In the examples I gave, you would first create a custom procedure code for the procedure, then create a continuing care type and attach it to that custom procedure code. When creating office codes like for periodontal charting, I suggest using something that has never and will never be an American Dental Association procedure code, so don’t start the procedure code with the letter “D”. You can use Dentrix Continuing Care to track lots of different procedures in your office.

You will want to make sure that you don’t use different continuing care types for the same procedure code because a procedure code can only be attached to one continuing care type. For example, some offices create a three-month, a four-month, and a six-month prophy continuing care type. Since the prophy procedure code (D1110 or D1120) can only be attached to a single continuing care type, the others aren’t tracking anything. It’s best to have one continuing care type for a procedure code and then adjust the patient’s frequency for the procedure in their continuing care in the Family File. 

Generating Views and Lists

When you generate a continuing care list to see which patients are due, you can customize the view to filter and provide you with a list of patients that fit your selected parameters. You can customize continuing care views in the Appointment Book, or in the Office Manager. Keep the following three items in mind when generating a continuing care list:


  1. Give the continuing care view a descriptive name, then select the continuing care type you want to view to focus on. When creating continuing care views, I suggest you create and save one that focuses on prophy and one that focuses on periodontal maintenance. If a patient is due for periodontal charting, or bitewing X-rays, you would generally just do those procedures in combination with the prophy or periodontal maintenance.
  2. One important filter to consider when creating a continuing care view is the Sched. Appt? filter. If you’re generating a continuing care view to contact patients who are due for a procedure, I suggest selecting Only WITHOUT under this filter because there would be no need to contact the patients that already have an appointment.
  3. You have the option to change the sort order of the list of patients. I recommend that you sort by family first, then by patient. The reason for this is that patients from the same family will be grouped together. So, if Jane, the mother of the family, is due on September 10th, and her son John is due on September 29th, they will be together on the continuing care list, and you will only have to contact that family once for both patients.
For more information about other filters, see the Continuing Care List View Options topic in Dentrix Help.

Dentrix continuing care is a great way to track when procedures are due, as well as when they have been completed. You can customize continuing care types to track procedures in your office and ensure patients are having all procedures they’re due for. If you have questions about continuing care, you can 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, September 1, 2021

Let Your Marketing Goals Determine the Best Type of Campaign for Your Practice

What are your practice marketing goals for the remainder of 2021? The goals you are trying to achieve determine the marketing techniques that will work best in attracting patients to your office. Let’s take a look at three common goals practices have, and what you can do to achieve them.



Boost New Patient Numbers

If your goal is to attract more new patients, you may want to consider a new patient special for uninsured patients, which provides a discount for their first visit. Or you may want to consider becoming contracted with an insurance company which is offered to a large number of employees in your area, providing that the fee schedule is competitive and acceptable to your practice.

Increase Higher Production Cases

If your goal is to have more patients with high production cases, you may want to target patients who show interest in cosmetic dentistry. You could add some questions to your patient questionnaire to find out who may be interested, such as, “Do you like the way your teeth look?” and “What would you change?” If a patient answers that they would like their teeth to be whiter, you could discuss teeth whitening options. Or if they answer they would like their teeth to be straighter, you could discuss orthodontics. 

Expand Patient Demographics

If you are trying to gain more patients from different demographics, such as additional patients from a particular ZIP code, you could purchase an advertisement, like a banner, for a local youth sports team. That would give your practice name recognition in the neighborhood, so when potential patients think about which dentist to see, your office will come to mind.

If you want to target a specific age group, such as school-aged children, you could focus on school presentations for Dental Health Month to help teach children good oral hygiene techniques. Send the children home with your practice business card and maybe a toothbrush with your office name and logo. When the children are excited about the dental office school visit, it may prompt the parent to make an appointment at your office.
 
Once you have focused your practice marketing strategies, it’s important to track referral sources in Dentrix to see which campaigns have been successful. A successful marketing campaign that attracts patients to your office may be worth repeating in the future.
 
You can require that a referral source is selected when adding a new patient in Dentrix. This will ensure all new patient referrals are tracked and eliminates the possibility of forgetting to add a referral source. 

Generate referral reports monthly so that you can evaluate which marketing campaigns have been most successful for your practice.
 
Before investing in a marketing campaign, consider what you are trying to achieve. Are you trying to boost your monthly new patient numbers? Do you want to do more cosmetic and orthodontic cases? Or are you trying to attract a particular demographic, like a specific age group, to your office? Your marketing goals will determine the best type of campaign for your practice.

If you have questions about marketing and referrals, 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.