Dreamstime 13391156 Medical Files
Dreamstime 13391156 Medical Files
Dreamstime 13391156 Medical Files
Dreamstime 13391156 Medical Files
Dreamstime 13391156 Medical Files

Front office tips from experts

Dec. 18, 2013

Beginning in 2012, Dentistry IQ has periodically offered its readers the chance to explore tips from practice management experts that cover all areas of the dental practice, from patient relationships to the staff to financial concerns to front office matters to marketing strategies.

Whatever your role in the dental practice — whether you're a dentist, hygienist, front office worker, or even a consultant — there's sure to be something in this collection of tips that will help you as you continually commit to your job and practice.

The two previous incarnations of the 100 Tips articles have been big hits on the Dentistry IQ website — the original version still ranks as one of the top-read articles on our website. This fall, the Dentistry IQ editors decided to gather another round of tips. Due to a slight decrease in the number of tips we received this time around, and to increase clickability, we've decided to post each category of tips as a separate article. The separate articles will make it easier for readers to read only the tips that benefit them, although we urge you to read as many as you can!


Here are the top five front office tips from practice management experts:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that in order for a dental office to go paperless, you must stop making paper.

Of course that seems so obvious — yet it is the biggest problem most dental offices face when attempting to make the transition from paper charts to electronic records. They often have all the basic elements in place to create paperless records, but they still use paper charts.

Once the system to create all the digital information is in place, you simply stop making paper. Everything new is electronic; everything from the past is paper.

Dr. Larry Emmott


Our role in preventive health is expanding! How we treat our patients and gather information from them will change the way we bill.

When we are submitting a claim form, we must ask these five questions:

1. What level of risk is this patient?

2. What is the patient’s medical history? Are there oral systemic links (diabetes, heart disease)?

3. What are we using to aid in diagnosing our patients?

4. Do we know how to use diagnosis codes?

5. Do we know how to utilize medical forms?

We need to expand our role to help patients maintain their health and wellness in collaboration with their physician. Many therapies are covered by medical insurance.

Christine Taxin

Adjunct Professor, NYU Dental School

[email protected]

A good Office Manager (OM) has the mindset that he or she is an extension of the doctor and is vested in the success of the practice. Doctors should choose this person wisely. Excellent patient care is still the number one priority; however, with continued decreased reimbursement for procedures from insurance companies, there will be fewer allowances for inefficiencies if profit margins are to be maintained. Your OM must be able to hold employees accountable, be good with numbers, and be able to use management reports. You may have the right person, but they might need more training; you may have the wrong person who can cost you tens of thousands of dollars. You decide.

Julie Weir

President, Julie Weir & Associates

[email protected]

Wouldn’t it be nice if every payment arrangement interaction between your office and your patients went smoothly, with no awkwardness or misunderstandings? The truth is, you can make that happen. “Perfect” payment arrangements are possible if you follow these four easy steps:

· Gather information prior to speaking with the patient.

· Prepare where the negotiations will take place — a quiet area with computer access is ideal.

· Don’t hesitate to negotiate.

· Documentation is critical.

Patients should always sign consent forms, as well as a federal truth-in-lending form, which clearly defines the negotiated payment arrangements.

Jan Keller


The new patient experience is also a marketing event. Your new-patient exam provides an optimal opportunity to deepen your relationship with the patient, educate the patient about the services you offer, and ask for a referral. The new patient process is a crucial event in the life cycle of your patient and provides you with a vital opportunity to enhance your relationship.

Sharyn Weiss

Pride Institute


To read more tips from practice management experts, click on the following links:

Clinical I Communication I Financial I Front Office I Having a Vision I Greatest Threat to Dentistry

Scheduling I Patient Relationships I The Staff I Practice Management I Leadership I Marketing