Paperless Software

Number One Paperless Mistake

The biggest mistake dentists make with digital charting is they only go part way. For example: They use a paper chart in the treatment room during diagnosis to mark future treatment. Then they take the paper chart to the computer and enter everything again. They will use the computer to create an estimate, insurance forms and schedule. Then they will go back to the paper chart to enter procedure notes, back to the computer to take a payment, back to paper for a prescription, back to the computer for the next appointment then back to paper to check the x-rays.

What the office ends up with is a mess. Everything is done at least twice, the paper chart is still needed no one is ever sure if something is on paper or in the computer. As a result the computer chart doesn’t save time and money it makes things worse.

Once you have the process in place:

Stop Making Paper!


General Paperless

“Good” Charting Software

dentrix screenGood charting software has many features. One of the most important is that it eliminates all paper. That means the software must accommodate all the bits of paper data that accumulate in a chart and it must have a method of importing virtually anything either with a scanner or file import function. If some bit of paper possibly a lab slip or patient letter must be stored in a folder then you have lost one of the primary benefits of an electronic chart.

Another important feature is full integration. That means that each item is entered one time and then transfers to where ever else it is needed electronically. For example a procedure will progress from diagnosis to charting to treatment planning to scheduling to treatment to insurance to payment. This is called single entry. If the user has to re-enter information such as procedure codes, tooth numbers or fees at any stage then the software is not fully integrated.

Good charting software must accommodate all the information we used to record on paper. That includes existing restorations, conditions, diagnostic findings, treatment plans, periodontal probings and tissue conditions, tooth surfaces, materials and procedure notes.

Charting software must be easy to use. Every mouse click or keystroke slows down the process and makes the program harder to use, which means it doesn’t get used. The more the user can customize the chart the easier it is to use. That means the user can create shortcuts, eliminate features they don’t use and designate functions for each button.

Data entry needs to be fast and easy. The standard is still mouse clicks and keystrokes however faster more intuitive entry methods are available. Like voice; we’d all like to talk to our computer just like Star Trek. Some charting programs allow users to speak in clinical findings like pocket depths, tooth conditions and restorations. Another alternative entry is touch, instead of clicking a mouse the user touches the screen. The latest is “Ink” a special function that allows users to write or draw on the chart just as if it was a piece of paper.

Dental Speaker Paperless

Common “Paperless” Mistake

A common mistake dental offices make regarding digital records is to gather digital information, such as photographs, but store it in separate dental software that is not part of the patient’s digital record. To be most effective the digital information must be all part of the same record using either a fully integrated system or linking each system using computer bridges.

For more help with paperless records and using the Internet join us at Technology on the Rocks.

Management Software

Customizing Ledger Colors in Dentrix G6

Dentrix Tip:

Customizing Ledger Colors in Dentrix G6

The Dentrix G6 Ledger has alternating shaded rows to make it easier to read individual line items. You can customize the color of that alternate row shading.

Ledger Setup

via Dentrix Tip Tuesdays: Customizing Ledger Colors in Dentrix G6.


Dentrix G6

The newest Dentrix upgrade G6 is  on the way. Are you ready?

If you’re running Dentrix G5.2 and you have an active Dentrix Customer Service Plan (CSP), you’re ready for Dentrix G6 now. You don’t have to do anything else – your upgrade will be sent directly to your practice. You’ll also save $210 on the Current Dental Terminology (CDT) codes for 2015, because the latest CDT codes are included in your plan.

If you don’t have an active Dentrix CSP, call 800.336.8749 today or visit  to make sure you’re ready for Dentrix G6.

If you’re running Dentrix G4.8 or earlier, you need to enroll in a Dentrix CSP before you upgrade to Dentrix G6. In addition to free upgrades, a Dentrix CSP provides unlimited technical assistance, mobile access to your Dentrix system, training, eServices and more. Call 800.336.8749 today and we’ll help you get ready for Dentrix G6.

The new capabilities in Dentrix G6 that will streamline your office, help you improve patient care, and make your practice more profitable.

Hardware Paperless

Setting up an e-pad in Dentrix

Forms and signatures is an area that keep dental offices from going paperless. However it is easy and cost effective to use e-forms and e-signatures.

Dentalcompare Management

Hiring and Training Staff for Technology Success

trainIn Case you missed it: Dentalcompare from Nov. 2013.

Dentists sometimes worry about new staff members, “What if I spend a lot of time and money training them and then they leave?”

What if you don’t train them and they stay?

 …There are three possible outcomes to adding technology to the office only one of which is good.

One: The office pays for the installation of a new high tech system then throws team members at it with little or no training and no system in place to implement the technology. This is all too common and almost always results in frustrated staff and wasted money.

Two: An office spends the money to implement a technology system then spends additional time and money training a staff person to use it. The staff person clings to the old way of doing things, fails to implement the system, is the wrong person for the job and either leaves or even worse stays in place like a roadblock preventing things from progressing. The result is again frustrated staff and wasted money.

Three: The dental office buys the system, sets up training, develops protocols to use it effectively and engages team members to use the system, learn and get better. The result is faster better service, decreased costs and happy staff.

Notice the determining factor in our three outcomes is not the technology it is the people using it. It is how they are trained, how the office established the benefits of the technology and helped the staff learn.

via Emmott On Technology: Hiring and Training Staff for Technology Success |

Training Training Training. One of the two biggest mistakes dentists make with high tech is not enough training. In far too many dental offices only one person knows how to use the computer and she doesn’t know much because she is self-taught.

Training is not a one-time event but should be ongoing. If you have not had any computer training in the last 18 months you are almost certainly losing time and money by failing to use your technology effectively.

Using technology effectively starts with training but it requires much more. It is not enough to know which icon to click you must know why you are clicking it. What is the outcome or solution you are expecting from the technology?

If you are a Dentrix user they offer a wide range of training options including webinars, seminars, in office trainers, on demand and coaching.


Paperless Mistakes

One of the common mistakes dentists make with electronic charting is that they only go part way. Sometimes we miss the obvious, it is the old “can’t see the forest for the trees” In this case the trees are the individual processes that can be used to create digital information. The forest is the paperless record. If all you see are trees then you might use an electronic chart for treatment planning but make progress notes on paper. You might install a digital radiograph system and not link it to other records. You might have a computer up front for finances and scheduling but don’t have computers in the back for charting.

The tendency is to concentrate on individual processes or technologies without integrating the process into the whole.

For example: The office may use a paper chart in the treatment room during diagnosis to mark future treatment. Then they take the paper chart to the computer and enter everything again. They will use the computer to create an estimate, insurance forms and schedule. Then they will go back to the paper chart to enter procedure notes, back to the computer to take a payment, back to paper for a prescription, back to the computer for the next appointment then back to paper to check the x-rays.

What the office ends up with is a mess. Everything is done at least twice, the paper chart is still needed no one is ever sure if something is on paper or in the computer. As a result the computer chart doesn’t save time and money it makes things worse.

Another mistake is to gather digital information, such as photographs, but store it in separate dental software that is not part of the patient’s digital record. To be most effective the digital information must be all part of the same record using either a fully integrated system or linking each system using computer bridges.

Time and again the dental office has everything in place to go paperless but they still make paper just because that is the way they have always done it. Overcoming the inertia of change is frequently the most difficult task of going paperless.

There is also an element of fear. Often it is the dentist but it may be the staff; one or the other is afraid of what they do not know, the future, so they hold on to what is known, the past.

For more help on creating a paperless record look here:

Paperless Software

Dentrix Tip -Charting Conditions

If you want conditions to show on the Graphic Chart, then you can chart them using the ADA CDT condition codes. These codes function like all other procedure codes in Dentrix, allowing you to input a tooth, surface, or quadrant.

Feb 11 Conditions

via Dentrix Tip Tuesdays: Charting Conditions using ADA Condition Codes.

As a general rule dentists are lousy at charting conditions and diagnosis. We often substitute the treatment plan for a diagnosis. For example a crown is not a diagnosis it is a treatment. The diagnosis could be a fractured tooth, extensive decay or a failing filling. All of those could lead to a crown. Or they could lead to a filling, an extraction or some other treatment.

Good documentation should include the conditions, the diagnosis and the treatment plan(s).


Splitting a Primary Insurance Claim

Dentrix Tip

 At times, insurance carriers will send a partial payment for an insurance claim. You can post the partial payment while still keeping track of the unpaid procedures by splitting the claim. Once the original claim is split into two or more separate claims, you still have all the reports and options available with any unpaid claim.

Dentrix Tip Tuesdays: Splitting a Primary Insurance Claim.

Management Paperless

DentrixDoesIt – YouTube

A great video training resource for Dentrix uses:

DentrixDoesIt – YouTube.

General Management

Uninformed, Clueless or Frightened?

Implementing new dental software technology in the dental office involves a lot more than just chosing, buying and installing some tech gizmo. In fact just choosing the right gizmo is fraught with change and knowledge issues let alone using it effectively. The following is adapted from Seth Godin.

When faced with change or even just making a decision people are one of three things; Uninformed, Clueless or Frightened.

Uninformed people need information and insight in order to figure out what to do next. They are approaching the problem with optimism and calm, but they need to be taught. Uninformed is not a negative term, it’s a temporary state.

Clueless people don’t know what they don’t know, they don’t know what to do and they don’t know that they don’t know what to do. They don’t know the right questions to ask. Giving them instructions is insufficient. First, they need to be sold on what the platform even looks like.

Frightened people will resist any help you can give them, and they will blame you for the stress the change is causing. Scared people like to shoot the messenger.

I have encountered dentists in all three states trying to make buying decisions.

Anti-Buzz Software

Anti-Buzz: Peanut Butter Sandwich

The Buzz: You wish that product X did Y

The Anti-Buzz: I wish I had a peanut butter sandwich, too.

What? This week I share with you one of the common teaching metaphors in computer programming: The peanut butter sandwich.

 All of us, myself included, are consumers of computing technology, and so have a lot of opinions about the merits and demerits of various products. And rightly so; we are the customers, and our feedback should be valued. When users consistently want a feature, or dislike a certain layout, or otherwise have sound opinions, the producers of the technologies we use would be wise to listen. All of us together have a lot of good ideas and opinions about what software should do.

But I’m not here to talk about the good ideas and opinions, I’m here to talk about the bad ones, (or, more accurately, the infeasible ones). I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard someone say they wished some product would do some thing and I would think to myself that what they wanted was either impossible, or significantly more difficult than they realized. Usually these sorts of suggestions are very subtle variations on the classic “I wish the computer would just know what I wanted” which, at the end of the day, is something we all want.

Even highly skilled programmers sometimes shake the computer by the collar and say “Oh please! You should know what I mean by now!” in response to some mistake. But there is a big disconnect between what the casual consumer wants and what the casual consumer understands. The tendency is to believe that the computer is magical or smart or both and I have said many times before that, no, computers are stupid and they are certainly not magic.

To prove it, I’m going to make a peanut butter sandwich.


Dentrix G5 Shipping

Dentrix has started shipping their newest version G5 to a limited number of users. The “Official” release is scheduled for the Hinman meeting in Atlanta March 22-24. However by starting now with limited numbers they can ensure tech support for users installing the new version and catch and fix any unforeseen bugs before general distribution. That’s a good thing 🙂

Dental Software – Dentrix.

A short list of G5 enhancements includes:

  • Electronic Explanation of Benefits (eEOB) lets practices receive, review and automatically record remittance advice in the Dentrix Ledger.
  • eClaims Attachment Notifications warn users to include attachments on insurance claims for carriers that require them, reducing rejected or delayed claims.
  • The new Screen Capture utility lets users drag over any part of the visible screen to create a new document and save it to the Document Center.  This is especially useful for creating claims attachments.
  • Sequentially Numbered Daysheets record each time the Daysheet is printed or previewed.  When combined with logon passwords it creates a gapless record that shows who has accessed the Daysheet and when.
  • Dentrix Dentalink is a new add-on feature that provides secure instant messaging, letting users easily communicate throughout the office with minimal disruption to patient care and workflow.
  • The new Dentrix Mobile upgrade is an add-on product that presents an improved interface designed specifically for Apple iPad and Motorola Xoom tablet users.

More to come.


Electronic Dental Record (EDR)

At a very basic level an EDR is simply a digital or electronic dental chart. That is, all the information or data that we used to create using paper is instead created in a digital format and stored as an electronic record. This includes charting, treatment planning, procedure notes, medical histories, lab slips, lab results, photos, x-rays, models, finances and a lot more. It is possible to create a completely digital or electronic version of these things right now with many of the leading dental Practice Management Systems (PMS) like Dentrix and Eaglesoft. However as good as these systems are they are not fulfilling the promise of EDR.

An ideal EDR (or EMR) collects all the relevant medical dental data about an individual, organizes it in a meaningful manner and, here is the kicker, it allows that data to be accessed anytime anywhere by anyone with a legitimate reason to use it.

Current PMS products may do a fine job of creating a digital dental chart but the chart data is confined to the specific dental office where the data is stored. It is difficult or impossible to transfer that data to another office, even if the other office is using the same PMS. It is difficult or impossible to import data into a PMS from an outside source.

This is am excerpt from my recent article in Medscape.

Paperless Software

Basic Paperless Records Questions

Lorne Lavine has worked with over 1800 dental practices helping them choose and set up good technology systems. Here are five questions he suggests you ask your Practice Management Software Provider.

  • What training options are available for the software?
  • How do you handle data conversions?
  • What are your support hours and how many support people work for you?
  • How often and how do you update the software?
  • Do I have to buy all my hardware and networking through you?
Diagnostics Radiography Software

3dMD Software

3dMD’s packaged hardware and software solutions are designed to provide valuable information that help dental specialists and surgeons make the best decision for patient treatment.

via 3dMD Home Page.

Hardware Software

Microsoft Pushes for Demise of XP

 According to the linked article Microsoft has announced that users have 1000 days until the company stops supporting XP. I know many dentists still using XP, in large part because “Vista” the OS between XP and 7 had a less than stellar reputation. Never fear, 1000 days is close to three years and you should replace any machine running XP long before that.

Microsoft announced Monday that it has now sold 400 million Windows 7 licenses and encouraged users to start ditching Windows XP in favor of its more advanced operating system

via With 400M Windows 7 Licenses Sold, Microsoft Pushes for Demise of XP | News & Opinion |

Future Tech Management

Adopt vs. adapt

More thoughtful thoughts from Seth Godin. We certainly see this with the adoption of technology in dentistry. I have come to believe the success of new technology in a dental office has far more to do with the mindset of the dentist and staff than the actual technology. Successful early adopters see glitches as minor inconveniences to be quickly overcome. Less successful later adapters see every glitch as an affirmation that change is wrong, they are easily frustrated and always looking for an excuse to go back to the old ways.

An early adopter seeks out new ideas and makes them work.

An adapter, on the other hand, puts up with what he has to, begrudgingly.

One is offense, the other is defense. One requires the spark of curiousity, the other is associated with fear, or at least hassle

via Seth’s Blog: Adopt vs. adapt.

Paperless Software

Integration vs. Bridging

All the patient information: chart notes, radiographs, probings, correspondence, photographs and all the rest should be linked to the patient chart. This can be accomplished in two ways; integration or bridging.

Integration: If the data and radiographs are integrated as part of the digital patient record that usually means that the radiographic application is made by the same company as the charting application. The images can be seen within the chart application. The images and chart data share a common data base.

Bridging: Bridging is usually done in order to link applications made by different companies. The radiographs are not visible as part of the chart but can be accessed with a single click.

Integration and bridging are technically different but both work well and provide the user with a similar experience. Dentists should avoid using stand alone add on systems that are not linked to the patient record. A stand alone system will be much harder to use, take more time and is more prone to error or lost data.