Dentrix Training: How to Set up a New Patient with Insurance
It’s easy to fall into the trap of “We’ve always done it this way.” Especially when it comes to setting up new patients. Since Dentrix offers a simple New Patient window – many practices just follow the software and ask only a few basic questions and schedule the new patient using the new patient approach.
The problem occurs when the patient has dental insurance – and if you don’t gather the insurance information in advance, then you are forced to verify the insurance benefits once the patient has arrived. Now, you’re in an urgent situation. Your dentist and clinical team are waiting to find out what x-rays they can take, how much is left in remaining benefits – and if substantial treatment is needed, what waiting periods or specific code limitations exist.
Urgent Vs. Important
For busy dental office managers, handling dental insurance appropriately is a matter of time management. Take a look at the image that shows Urgent vs. Important tasks. You can see that some tasks are high and low urgency – while others are high and low importance. Thinking about how to run a dental practice, you need to identify which box your tasks fall into. It’s easy to fall prey to always working on the high urgency tasks – whether they are important or not.
The better you are at time management, the more you are focusing on the important tasks – even when they are not urgent. Dental office managers that follow up regularly on outstanding treatment, accounts receivable and outstanding claims are working in the high importance, low urgency box. Managers that seem to never have time to send statements or call patients with overdue balances may be spending all their time on urgent tasks, even though many of these are not nearly as valuable to the practice.
So, where does verifying dental insurance fall in these boxes?
If you wait until your patient arrives and hands you their dental insurance card – then this task falls into high urgency and high importance. However, instead of working on your patient’s schedule – why not manage your own time? To move this task into the high importance, low urgency box – simply create the patient’s account when they call to schedule and ask enough information to verify benefits before their appointment. If you schedule them even a few days out (and most offices seem to schedule new clients about two weeks out) – now you are in control of when (and who!) will verify the benefits.
Think It Through
Often, when I coach offices to change this process, I hear a variety of concerns:
- But some new patients don’t show up for their first visit – What will we do then?
- Doesn’t this waste space in the computer if we document patients that do not show up?
- What if we have to scroll past new patients that never come in – won’t that make our computer searches slower?
As with any change, you have to think through the pros and cons of “the way we’ve always done it” vs. the new approach. If you’re concerned about wasted space on your computer, ask your IT person what they think. Talk through how you will handle new patients that do not show up. And think about how you can take back control of your day when you don’t have to wait for your new patients to show up in order to verify their insurance.
If you like systems . . .
If you like the concept of urgent vs. important and appreciate having systems in place to run your dental practice smoothly, you may be interested in my collections system. This set of written instructions walks you through exactly which Dentrix reports to run and how to follow up on overdue balances as well as outstanding claims in order keep your accounts receivable under control. Click here to learn more:
Subscribe for more Ideas
Managing your time 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 18+ years of dental practice management experience, I’m open to your questions to help you run a successful dental office.
Cheers to Olivergearing.com for the Urgent/Important matrix image.