End-of-Year Letters: Scheduling Care Before Benefits Expire

end-of-year letters before benefits expireThis year, both your practice operations and the care received by your patients were interrupted by COVID-19. Then, natural disasters including wildfires and hurricanes caused further disruptions. But neither COVID nor mother nature can stop dental problems worsening, or prevent insurance benefits from expiring at the end of the year. This year, your end-of-year letters are more critical than ever, for both your patients’ oral health and for the financial health of your practice. This post will review the built-in tools in Open Dental to help you send end-of-year letters to your patients before benefits expire.  Together, we’ve got this!

1. Create Your Customized End-of-Year Letters

The end-of-year letter includes patient-specific fields for insurance remaining and a list of treatment planned procedures. To create your end-of-year letter in Open Dental, go to Setup> Sheets. Select Patient Letter Tx Finder, then click the ‘Copy’ button to move it to the Custom side. You likely did this last year and in that case, your customized letter is already on the Custom side. If you’d like to customize it further, open the letter and make your changes.

New to editing sheets? Watch this video:

2. Run the Treatment Finder Report

Go to Reports> Standard. Under Lists, select the Treatment Finder report.

By default, patients with existing appointments and those without insurance are excluded from this report. Use filters to refine the results for patients treatment planned after a certain date, limit to specific clinic or providers, only show specific procedure codes, or patients with remaining benefits over a specific dollar amount. Once you’ve entered the criteria, click Refresh List.
TECH TIP: Click & drag to select multiple patients on the list. If selecting patients that are not adjacent, hold down the Ctrl key while you click to select.end-of-year letters

3. Create Your End-Of-Year Letters

Option 1: Create the letters inside Open Dental and print.
Once you have a list of the patients that meet the criteria (from Step 2), select the patients you want to create letters for, then click the Letters Preview button in the lower-left of the window (in the blue outlined section shown above). Then, select the end-of-year letter you have prepared.

Option 2: Use mail merge in another program like Microsoft Word or use a third-party email service to send a mass email (more details on this below).
Simply export the list from Step 2 as a .txt or .xls file, and use that as the source for the mail merge.

Option 3: Print mailing labels for letters created outside of Open Dental.
Select the patients you want to create labels for, then click the Labels Preview button to view the labels before printing.

4. Print and Mail the End-Of-Year Letters to Your Patients

Once the preview comes up for your letters or labels, just hit print, and get those letters out in the mail! For letters, a PDF will be created that includes letters for all selected patients (similar to billing statements). Review the PDF, then print. After letters are printed, you’ll get a pop-up asking if you’d like to save the letter. Click yes to save a copy in your patient’s chart.

It’s truly a win-win! Your patients get the care they need and use the benefits they have available, you fill your schedule and end the year on a high note!

Need more information on this process? Take a look at our online manual page on this process, and let us know if you need help – we’re here for you 🙂

Looking to send a mass email to your patients?

The Mass Email feature in Open Dental was recently released but has not been integrated with the year-end letter process quite yet. So for now, if you want to mass email the letters, you’ll need to use a third-party email provider. There are many email service providers out there, and some are inexpensive. We use MailChimp for our user newsletters, and here’s a link to some others to considerIf you have questions about the third-party email software (creating the letter, inserting merge fields, uploading lists, etc.), please contact the software vendor directly.

To send a mass email of end-of-year letters using a third-party email service, you’ll take the following basic steps. 

  1. Create your letter inside the third-party email provider’s software, including any preferred merge fields for insurance amount remaining, etc.
  2. The Treatment Finder Report does not include email information, so you will need to copy & run Query number 1111 from our Query Examples page.
    Watch this video for exactly how to do this!

3. Use the list you exported from Open Dental as the data source for your email campaign.

Reminder: If you have questions about the third-party email software (creating the email campaign, inserting merge fields, uploading lists, etc.), please contact the software vendor.

If you have questions about sending year-end letters or anything else in Open Dental, we’re here for you! A quick question can be answered right away using chat, and if you need help troubleshooting or need us to remote-connect with you, give us a call.

4 replies »

  1. The treatment finder really needs to have one more field… current patient/family balance. Otherwise you might be trying to ask patient to schedule treatment, even if that patient has a large balance. Can that be added ASAP?

  2. Oh dear. There is currently a bug on the pateint tx finder sheet. If a patient has lots of treatment plan procedures, rather than going on to the next page, the whole first page just duplicates. I spoke with a technician about this on Wednesday and I have not been informed that it has been resolved yet.

    • Hi Amanda – thank you for bringing this issue to our attention. Our engineers are currently working on a fix. Bug fixes can be a few days to a few weeks depending on complexity, but we will contact you as soon as a fix is in place. Thank you, we will be in touch soon.

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