Patient Communication

Automation for Better Patient AND Practice Health

AutomationYou got into Dentistry because you care about your patients, not because you wanted to spend your day doing paperwork and making phone calls. Automation of repetitive tasks can boost efficiency & productivity, and provide a more consistent work and process flow, which has a direct impact on patient experience. When patients have a consistent, thorough, caring experience at your practice, it builds trust, and that positively impacts case acceptance, retention, referrals, and practice growth!

Benefits of Automating Processes:

  1. Save Time: Automation of repeated tasks improves productivity and efficiency.
  2. Process consistency prevents errors and omissions: Auto-generated documents and communication prevent human error and missed steps.
  3. Improve patient experience: Patients have a consistent, positive experience, and feel well cared-for. This lays the foundation for a lasting relationship.

Options Inside Open Dental that Automate Processes:

Module Preferences:

Appointment Module: Broken appointment automation – when an appointment is marked as broken, settings determine if a commlog and/or adjustment is posted to the patient’s account.

Treatment Plan Module: auto-saving signed treatment plans to the images module – when a treatment plan is saved, a setting determines if a PDF copy is saved to the treatment plan folder in the images module. Insurance frequency checking – enable frequency checking on Bitewing, Pano/FMX and Exam codes you specify.

Automation Tools (See Automation, below): Auto-generate pop-ups, patient letters and more.

Sales Tax: Percentages are calculated, and charges are automatically added to the patient ledger.

Discount Plans: For uninsured patients with discount plans, discount adjustments post automatically to the patient ledger (discounts manually applied to treatment planned procedures also post discount adjustments automatically when set complete).

Task Reminders: Set up reminders that pop up when they are due so routine tasks aren’t overlooked.

Auto-Ortho Claim Tool: Automatically creates periodic orthodontic claims for the indicated number of intervals.


eServices Tools that Automate Processes:

FREE eReminders: Send automated email or text* reminders to patients with upcoming appointments.

eConfirmations: Send automated email or text confirmations of upcoming appointments according to the timing you specify. Patients can reply to confirm, or use the link to confirm online. When they confirm, their appointment status is instantly updated in the Appointment schedule. (The fee for this service includes integrated texting access.)

Web Sched Recall: Send automated email or text* recall reminders to patients. Patients can follow the link to schedule their recall appointments online, and their appointment will appear instantly in the Appointment schedule! (The fee for this service does not include integrated texting – sign up separately for texting access.)

*Requires integrated texting

eServices (except where indicated) have monthly fees. Sign up for the eServices Bundle to get ALL eServices for one low monthly rate.


Automation Tools in Open Dental:

  • Automatically create a pop up warning for a patient who has a specific allergy or condition.
  • Automatically generate patient instructions when a specific procedure is completed (like an extraction, where a post-op letter is created).
  • Automatically generate a letter when a patient misses their appointment.
  • Automatically generate a “thank you for the referral” letter to a referral source when a new patient schedules their first appointment.
  • Restrict appointment scheduling when a patient’s billing type is set to a specific type (like pre-collections or collections).

Triggers for automation can be:

  • CompleteProcedure: When a procedure is set complete. See below to specify procedure(s).
  • BreakAppointment: When an appointment is broken.
  • CreateApptNewPat: When an appointment is created for a patient with no appointment history (new patient).
  • OpenPatient: When a patient’s record is opened/selected.
  • CreateAppt: When an appointment of any type is created.
  • ScheduleProcedure: When a specific procedure is scheduled. See below to specifiy procedure(s).
  • SetBillingType: When a billing type changes (Edit Patient Information window).


The best part of automation is that once it’s set up, the process runs on its own, allowing you and your staff to focus on nurturing your patient relationships. Automation also makes office processes more consistent, which can be especially helpful as you hire and train new staff! Many of the automation tools in Open Dental are a result of Feature Requests submitted and voted on by users like you. If there are other areas in the software that could benefit from automation, please submit or vote on a Feature Request!

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