There are six separate areas that the doctor and staff will need to understand in order to use practice management software well. These are:
- General use of the software: This would include how to open it, how to find a patient, how to find a specific procedure or appointment.
- Charting: That is entering treatment, creating treatment plans and entering procedure notes. Charting also includes linking to diagnostic aids like radiographs, photos and perio pocket charting.
- Finance: This would include making an estimate, Creating and sending insurance claims. Billing. Entering payments.
- Scheduling: Creating new appointments, finding existing appointments.
- Communications: Maintaining patient contact and insurance information. Sending correspondence, insurance, re-call and confirmations.
- Administration: Compiling numbers running reports and maintaining security.
Each person in the office should have a general understanding of the entire system. However each person will have special areas he/she needs to master.
Dentist: The dentist needs to concentrate on items 1,2 and 4. He/she must be able to launch the software, find a patient record or appointment and to enter treatment if needed. However the doctor’s primary duty is to maintain the dental record and to manage the practice. For that reason the dentist needs to be able to find a specific procedure in the patient chart then retrieve and edit existing procedure notes or enter new notes. The dentist needs to be able to run financial reports, understand what they mean and create custom reports. The dentist also needs to understand and administer the security features of the software such as passwords.
Assistant: The clinical dental assistant should concentrate on items 1 and 2. The assistant needs to be able to launch the software, find a patient record or appointment and to enter treatment. The chairside assistant must also know how to find an image, either a photo or an x-ray, specific to a procedure and then display it for the dentist to refer to during treatment. The assistant is primarily responsible for chart entries therefore he/she needs to know how to enter treatment. That includes existing treatment, planned treatment and completed treatment. The assistant will also need to know how to enter and edit procedure notes. More advanced practices may also want the assistant to learn item 4 and schedule from the treatment rooms.
Hygienist: The dental hygienist has four items to learn, 1,2,3 and 5. He/she will need to know how to launch the software and find a patient record. But beyond that he/she will need to know how to chart treatment that the dentist prescribes in the hygiene room as well as any treatment he/she does. The hygienist must know how to set up continuing care procedures, schedule appointments for recall and how to use the patient data to communicate with recall information either through postcards or e-mail.
Administrator: The front desk business administrator needs to know everything. The only item they can routinely leave to others is number 2 charting. The administrator’s primary duty will be item 3 finance. They are the only team member with responsibility in this area. They will need to know how to create a treatment plan and an estimate, how to determine insurance benefits, how to submit claims and how to manage the patient ledger.
The administrator has primary responsibility for the schedule. The administrator will need to know use the system to communicate. This means correspondence, re-care, insurance claims and appointment reminders. Finally the administrator will have shared responsibility with the dentist for creating financial reports.