Reports to Maximize Your Practice’s Productivity

A Guest blog from Denise Ciardello. The opinions expressed are from Denise not Dr. Larry Emmott. However I believe it is valuable for dentists to get various takes on technology issues in order to make good technology choices.


“What reports should I be looking at daily, weekly and monthly?” I wish I had a nickel for every time I have been asked this—my Starbucks habit would be covered for life.

Unfortunately, this question often doesn’t get asked until after fraudulent activity has already occurred in a practice. The fact is that there are just a few reports that, when run and used regularly, could have spared the frustration.

Now I know there are a few people that drool with excitement over the idea of cranking through reports and numbers; however, since many of us are not quite as thrilled with reports, I will keep the list short and sweet.

Daily Reports You Should Be Running

  • Day sheet. It should only take the doctor 10 minutes to review this report every day, which lists all activity in the office for that day, including procedures completed and monies collected. The doctor looking through this report each day ensures that all procedures are recorded accurately—because I have yet to meet a doctor that remembers a month later that Mrs. Jones had a DO on #19, not an MO.
  • Adjustments only day sheet. There are so many reasons for adjustments, insurance being the main culprit. Because adjustments are inevitable, I recommend a cursory review of all the money that is being removed from the practice’s bank account on a daily basis to identify issues. Then if something seems out of line, you can ask timely questions.
  • Deposit slip. The numbers on this report should balance with all money that was collected for the day—credit card slips, checks, cash and electronic transfers. Keeping this balanced can help you stay on top of your finances before they become an issue.


Weekly Reports You Should Be Running

Depending on the length of these reports, they can be delayed to run biweekly or even monthly. However, the longer the report, the more often it should be run and reviewed.

  • Insurance aging. With the invention of the Internet, eClaims and electronic payments, it is no longer normal to wait 30 days for claims to be paid. Claims can be tracked online, and reports with the status of outstanding claims appear with each claim submission. Insurance companies are even oftentimes emailing the office that a payment is in the bank. This report should never be more than a few pages long.
  • Aging report and/or billing statemen It is normal in the dental field to send out statements once a month. However, if you send out 300 statements on Thursday your phone will be ringing off the hook come Monday. Running this report every other week will ensure that you will never have to worry about not having the staffing power to keep up with calls or patients who are calling to schedule an appointment having trouble getting through.Consider splitting up your statements before sending them out, like in alphabetical order. Send A-G one week, then H-M, and so forth. This will keep the calls manageable. As a bonus, this will allow revenue to come in all month long.


Monthly Reports You Should Be Running

These are great reports to review with your team at monthly meetings.

  • Practice analysis. Have you ever wondered what procedure(s) account for the majority of your production? This report will tell you what was done each month. It can also be used to compare to the year over year in the number of procedures. This is valuable information that will truly allow you to keep your finger on the pulse of the practice and see opportunities to grow.
  • New patient report. This will allow you to know who came in and how they were referred, as well as the return on investment (ROI) of your marketing efforts. You can know which of your patients are talking about you because as a rule of thumb, your current patients should refer 70% of your new patients.

There are so many reports that can be run if you have the time and desire. I encourage you to explore some of those reports also, but if you don’t have the time and simply want the basic reports for a successful practice, these are key to keeping an eye on your business and avoiding headaches down the road.

To learn more read my new eBook “5 Ways to Increase Your Practice Productivity”.

Hardware Office Design

Clinical Workstations and the Cloud

desktopCloud based practice management systems have come a long way and I believe the concept of cloud computing has unlimited potential. However practice management is just a small part of how we now use computers in the treatment rooms.

Clinical computers are far more than simple data entry business machines, they need to support a host of new clinical and diagnostic devices. For example, in addition to Practice Management software a treatment room computer needs to support digital radiography, X-ray sensors, digital photos and image management, CAD-CAM, impression cameras, multiple monitors, caries detection, heads up magnification, video guided surgery, multiple inputs including computerized probes, voice charting, video input and even vital signs. The treatment room computer must have a high speed Internet connection and needs to support multimedia patient education, streaming video and communication with sound and speakers.

For this reason treatment room computers need to be the biggest and fastest machines in the office and need to be updated regularly, at least every three years. Often we put the most powerful machines at the front desk when in fact the business aspect of the practice requires much less computing power than the clinical side.

It is a mistake to believe that you can save money with basic input output computers if you use a cloud based management system. You will still need a powerful machine for the the rest of the clinical functions such as CAD-CAM.

Get some help:


Umbie Dental

Umbie, another cloud based dental management software.


Dental Practice Management Software | Umbie Dental.

e-Services Internet Management Software

Appointments Online

From The Dentrix Dentist:

A new Dentrix G5 Connected partner has applied the “book anytime” concept to dental appointments. LocalMed ( is the first online scheduling platform that allows patients to find dentists, view real-time availability and book confirmed appointments, 24/7

via The Dentrix Dentist.

Sounds like Open Table for dentistry.

Internet Management Mobile Paperless

Fast Notes App

Interesting New App

Fast Notes App.

I have long been a fan of the Dentrix auto notes feature. However many dentists seem to have a hard time using it. This new app looks like an interesting approach.

Future Tech

Predicting the Future

Bartolo Villemand prediction

Around 1910 French artist Bartolo Villemard published a series of post cards predicting what life would be like in the year 2000. Many are whimsical but a few are surprisingly accurate.  The image above looks a lot like Skype or some other form of video phone call.

What he got right is interesting but what he got wrong is instructive.

The clothing, the styles, the furniture and the general design of the technology are all wrong. It all looks like it belongs in an upscale Edwardian drawing room. Even the servant (or assistant) running the machine is an anachronism.  No one needs a helper to man the iPad while they chat on Face Time.

The point is that we tend to see the future and new technology encased in our current world. It is relatively easy to predict something like video phones it is much more difficult to envision the world those phones will inhabit.

We certainly see this in dentistry. Most often we use technology simply to compliment what we are already doing and fail to see how it could and even should completely transform our world.

For more of Villemard’s futuristic post cards look here: and thanks to Brad Royer from Dentrix for the idea.


e-Services Q&D BOE ROI

Here is a partial list of the office administrative tasks that could be done with an e-service.

  • Print and mail re-call cards
  • Data entry of patient forms
  • Eligibility calls
  • Update charts
  • Confirmation calls
  • Copy X-rays
  • Data backup
  • Prep and mail claims
  • Take and enter payments
  • Answer phone for routine questions
  • Prepare bills, print and mail
  • Reactivate patients

All of these tasks take staff time which we dentists pay for; plus there are the hard costs of supplies like paper, envelopes, printing, ink, postage, data tapes and more. Staff time, of course, is not just the salary but benefits, taxes, social security, insurance and all the rest

Based on some Q&D BOE* math dentists pay around $32,000 per year to do these things in office with staff people. Using e-services you could do the same things, faster, better, more reliably for less than $9,000.

*Q&D BOE = Quick and Dirty Back of the Envelope. These are not scientific or specific but best guesses based on observation and experience.

Dentalcompare Software

Who Knows What ?

This week on Dental Compare: There are six different primary functions found in Practice Management Software. Everybody does not need to know everything but everybody does need to know something.

Every dental team member does not need to be a mouse master with intimate knowledge of every click and cranny of the software. However every dental team member—including the dentist—does need to understand the basics and to master the sections specific to their area of responsibility

via Emmott On Technology: Who Knows What About Dental Practice Management Software? |

What the assistant needs to know is not what the front desk needs to know and the hygienist needs to know something else again. See which of the six basic functions each needs to master.


Future Tech General Health Care Politics Management Security

Who Owns the Data? Good Question

I think the following comment regarding this post from last week is worth highlighting.

You are right on target about the PMS companies NOT owning the data in the PMS. So it baffles me that Henry Schein has take the opposite stance with Dentrix G5. If you don’t already know – they have encrypted the database in this new version, and have told users that they can work only with the 3rd party vendors THEY (Schein) chooose. So for things like e-claims, you can’t choose any company you like to extract the claim data from G5 and submit claims for you. Ditto for digital x-ray systems – only the ones “approved” by Schein will get access to your patient data in G5.

I’m curious to know your opinion on this decision, and what you think dentists should do if they disagree with it.


Brian Smith
Lighthouse PMG

On the one hand I completely understand that PMS systems like Dentrix and the others must take action to protect the patient data base from both hackers and possible corruption from third party vendors writing directly to the application.

On the other hand I believe that as the creator and custodian of the data the dentist should have complete access to it in a usable fashion to export as he/she sees fit. Of course the dentist still needs to abide by HIPAA and other rules regarding care of the data. Never the less if I own it, as opposed to the PMS system owning it, then I should be able to use it and the current systems do not function in that manner.

What should dentists do? I am not sure, however the vast majority have never considered the issue. That is why I am bringing it up.

Management Paperless

Common Misconceptions About Going Paperless

My latest article in Dental Products Report on Going Paperless is available online:

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 and they just don’t trust the new system.

Dental Products Report – February 2012 [80].

This article obviously relates to the previous posting about the contents of an electronic (or paperless) record.

e-Services Management

Data Mining

Data mining is the act of looking for useful relationships in out general business data that can be used to better manage our practice or serve our patients. My article in Dentalcompare “No More Management by Guesswork”  looks at how data mining can work using an online e-service, Action Run.

Dental Speaker Management Software

Dentalcompare Video



Computer Security

I have long had mixed feelings about computer security. On one hand I acknowledge we do need to be aware of the issues and take precautions, on the other hand I am such a Pollyanna when it comes to digital technology I just want it to be wonderful and tend to ignore the seamier aspects of fraud and hackers.

Absolute computer security is impossible just like it is impossible to absolutely secure your home against a burglar. All we can do is make it more difficult by adding additional measures. We can simply lock the doors or we can install an alarm, release roving Dobermans and hire 24 hour armed guards. It all depends on the expense and hassle factor we are willing to put up with for the added level of security.

It has been the same with computer security. Additional security layers like multiple “hard” secret passwords changed weekly, dongles, biometrics, encryption, layered firewalls, antivirus applications and such will improve security; it just depends on the hassle factor you are willing to put up with.

What happens in real life in the dental office is that user passwords are anything but secret (they are often left on the computer via sticky note) once logged in we stay logged in all day even though we move away from our computer constantly. It is just too much of a hassle to log off and log back in every time we move from one room to another or get up to go in the back.

The PrivateEye system linked below may be a first step to creating seamless and hassle free security. The computer actually recognizes you and turns itself off and on when you move away. Here is a system we could live with. Log in at the start of the day with a biometric then use a recognition system like PrivateEye to make sure it is you using that machine throughout the rest of the day.

PrivateEye uses a built-in or peripheral webcam to identify your face. As long as you’;re sitting in front of the computer and looking at the screen, it does nothing. If you look away, it fuzzes out the screen contents.

via PrivateEye Review & Rating |


Need some Speed? Upgrade Your Computer Memory

Are you handy with a Philips head? Here is a link to a DIY guide to adding RAM.

In this age of instant gratification, nothing can frustrate a computer user more than a desktop PC that takes a really looooonnng time to finish a task. But that’s the reality when you’ve been using a system for a few years. In the interim there have been new applications you’ve downloaded, maybe even a new operating system that you’ve installed because you thought it would actually speed up your PC. The most likely culprit for this loss of speed is the memory (or not enough of it). The good news is upgrading to more memory is a simple enough fix, and we’re just the ones to walk you through the steps.

via RAM Upgrade: How To Upgrade Your Computer Memory |


How the Tablet Will Change the World

Interesting article at the link. I am not ready to buy into all the tablet hype. As the author notes you still need a keyboard to do any real work.

…it also represents an ambitious rethinking of how we use computers. No more files and folders, physical keyboards and mouses. Instead, the iPad offers a streamlined yet powerful intuitive experience that’s psychically in tune with our mobile, attention-challenged, super-connected new century.

via How the Tablet Will Change the World | Magazine.