How to manage staffing in Dentrix Ascend

Dentrix Ascend

How to manage staffing in Dentrix Ascend

On the business side of dentistry, we all know that if we get the staff compensation into the right balance, the practice generally performs well financially. Unfortunately, that can be a big “if”.  For Dentrix Ascend users, there are several features you can use to help you streamline your schedule and measure your performance.

Features in Dentrix Ascend to manage staffing:

  • Use the Schedule Event feature to set up ‘top down / bottom up’ blocks
  • Use the Patient Communication Setup to send automatic emails to patients with broken appointments
  • Train your team to track net production on the day sheet
  • Use the digital route slip to identify where your team falls off schedule

Let’s look at each one of these features:

Top down/ bottom up blocks

Use the Schedule Event blocks to set priority for filling the schedule. If your hygienist ends up with holes throughout her day, then you need to determine if these are due to the schedule not being full in advance and/or broken appointments. If the schedule just isn’t full enough to justify her hours, then you can create blocks to encourage your team to schedule either a morning or afternoon time before you open the rest of the day.

Here is how this looks in practice:


Dentrix Ascend block

As your team schedules appointments they will continue to shrink the block. This ensures that if some of they hygienists time is not scheduled, the open time is pushed to the beginning or end of the day. This allows your hygienist to simply come in a bit later or leave early, which helps to keep your staffing cost balanced with the number of patients in the schedule.

Broken appointment system

Using the Patient Communication Setup, you can create emails that goes out to patients automatically after the appointment status changes to “broken”.  I have this set to send out one hour after the status is updated, to leave time for us to call the patients to save the appointment if possible.

Also, you can use the letters feature to merge a letter to the patient to communicate what happened and if this is a chronic problem, you can apply a fee and send a statement as well.

I also recommend creating a medical alert for No Show that will pop up for patients who have failed multiple appointments. This allows your team to know who they are dealing with as soon as they search the patient in the Dentrix Ascend software.

Net Production on Day Sheet

Talk with your hygienist so she knows that you expect her to produce three times her compensation. Once you set the per day production goal based on this guideline, then show her how to check the day sheet and look for her net production. I am a big fan of how Dentrix Ascend handles the insurance adjustments and this software setup makes it easy for staff to see real numbers (which are always net production in my opinion).

Your hygienist can either choose to run the day sheet just for her as a provider or she can run it for the office, and that still shows each individual provider. If you are giving your hygienists goals, its probably safe to bet you’re setting a daily production goal for the entire office as well. If so, then I like running the day sheet for the office and then just clicking on the individual provider. Now, your hygienist can quickly see if she hit her goal for that day or not.

Digital route slips

If your team is struggling with running behind, then you can use the digital route slip to identify the problems so you can solve them. By making sure your team changes the status from here to ready to chair to completed, you can see the amount of time spent at each step and see where things fall apart. Unfortunately, there isn’t a report to show you this in full, but this could be a good discussion for your hygienist team who can dig into her day to find out how the flow went.


Running a successful dental practice requires that you achieve the proper balance between production/collection and staff compensation. These ideas of using blocks, establishing communication with patients who break appointments, coaching your team to look at net production in the day sheet and using digital route slips to track patient flow through the practice will help you to achieve this balance.

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If you’re using Dentrix Ascend and would like training on how the insurance estimates are calculated:

Ascend Insurance Training

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If you’re managing a dental practice and want organized systems for easier dental staff training, then check out my Collections System and how to Set Up a Recall System. Once these internal systems are in place, you may want to focus on marketing with a system for New Patient Referral Tracking and handling patient complaints.

And, if you’re interested in a comprehensive approach to run your dental practice and train your team, visit Dental Staff Training Levels.

AUTHOR: Jill Nesbitt
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