CSI Investigation using Dental Practice Management Software

CSI Investigation using Dental Practice Management Software

Are you a CSI fan? Las Vegas, New York, Miami – whatever your culture, there’s a CSI investigation TV show to fit your style. One of my favorite things about dental practice management is knowing Dentrix well enough to run my own CSI investigations!

Now, I’m not investigating a murder (of course!) and I’m not even investigating embezzlement – but I do want to find clues about how the office is running based on evidence. The reason is simple, if you ask anyone on your staffAgent Brett Ellis and K-9 Pippa with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, “How are we doing with collecting money?” Or “How are we doing at getting patients scheduled?” Your staff will give you a positive answer. They don’t want to get into trouble or admit they have no idea, so generally they tell you a story about the effort they’re putting into the task – and often, you end up distracted, thinking you’ve received an answer and you move on to check the next patient.

Instead, run your own CSI investigation!

Here’s how:

Find out if you’re documenting new patient referral sources

In Dentrix – Use the Office Manager / Letters program to run a search for all patients with a first visit for last month, in the data fields tab, select the Patient name, First visit date and the Referral source last name/first name.  Now, when you select merge only and pull this report into Excel, you can see a list of all your new patients that month – and you can see how many blanks exist under the Referral source.

No need to ask if your staff is documenting referral sources- just run this report each month and you can see for yourself! Plus, then you can give this report to your staff and ask them to fill in the blanks.

Find out how your collections are being handled

In Dentrix – Run the Provider AR Totals report to see your collection %. You also can run your Aging Report and the Insurance Aging Report – look on the last page for the breakdown of Current, Over 30 days, Over 60 days and Over 90 days outstanding.

Again, in just a few minutes you will know exactly how your office is doing with collections. And, when you run this report and give it to your office manager – she knows that following up on this and increasing collections is important to you.

Find out if your hygienists are productive enough

In Dentrix –Run the Practice Analysis reports – Production Summary, Payment Summary and Adjustment Summary for each of your hygienists. Once you subtract off the adjustments related to insurance or discounts from the hygienists production that month, you have a more realistic production number. Now, compare how much your hygienist was paid to what she produced – is it 1/3rd? This is her goal.

There are dozens more CSI investigations you can run using your Dentrix dental practice management system – and the more you understand what you can find using your software, the more you will know about your practice. If you’d like a hand with running these reports, check out this link. Don’t just ask your dental office manager to tell you about the business-side of your practice. Instead, set up a series of reports that you want to see that will answer the question “How are things going?”.

For dental office managers, help your dentists to understand more about the challenges you’re facing in running the office. If you simply tell the dentist you’re struggling with collections or you don’t have time to accomplish the insurance follow up – the dentist may simply believe that you are not up for the job. However, if you run certain reports every end of month to see how the practice is performing in a variety of areas – then you and the dentist will stay on the same page and when you’re having a problem, you’ve given the dentist a way to support you.

Running reports to know your numbers is just one way to run a successful dental practice. If you’re interested in new ideas on running a dental practice, please subscribe to my weekly blog. One of the biggest challenges to managing a dental practice is managing dental insurance. With dental insurance handled, then dental marketing for new patients becomes a primary focus. In today’s day of online reviews, handling patient complaints well is essential. As your practice grows, hiring dental staff becomes more important. With 16+ years of dental practice management experience, I’m open to your questions to help you run a successful dental office.

Feel free to email me.

AUTHOR: Jill Nesbitt
  • C. Smith dds

    I’v used dentrix for over 10 years and the reports you discussed are invaluable in managing my practice. I wonder how good other software systems are in providing these reports?

    July 10, 2014
  • How can I find out what percentage of our office is insurance patients? I would also like to break down what percentage of that is Metlife, Delta, etc. I’ve played with the reports in Dentrix but can’t find a way to find that information.

    December 12, 2014
    • Ramona,

      Thanks for your question. I would recommend running a report through letters to customize exactly what you want to know. Office manager, letters then select the criteria for your active patients, I generally say that an active patient is one with a last visit date within the last 2 years – so set up your criteria for last visit date of the last 2 years then go into your data fields to select primary insurance All to All. You can also checkmark lots of info here – names, first & last visit date, the insurance company, referral source, balance, etc.

      Anyway, this report will show you your active patients and you can paste it into excel and sort by the insurance column to total your insurance patients and your total patients – and then you can calculate your percentage.

      If you need a hand with this, please email me at!

      Thanks again for asking!


      December 12, 2014