This year, expand your spring cleaning routines to include your Dentrix database so you can scrub away duplicate, outdated, or incorrect information.
The winter cold will soon melt into spring, which means it’s time to think about spring cleaning. At this time of year, we have a chance to purge our offices of unnecessary clutter and do a deep, thorough cleaning.
This year, in addition to dusting the back of the shelves and organizing the files on the doctor’s desk, you should clean up your Dentrix database. Cleaning up your Dentrix database will simplify your record keeping and make sure you aren’t storing duplicate, outdated, or incorrect information.
Use the following suggestions to find areas of Dentrix that you should scrub this year. Set up a schedule of when you’ll work on each area. Take it slowly and concentrate on one task at a time, and by summer your database will be clean and current.
1- Purging Appointments
The Appointment Book stores data for appointments as far into the past as you have been using Dentrix. After your practice has been using Dentrix for several years, you can accumulate a large amount of data stored in the Appointment Book. You can purge the Appointment Book of data from several years ago to decrease the amount of data being stored in the Appointment Book and speed up your system. To purge appointments:
- Open the Purge Appointments utility. From the Appointment Book, click File > Purge Appointments.
- Determine the cutoff date you want to use to purge appointments. For example, if you want to continue to see appointments for the past two years in the Appointment Book, set the cutoff date for two years and one day in the past. Any appointments that were scheduled before the cutoff date will be deleted from the Appointment Book. Note: Dentrix automatically adds an Office Journal entry for the patient that notes the date, time, and reason for the purged appointment so you still have record of it.
- Repeat the process for unscheduled appointments. Open the Unscheduled List in the Appointment Book and click Appt > Purge Appointments. Determine the cutoff date you want to use for unscheduled appointments.
2- Inactivating Patients
Every office differs in their definition of what constitutes an inactive patient, but as a general rule if a patient hasn’t been to your practice in several years and hasn’t responded to your efforts to get them to come back, you should set that patient’s status to Inactive in the Family File.
Setting patients as Inactive prevents them from appearing in the Continuing Care Module, Treatment Manager, and other reports, and also allows you to filter those patients from letter merges. To inactivate a patient:
- Define what constitutes an inactive patient in your practice. Meet with your team and determine how much time must past after a patient’s last appointment before the patient is considered inactive. Set up protocols for contacting patients to encourage them to come back to the office and determine which of those protocols need to be completed before a patient is inactivated.
- Find patients in your database who should be inactivated. Generate the Inactive Patient List. From the Office Manager, click Reports > Lists > Inactive Patient List. Search for patients with no future continuing care dates and no future appointments who have a last visit date before the length of time you determined in step 1.
- Change the patients’ status to Inactive in the Family File. Open the Family File for each patient on the Inactive Patient List. Double-click the Patient Information block and change the patient’s status from Patient to Inactive. Repeat this process for all patients on the list.
3- Cleaning Up Duplicate Insurance Plans
When two different people enter information for the same insurance plan, or when someone doesn’t verify whether a plan exists before entering it in the database, you wind up with duplicate insurance plans in Dentrix.
When duplicate plans exist in Dentrix, neither is being properly updated with payment table and coverage table data, so the plans will have inconsistent estimate information. One may have more accurate estimates or more detailed information than the other, but there’s no way for the office staff to track which plan is which. The solution is to purge the system of duplicate plans. To clean up duplicate insurance plans:
- Find duplicate insurance plans in your database. Run the Insurance Carrier List for all insurance plans. From the Office Manager, click Reports > Reference > Insurance Carrier List. Clear the Standard List checkbox and select Include Subscribers. Generate the Insurance Carrier List. Using the list, find the duplicate plans in your database. Be sure to look at different spellings for the same plan (like BCBS, Blue Cross, and Blue Cross Blue Shield).
- Decide which of the duplicate plans you want to keep. You can use the Insurance Maintenance utility in the Office Manager to see information about each insurance plan in your database from one list. Click Maintenance > Reference > Insurance Maintenance to open the utility. Click Ins Data, Cov Table, or Pmt Table to get more information about each plan. Edit the name of the plan you want to keep with an asterisk (*) so you’ll be able to identify it easily.
- Join the duplicate plans together. Joining the plans moves all the subscribers from the plan you’re going to delete to the plan you want to keep. From the Office Manager, click Maintenance > Reference > Insurance Maintenance. Click Join Plans. Use the Plan-to-Plan option to join the plans. For the Source Insurance Plan, select the plan you want to delete. For the Destination Insurance Plan, select the plan you want to keep. Click Join.
- Delete the duplicate plan. From the Office Manager, click Maintenance > Reference > Insurance Maintenance. Click Purge. Select the plan you want to delete, and click Delete. Note: You can’t delete a plan if there are outstanding claims attached to that plan, so you’ll have to wait for all claims to clear before you can finish this step.
4- Purging Exported Files
Whenever you merge letters in Dentrix or export data from a letter merge or report, Dentrix keeps a log file of that export. It’s important to purge these exported files from your database on a regular basis, even daily. Having a large number of exported files can dramatically increase the size of your database. But more importantly, these exported files often include patient information and other sensitive data that you should protect by deleting them. To purge exported files:
- Open the Purge Exported Files Utility. From the Office Manager, click Maintenance > Purge Exported Files.
- Select the information you want to purge. You can purge data files for Letter Merge letters and Quick Letters or text and log files from reports and utilities. You should remove both types of files.
5- Cleaning Up Duplicate Employers
It’s easy to end up with duplicate employers in Dentrix. Often, two different people enter an employer for the same new patient or someone doesn’t verify whether an employer is already in Dentrix before entering it in the database.
Having duplicate employers in your database increases the size of your database unnecessarily and can lead to other problems, like duplicate insurance providers. To clean up duplicate employers:
- Find the duplicate employers in your database. Run the Employer List to find duplicate employers in your database. From the Office Manager, click Reports > Reference > Employer List. Use the Employer List to find duplicate employers. Be sure to look at different spellings for the same employer (like Henry Schein, HS Inc, and HSIC).
- Decide which of the duplicate employers you want to keep. You can use the Employer Maintenance utility in the Office Manager to see information about each employer in your database from one list. Click Maintenance > Reference > Employer Maintenance to open the utility. Click Edit to get more information about each employer. Edit the name of the employer you want to keep with an asterisk (*) so you’ll be able to identify it easily.
- Join the duplicate employers together. Joining the employers moves all the patients from the employer you’re going to delete to the employer you want to keep. From the Office Manager, click Maintenance > Reference > Employer Maintenance. Click Join Employers. For the Source Employer, select the employer you want to delete. For the Destination Employer, select the plan you want to keep. Click Join.
- Delete the duplicate employer. From the Office Manager, click Maintenance > Reference > Employer Maintenance. Click Purge. Select the employer you want to delete, and click Delete.
6- Cleaning Up Continuing Care Types
In Dentrix you can set up a completely customized continuing care system that fits the needs of your practice. You can set up multiple continuing care types for which you control the name, the interval, the provider, and the time required. And you can customize these types on a per-patient basis, which means you only need to set up one continuing care type for each kind of continuing care you want to track.
For example, you don’t need to set up a three-month perio type, a four-month perio type, and a six-month perio type. Instead, you should set up one perio type that can be customized as needed for each patient. If you have multiple types tracking the same kind of continuing care in your database, patients’ continuing care dates won’t reset at correct intervals and patients won’t show up on continuing care lists when they’re expected to. To clean up continuing care types:
- Determine which continuing care types you want to track. From the Office Manager, click Maintenance > Practice Setup > Continuing Care > Continuing Care Setup. Evaluate each of the continuing care types listed there and determine whether you want to track them. Make note of the types you don’t want to track.
- Customize continuing care types to fit the most common interval. Select the types you want to track one by one and click Edit. Customize the type to reflect the most common interval you use in your office. Since you can edit each patient’s intervals on an individual basis, you don’t need to have separate types set up for each possible interval.
- Find any patients attached to the continuing care type(s) you don’t need. Generate a temporary view in the Continuing Care module to find patients attached to the continuing care type you don’t need. From the Appointment Book, click File > Continuing Care. In the Continuing Care module click Views > Temporary View. Select the continuing care type you don’t need and make sure With CC is selected.
- Re-assign patients to the correct continuing care type. Using the Continuing Care list you generated in step 3, clear the continuing care type you want to delete from each patient and assign them to the continuing care type you want to keep. Select each patient on the list and click Edit > Selected Patient’s Continuing Care. Click Edit and assign the patient to the continuing care type you edited in step 1. Next, select the continuing care type you want to delete and click Clear. Note: It is very important to reassign patients to the correct type before you delete the type you don’t want to use so patients don’t disappear from the list.
- Clear unwanted continuing care types from inactive patients and non-patients. When patients are inactivated or set as non-patients, their continuing care types are not cleared. You must also clear the continuing care types you want to delete from these patients. You can find the inactive patients and non-patients attached to a continuing care type using the Patient Report by Filters in the Letter Merge.
- Delete the continuing care types you don’t need. From the Office Manager, click Maintenance > Practice Setup > Continuing Care > Continuing Care Setup. Based on the types you decided to keep in step 1, select one of the types you want to delete, and click Delete. Repeat for all continuing care types you don’t need. Note: After you complete this step, you should only have one of each type of continuing care remaining in the list.
To learn more about purging appointments, see the “Purging Appointments” topic in the Dentrix Help.
To learn more about inactivating patients, see the “Adding New Family Accounts” topic in the Dentrix Help.
To learn more about cleaning up duplicate insurance plans, see the “Deleting Duplicate Insurance Carriers” topic in the Dentrix Help.
To learn more about purging exported files, see the “Purge Exported Files” topic in the Dentrix Help.
To learn more about cleaning up duplicate employers, view the “Deleting Employers” topic in the Dentrix Help.
To learn more about cleaning up duplicate continuing care types, view the “Deleting a Continuing Care Type” topic in the Dentrix Help.
By Erin Brisk, Senior Editor
Originally published in Dentrix Magazine, Spring 2014