Feature Highlight

Feature Highlight: Automation

You 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, provide a more consistent work and process flow, and directly impact the 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! In this post, we’ll talk about why you want to automate, the settings in Open Dental that automate functions, and the tools in Open Dental that automate processes.

Why Automate?

  1. Save Time: Automation of repeated tasks improves productivity and efficiency.
  2. A consistent process 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, trust relationship.

Settings 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: 

Other Settings that automate processes:

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

Tools that Automate Processes


  • Automatically create a popup 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
  • 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.
  • SetBillingType: When a billing type changes (Edit Patient Information window).

Other Tools that automate processes:

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).

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

Task Reminders: Set up reminders so the task pops up when it is due so it doesn’t get missed.

eServices that Automate Processes:

  • Automated Messaging allows the office to communicate with patients by setting up routine messages. Automated Messaging includes:
    • eReminders – Remind patients of their upcoming appointments. Reminders can be sent via email at no additional cost, or sent via text when Integrated Texting is enabled.
    • eConfirmations – Confirm patient appointments automatically via text or email. When a patient responds to the message, their appointment status automatically updates to Confirmed. The fee for this service includes Integrated Texting access.
    • Automated Thank-Yous – Automatically send a thank-you message to patients when they have scheduled their appointment. Thank-yous can be sent via email at no additional cost or sent via text when Integrated Texting is enabled. When used with eConfirmations, patients have the option of adding the appointment to the calendar on their device.
    • General Messages – Send the patient a message after their appointment has been completed. This message can be a simple “Thank you for visiting” or invite them to leave a review of their visit. General messages can be sent via email at no additional cost or sent via text when Integrated Texting is enabled.

  • 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!
  • Patient Portal Invites – Send an email to patients before or after their appointment, inviting them to utilize Patient Portal.

*eServices have monthly fees. Sign up for the eServices Bundle to get ALL eServices for one low monthly rate.

The best part of automating is that once it’s set up, the processes run on their 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. Comment below with your thoughts on other areas in the software that would benefit from automation – we’ll let you know if there’s a feature request that could use your support!

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