As you make changes to fee schedules for the new year, make sure those changes are reflected in patient treatment plan costs as well.
Do you have a protocol in your practice for how and when you increase your office fees? The insurance companies your office is contracted with will increase their fees periodically. You also need to increase your office fees for patients who are either uninsured, or for whom you are out of network with their insurance.
Some practices don’t increase their fees regularly. I suggest that fees be increased annually. A good time to do these fee increases is at the first of every year. This ensures this process will be done on a consistent basis.
The cost of running a dental practice goes up. The cost of supplies, lab fees, and other monthly bills increase annually so it makes sense to subsequently increase your office fees.
Each year, make a note on your calendar to increase your office fees. A fair increase is 5-10%. You can increase your office fee schedule by a percentage in the Dentrix Office Manager. If you aren’t sure how your fees compare to offices in your area, consult with your Henry Schein Field Sales Consultant. They can run a fee analysis to see how your fees compare for your area.
For additional information about fee schedules, read Fee Schedules 101—What They Are, Why They’re Important, and How to Edit Them.
Once you have increased your office fees, any new treatment plans will reflect those updated fees. If a patient has had a treatment plan presented to them recently, those fees should be honored for a defined period of time—and make your patients aware of that timeframe. I would recommend honoring fees for three to six months. When printing treatment plans for patients, add a fee expiration date so that patients are aware of your office policy regarding fee increases.
For patients who have outstanding treatment-planned procedures, those fees will need to be updated. You can update treatment fees on a patient-by-patient basis, or for all patients at once.
I would recommend that you update fees for outstanding treatment plans for all patients on an annual basis. The reason behind doing it annually is that you may have patients with treatment plans that were created years ago. Those fees are outdated and need to be updated. Updating outstanding treatment fees can be done on an annual basis after you have updated your fee schedules in Dentrix.
Since some databases can be quite large, here’s some tips for you to update fees for all patients:
1. Update your fees on the server computer, not a workstation.
2. Perform this process outside of practice hours, when you’re not seeing patients, so no other computers are logged in to Dentrix.
3. Be patient. Depending on the size of your database, it may take some time.
Updating Treatment Fees
Open the Treatment Planner and from the Edit menu, select Update Treatment Fees. Choose the option to Update Treatment Plan Fees For: All Patients.
You will notice in this window you can choose to update fees for one particular procedure code or a procedure code range. This could be beneficial if your office updates the fee for one procedure during the year. However, for my example, I would recommend leaving the procedure code range as <ALL> to <ALL>. Then click Update to update the fees according to your current fee schedule.
Keeping fee schedules current and accurate, and updating fees for outstanding treatment plans annually, can help your office to charge the most accurate fees, therefore increasing production.
Make increasing your office fees a part of your annual routine.
For additional information, read the following :
- Fee Schedules 101—What They Are, Why They’re Important, and How to Edit Them
- Updating Office Fees Using the Automatic Fee Schedule Changes Utility
- Setting Expiration Dates for Treatment Plan Cases
- It’s Time to Update Office Fees Again
By Charlotte Skaggs
Certified Dentrix Trainer and The Dentrix Office Manager columnist
Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for over 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at firstname.lastname@example.org.