Clean Up Your Active Patient Base

Learn how to define your active patients in Dentrix.

Updated 10/29/21

If you’re like many practices, you probably have patients in your Dentrix database that you haven’t seen in a few years. Are these patients simply “inactive” or should you archive them? What is the difference between a “non-patient,” “inactive patient,” and “archived patient”?

These questions come up a lot when I work with dental practices on cleaning up their Dentrix database and putting effective systems in place for managing their active patient base. It is important to know what your active patient base is so you are not reaching out to patients who have either left the practice or died. Having accurate, up-to-date reports and patient lists is important when you start following up with unscheduled treatment and overdue recare.

Generating a Patient List

First, you’ll want to generate a list of patients you haven’t seen in a while. On the Office Manager menu bar, click Letters & Custom Lists and then click Inactive Patient to display the Inactive Patient Letters & Custom Lists dialog box.

Under Select Letter or Custom List, make sure Inactive — All is selected. Click the double arrow next to Last Visit Date Range and specify an Ending Date that is at least a year or two in the past, such as 01/01/2014. Click OK, and then click Open List Manager. The List Manager window appears. Click the Patient Last Visit Date column header twice to list patients with the oldest Patient Last Visit Date first.

Before you make sweeping changes to the patient status for this list of patients, consider contacting them. You can click the Create Letters button on the toolbar to generate letters in Microsoft Word that you can send to these patients.

Setting the Patient Status

If you’re ready to change the status of a patient, with the patient selected in the list, click the Family File icon on the toolbar to open the patient record in the Family File. To change the patient status, with the patient selected in the Family File, double-click the Patient Information block at the top of the Family File window. When the Patient Information dialog box appears, click Status .

I would like to share with you the definitions of each patient status and also my recommendation on how to use them:

  • Patient — This person is an active patient.
  • Non-Patient — This is a person who is either an insurance holder or a guarantor on a family account. This is not a person who comes to your office for dental care. This person could also have a patient account if he or she is only an insurance holder for another patient in your practice. For example, if mom is a patient with her two children and dad is the insurance subscriber, then mom would be the guarantor and dad would be a non-patient on the account.
  • Inactive — This is where it gets a little “gray.” If you mark a patient as inactive, he or she will still show up in all search results, and you can still send out letters and generate reports. My opinion is that if you have exhausted all your resources by calling, sending letters, and emailing patients, and they are not responding to you, then you should mark them as inactive. Setting the patient status to inactive will at least remove them from the Continuing Care lists, and you can also remove them from other management reports.
  • Archived — Archiving a patient removes them from all search results, removes them from all Continuing Care, erases all insurance information, and deletes any future appointments in the schedule. My opinion is that if patients have told you they are leaving, or you know they have died, then archive them. If the patient who has left the practice decides to return, you can bring the account back to active status and re-enter the insurance and continuing care information.

After changing the status, click OK to save your changes. Having a clean, accurate system helps with many things like patient count, unscheduled treatment numbers, and setting goals. I hope you will take some time to clean up your patient status and create helpful systems in your practice based on these status definitions.

Learn More

For more information, see the List Manager Overview and Archiving Patients topics in Dentrix Help.

Get ideas about keeping your patients engaged with your practice at

By Dayna Johnson, Certified Dentrix Trainer

Dayna loves her work. She has over 25 years of experience in the dental industry, and she’s passionate about building efficient, consistent, and secure practice management systems. Dayna knows that your entire day revolves around your practice management software—the better you learn to use it, the more productive and stress-free your office will be. In 2016, Dayna founded Novonee ™, The Premier Dentrix Community, to help cultivate Dentrix super-users all over the country. Learn more from Dayna at and contact Dayna at