Guide to “Going Paperless”


2016 is the year to “Go Paperless”

Stop putting it off, going paperless can save you tens of thousands of dollars. Make it your goal – paperless in 2016.

My comprehensive technology guide, “How to go paperless in the dental office” will answer the basic question…Why bother?  It then provides step by step help in setting up a paperless office, including the eight essentials that need to be in place before you get started, four ways to digitize stuff, and front deskless workflow. There is even a budget and financial analysis that shows how your current paper system is costing you over $40,000!

“How to go paperless in the dental office” will answer all your questions, provide a plan and show you how to save money… all delivered in a fun and easy to understand style.

Follow the link to order your copy today.



Very Large Dental Practices Seeing Significant Growth in Market Share

ADAFrom the ADA Health Policy Institute:

Key Messages

  • From 2002 to 2012, market share increased for dental firms with 20 employees or more, while dental firms with fewer than five employees experienced a decline in market share.

  • During the same period, very large dental firms – those with 500 employees or more – also saw increases in number of establishments, number of employees and annual receipts.

  • Market penetration of very large firms varies by state, from a low of none in seven states to a high of seven percent of the Florida market.

This is one of those “yes – but” items. One which has many people in a near panic. I have read a number of essays by concerned dentists lamenting the growth of corporate dentistry and how it will destroy the integrity of the profession. That might be true, But:

Large practices may be the fastest growing segment but that is in large part because it started out as such a tiny segment and despite the growth it is still tiny.

Small offices with zero to 19 employees make up 92% of US dental practices. That means only 8% are medium to large. As the data suggests there is a trend- ten years ago small offices (under 20 employees) made up 94% of practices. There has been a 2% drop. Never the less that is hardly a major change in the nature of practice let alone a take over by corporate dentistry.

Look above at the last of the key messages from the article. At most large practices have 7% of the market and in many states they have none.

Dental Speaker Paperless

Expert Business Strategies

From the ADA “Expert Business Strategies”


I contributed a chapter on Paperless Records. I am honored to be included along with Sally McKenzie, Cathy Jameson, Rita Zamora, Roger Levin and others.



Top 10 Note Spots in Dentrix


More good advice from Dayna Johnson the Dentrix Office manager:

Top 10 Note Spots in Dentrix

via  The Dentrix Office Manager: Top 10 Note Spots in Dentrix.

Dentrix has multiple note sections for finances, appointments, insurance, statements and more. Some offices want to have all the notes in one place. I understand the thought however it is much more effective to have the notes in the section where they are relevant. If you are concerned about a patient’s drug responses you do not want to wade through notes regarding insurance coverage or their last vacation looking for what you need.

Dayna does a nice job of describing the top ten note sections, where they are and how best to use them.

Paperless Software

Paperless Process

Dayna-Johnson-headshot-black-new---webFrom Dayna Johnson:

One of the biggest complaints I hear from clinicians is, “I don’t have time to enter all that stuff in the computer and I am not going to stay late.” My response is, “I don’t want you to stay late. You have a family to get home to and that is why we are going to create systems that are as efficient as possible so you can get out on time.” Efficiency saves time, money, and your sanity. No matter what practice management software or imaging software is installed, you can create efficient solutions to help the front office team and the clinical team.

Full Article

 I have been a huge advocate for electronic (paperless) dental records for years. The linked article from Dentrix goddess Dayna Johnson outlines issues she has encountered helping offices “go paperless”. She makes the point that there is no clear single path or standard for e-records. On the other hand she outlines three core components; Efficiency, Consistency and Security.

However I was struck by the bit quoted above. I also have encountered numerous dentists and dental team members who find any number of excuses to avoid getting started. The too busy one is classic. What they are saying is that I can’t devote two or three hours today to set this up in order to save an hour a day every day for the rest of my practice life.

Of course resistance to change has very little to do with logic and everything to do with uncertainty.

Help Going Paperless

Internet Software

Dentrix Ascend and the Natural User Interface

The sneak peek demo I got of Dentrix Ascend at the Chicago Midwinter confirmed one of my favorite high tech adages, ”A car is not just a faster horse.”

When we first create a digital version of a traditional analog paper system we invariably attempt to duplicate the paper system in a digital format. In other words we are just looking for a faster horse. However once we begin to understand the power and increased usability of digital systems we re-create the paper system completely.

Digital patient records are a prime example of this process. PMS (Practice Management Systems) like Dentrix, Eaglesoft and all the rest created digital charts that were exact copies of the paper forms we had used for so many years. The forms were arranged in the e-chart just like the pages of a paper chart. In fact some products even used an image of a traditional dental office to guide us to each module.

However once we understand how digital systems work we can recreate the chart based not on the old limited paper model but on the actual workflow of a dental office. Dentrix calls this a Natural User Interface.

For example when a person was making an appointment, the traditional paper system we used was an appointment book; and all the PMS systems recreated the books right down to the ring bindings.

However when making an appointment it would be useful for the scheduler to know if there are medical issues or if the patient has an outstanding balance. With the paper system we would have to run for the chart, flip through to the medical section then scramble for a ledger to check the balance. Actually that is just too awkward so we actually don’t run and scramble.

A digital system has the medical and financial stuff segregated to various digital modules and we have to drop down, click and scroll to find it.

A Natural User Interface recognizes how we actually work or should work if the system allowed it and presents the scheduler not with a digital book but with easy links to the functions and data we need to do the job.

Management Software

Dentrix Appointment Book

Coaching tip from Dentrix:

What does your appointment book look like? Is it easy to see your hygienist’s next opening? Can you quickly see when your dentist has a half hour available to fit in an emergency exam?

Most dentists never change the appointment book view from the day they install their dental practice management software.

via Increase efficiency with your dental practice management software.

Management Software

Another Dentrix Tip

From Jason McKnight:

There is a list of all the reports that Dentrix can produce online at the Resource Center.

The resource outlines all the reports that are available, how you might use them and what information they are designed to provide. Many of the reports can be customized to give you very specific information.

Another quick tip from Jason, always use the print preview feature. There are three reasons for this:

  1. You may have set it up incorrectly and are not getting what you expected.
  2. If you just need a small part of the report you can just find it without printing the whole thing.
  3. If you asked for a lot of information over a long period of time the report may be a bit unwieldy. Better to find out it is 240 pages before hitting the print button.
Management Software

Dentrix User Tips, Treatment Plans

At the Dentrix Business of Dentistry Conference:

Some good treatment planning ideas and tips for Dentrix users from Dayna Johnson.

Dentrix has a complete system that allows users to set up alternative plans, such as an implant, a fixed bridge or a removable partial for the replacement of missing teeth and then link these plans together.

If you just create the various plans but do not link them you will clutter the system with lots of proposed treatment that will never be completed. This makes reviewing your cases difficult, planning and scheduling takes more time as the scheduler needs to wade through the alternatives and many of your management reports are less useful.

To fix this some offices just delete the alternatives. This Dayna says is a big mistake. If you delete the alternative plans you lose the medical/legal documentation that you offered alternative treatment choices and if the patient returns and decides to go ahead with the treatment you will need to recreate the entire treatment plan again.

The better way to do it is to create and name alternative plans and place the appropriate treatment in its own plan and then link them. Dentrix makes this easy with an icon that actually looks like a little chain link. When the patient chooses the plan thy want it can be marked as accepted and the alternatives as rejected.

Do not delete the rejected linked alternative plans.

Dayna suggested the office assign the task of entering and organizing the treatment plans to a specific person; perhaps a treatment coordinator. Organizing and presenting alternatives is not a casual job that a front desk person should be expected to toss off in a moment while a patient is waiting at the desk.

On the other hand if it is done properly by someone trained with the system it can be done quickly and will provide you with very valuable information and documentation.


Dentrix G5

Dentrix G5 is the latest version of the Dentrix practice management software. It includes several new software features and enhancements, including the following:

  • A true client-server database architecture: This architecture adds additional stability and efficiency to the software because the server rather than the workstations now performs the work of retrieving and writing data to and from the database.
  • Electronic EOBs: You can now receive and post electronic insurance payment information to the Dentrix database using an electronic Explanation of Benefits (eEOB) or Electronic Remittance Advice (ERA). The Batch Insurance Payment Entry dialog box has been modified so you can easily enter check insurance payments and review, edit, and post electronic insurance payments from the same location.
  • Claim attachment requirement notifications: Those who use eClaims will be notified when they submit a claim if the payor requires a claim attachment for specific procedures if the attachment is missing.
  • A new Screen Capture feature: This new feature allows you to select an area of the screen, capture it, and automatically attach the image to an insurance claim, then save the image in the Document Center.
  • Report monitoring for improved security: Monitoring when someone previews or prints Day Sheet and Audit Trail reports is easier now. Each type of report has its own record in the Dentrix database and its own series of sequential audit numbers so that you can track each report type individually. 

Dental Software – Dentrix.

Management Software

New Product YAPI

There is a new technology product I am very excited about that will be introduced at the Townie Meeting May 4-7 in Las Vegas. It is called YAPI.

At first glance YAPI looks like an in office computer intercom system. However when you look at the details it offers a lot more. YAPI was developed by a busy tech savvy dentist who wanted to improve efficiency and use technology more effectively. She observed the speed bumps in her office and then tried to figure out a way that technology could be used to smooth out the bumps.

In a nutshell YAPI digitally follows a patient through an office visit. It starts by checking them in at the front desk. Then it follows them to the treatment room. Then back to the front to check out. Along the way the office team is alerted as the where the patient is, how long he or she has been there and when the room needs to be cleaned or is ready for another patient.

YAPI also provides reminders. That is do we need to collect an e-mail address from this person or update the medical history on that one. It provides a system to attach information to the patient visit for future processing. Such as; a check out note, post-operative instructions, Care Call or reminders for future treatment. You can think of YAPI as a digital routing slip.

There is more. YAPI both gathers information and extracts it from your practice management system, like Dentrix or Eaglesoft. As a result one of YAPI’s features, I think is unique and very valuable, is that YAPI will provide all the information you need to manage a virtual daily huddle.

There is a lot more to YAPI like “Seeds” and “Idle-Screen”. These are very powerful marketing tools I will write more about in the future.

One last thought. Since YAPI is digital it allows us to do our work differently – virtually. For example the daily huddle that YAPI facilitates. Team members can attend in person or virtually from another location. They can even re-play the meeting if they are forced to arrive late after the meeting has been completed.

Internet Management

Practice Activator

Another online service. This one grabs your patient data and re-activates non responsive or idle patients.

Of course this or any other online service only works with digital data. That is you need to be charting, and treatment planning with the computer. Not to mention scheduling and re-call. If the computer does not have a treatment plan entered then it can not figure out which patients have diagnosed but incomplete treatment.

If you do have the data you can run this same type of process using any good dental practice management system like Dentrix. On the other hand using a web based service takes that work and out sources it leaving more time for staff to concentrate on clinical delivery of services.

Practice Activator: Patient reactivation and recall for dentists.