The dental practice I worked in for 18 years offered both straight wire and Invisalign orthodontics, which accounted for about 25% of our total production. This is a sizable amount for a general practice, and this also meant that most of our patients were both ortho patients and general dental patients. This brought many challenges with insurance benefits, A/R and appointment management. Dentrix was not designed for an ortho practice. However, with a few tips, you can create a system that works for you.
Dealing with insurance maximums and A/R
The first thing I had to figure out was how to deal with the fact that most ortho benefits are a separate benefit only offering a lifetime maximum. With how the Dentrix insurance module is designed, there was not a way to manage both a yearly max and a lifetime max. I had to put on my thinking cap. The next thing I had to figure out was the fact that most of our ortho patients were on a payment plan which was wreaking havoc on my accounts receivable. Our patients would make a down payment, make monthly payments for 12-24 months and I would manage their insurance payments. My thinking cap is now working overtime.
What are your ortho statistics?
Finally, with me being a numbers geek, I wanted to have the ability to generate reports and statistical information on my ortho revenue and my general practice. How in the world was I going to be able to make all this happen and not drive myself crazy? After plenty of trial and error, I figured out what I believed were the best options.
When I talk to an office about managing ortho patients, it seems like a lot of work. However, when you think about the end result, it makes a lot of sense. If you want a copy of my tip sheet, please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is my list of best practices and the tip sheet will go over this list in much more detail.
- The best way to handle all the scenarios above is to create a separate family file for your ortho patient. In my practice, I entered the name all in CAPS which was a good visual for my team. If you already use CAPS in your practice, you can think of something else that is creative. This family file would also be a non-patient, so it does not skew your active patient numbers. The exception here is if you are going to use the Dentrix Continuing Care system for tracking the ortho recare.
- Create a separate Billing Type for Ortho so you can generate separate billing statements, reports and other statistical information for your ortho side of the practice. Add this billing type to your ortho patient family file.
- Now that you have a clean ledger for your ortho patient, you can create Future Due Payment Plans and Payment Agreements for the ortho contract. This is what will help your accounts receivable stay in line and not show an inflated over 90 day past due balance. Also, when you are using a separate billing type for your ortho patients, you can hide your ortho balances from the collection manager report and billing statements. You can also use the collection manager report for managing your Future Due Payment Plans and the Payment Agreements.
When the ortho treatment is finished, you can choose to Inactivate the patient or archive the account. Make sure to document somewhere in the patient’s general account that there is an ortho account and, if there is a chart number, write that down. My recommendation would be in the Patient Note on the general account.
I hope this helps and you are able to better manage your patients who come to your office for both general dentistry and orthodontics.