Don’t Let Patients Fall through Cracks in Your Hygiene Program

Follow along with these steps to make sure your patients are attached to continuing care in Dentrix.

A smoothly running continuing care system is one of the essential elements of a thriving dental practice. If your continuing care system is running efficiently and effectively, you’ll be better able to keep your patients coming in for regular cleanings and exams, which will lead to faster diagnoses and increased treatment rates in your practice. But when your continuing care system isn’t functioning properly, you can lose track of patients, which puts their health at risk and causes your office to miss out on treatment opportunities.

The Problem

Patients aren’t coming in for regular continuing care appointments. They aren’t receiving reminders from your office and don’t show up on your continuing care reports as being overdue.

One of the most common problems with an office’s continuing care system is patients who have fallen through the cracks. These are patients who haven’t been assigned to a continuing care type, so they don’t show up as being overdue for treatment in the Family File or on your reports. These could be patients who haven’t yet had a cleaning and exam appointment in your office and never had continuing care assigned to them. They could also be patients whose appointments weren’t scheduled correctly and weren’t attached to continuing care.

How do you know that a patient has fallen through the cracks of your continuing care system? There are three ways to identify that a patient could be in this situation.

  • The continuing care type is not listed in the patient’s account in the Family File.
  • The patient calls to schedule a cleaning and says they never got a reminder from you.
  • The patient does not show up as overdue in the Continuing Care List but has not been in for their continuing care appointment.

In the worst case scenario, these patients may not be attached to the PROPHY continuing care type, which means they are overdue for a cleaning and in need of screenings, diagnoses, and treatment, but you don’t realize it. In other cases, patients may be attached to the PROPHY continuing care type but not the BITEWINGS type or the PANOREX type. In those cases, patients may be coming in for cleanings, but Dentrix isn’t alerting you that the patient is in need of those other services.

The Solution

Locate patients who are not attached to a specific continuing care type, and then assign it to them. In order to solve the problem of patients falling through the cracks of your continuing care system, you need to first find the patients that are in that situation and then assign them to all the relevant continuing care types so you can track them along with the other patients in your practice.

Step 1: Set up a view in the Continuing Care module that shows all patients without the Prophy continuing care type assigned

The Continuing Care module is the Dentrix tool that allows you to search your continuing care system. The Continuing Care module uses report filters (called “views”) to search your Dentrix database and create a list of patients that match the criteria of the view. Dentrix comes with several views already set up, but you can create additional views as needed.

To create a new continuing care view you can use to find patients without continuing care assigned, from the Appointment Book, click the Continuing Care button. In the Continuing Care module, click Views > Continuing Care Views Setup, and then click New. In the New Continuing Care View dialog box, set up the following information in the view:

  • Call the view “Without prophy.”
  • Select the prophy continuing care type in the Type menu, and select Without CC.
  • Set the Last Visit Date Span fields from  to .

Click OK to save the view, then click Close to close the view setup.

Step 2: Generate the Continuing Care List using the view you set up

Once you have set up the view in the Continuing Care module, click Views > Without prophy to view the list of patients that match the criteria of the “Without prophy” view you set up. The Continuing Care list will appear with the names of all patients who do not have the PROPHY continuing care type assigned to them.

Note: Any time you want to run this list in the future you can open the Continuing Care module and click Views > Without prophy to view the list. You can skip step 1 since you will already have the list set up.

Step 3: Use the list you created to assign the patients to the Prophy continuing care type

Go through the list of patients and decide whether each patient should be attached to the Prophy continuing care type. To help you decide if the patient should be attached to that type, you can click Edit > Selected Patient’s Continuing Care to view the other continuing care types to which the patient is attached, or you can open the Patient Chart and look at the type of procedures you have completed for that patient. Keep in mind that some patients, like those who are on a perio continuing care schedule, may not need to be assigned to the Prophy type.

Once you have determined that a patient needs to be assigned to the Prophy continuing care type, assign the patient to that type. From the Continuing Care module, select the patient’s name on the list and click Edit > Selected Patient’s Continuing Care. In the selected patient’s Dentrix Continuing Care dialog box, select the Prophy continuing care type and click Set. In the Set Continuing Care dialog box, enter the details for that continuing care type for the patient, such as the patient’s next due date and the provider for this continuing care type, and then click OK. Note that the patient names drop off the list as they are assigned to continuing care.

Tip: If you want to assign the patient to a different interval than is standard for the other patients in your practice (for example, if this patient should be seen every four months for a prophy instead of every six months), you can do so in the Set Interval dialog box. Click the Due Date search button and then adjust the patient’s interval as needed.


Next Steps

Use this checklist to help you implement ideas from this article in your practice.

  • Talk with the doctor, hygienists, office manager, and other stakeholders in your practice and decide which continuing care types you want to make sure you are attaching to patients and tracking.
  • Set up a view in the Continuing Care module that shows all patients without continuing care assigned for each of the continuing care types you want to track.
  • Generate the Continuing Care list to find patients who are not attached to each of the types you decided to track. Attach those types to patients.
  • On a monthly basis, generate the Continuing Care list using the views you set up to find any new patients that are not attached the continuing care types you want to track. Attach them to continuing care as needed.

Repeat this process for bitewings, panos, and any other types of continuing care you want to track. As new patients come to your office, make sure they are properly assigned to continuing care and make sure you are attaching continuing care to appointments in order to prevent this problem in the future.


Learn More

For more tips like the ones in this article and to get in-depth training, attend a Dentrix workshop. Visit www.Dentrix.com/workshops for more information about workshops, including the full course list, course descriptions, and schedule.

To learn more, read “Continuing Care list view options” and “Editing Continuing Care types” in the Dentrix help files.


By Erin Brisk, Senior Editor

Originally published in Dentrix Magazine, Summer 2016