Tips & Tricks

New Employee Training: New Patient Workflow in Open Dental

Joining a new dental practice can be overwhelming for a new employee. Especially if the new employee is not familiar with the programs you use, such as Open Dental. In this post, we’ll discuss the basic workflow in Open Dental to welcome new patients to your practice. Follow the chart below, then keep reading for details.

1. New Patient Calls In

When a patient first reaches out to schedule their appointment, first search to see if they already exist in the database.

Start by clicking Select Patient (or Ctrl+P), then search by first name, last name, or any other criteria. If no patient exists, click Add Pt. Alternatively, click Add Many if you are adding multiple patients in the same family.

If the patient already exists, they’ve likely contacted the practice in the past. Simply double-click them from the list to use the existing patient account.

In the Edit Patient Information window enter patient details and contact information. You can come back to this window later, so you only need to enter the vital information first, such as name, date of birth, and contact information.

Tech Tip: If utilizing integrated text messaging, ask the patient to approve text messages and set their Text OK status to Yes. This will prompt you to send an Opt-In text so that the patient can be sent appointment reminders, confirmations, and more.

2. Schedule the Appointment

Now that the patient record has been created, you can schedule their appointment.

Double-click on an available spot in the Appointments Module to create an appointment. Alternatively, move the appointment to the Pinboard to quickly find available appointment times. The Appointment Search allows you to narrow openings by patient availability, such as afternoons.

3. Verify Insurance Information

Gather insurance information from your patient prior to the appointment and contact the carrier via phone or through the carrier’s website to verify benefits and eligibility. Alternatively, if you’re signed up with a compatible clearinghouse, you can verify benefits and eligibility electronically through Open Dental.

4. New Patient (Intake) Paperwork

There are numerous ways patients can fill out their paperwork. From digital to good ol’ pen and paper, we’ll cover the more common scenarios.

Your practice can utilize the default Sheets available in Open Dental (you can even create copies to customize), create your own sheets or if you have an existing form that you’d like to convert to sheets, you can submit a Custom Sheet Request to our Form Design team who will provide a quote (prices will vary).

Online Web Forms

Web Forms is a service available to all Open Dental customers on support at no additional charge that allows your patients to fill out Medical History and other Patient Forms online through a link you provide to them without having to come into the office. This means they can fill out all their intake forms prior to their appointment and save time once they’re at the office.

Web Forms are generic, so customized forms (e.g., consent) cannot be filled out or signed using this feature and patient information does not appear on the forms when patients are filling them out.


eClipboard is an eServices app that allows patients to check in for appointments and more. The app is generally installed on an in-office mobile tablet, but offices can also allow patients to utilize eClipboard through BYOD using the patient’s own mobile device.

Your practice can set up sheets that always show up when a patient checks in for their appointment, and staff can queue up specific sheets for the particular patient, unlike Web Forms. Patients will fill out paperwork after arriving and checking in for their appointment.


Kiosk can be utilized on a computer or tablet (meeting Hardware Requirements) to allow patients to fill out queued-up paperwork once they have arrived in the office.

From another computer, staff will load forms to the Kiosk for the specific patient using the Kiosk Manager, so customized forms (e.g., consent) can be filled out from the Kiosk and forms will display patient information.


If you or the patient like to stick with pen and paper, you can do that too! From the patient’s account, simply click Forms, +Add, select the Sheet you want the patient to fill out and click OK, then click Print.

5. Enter Patient Information

Now that your patient has filled out their paperwork, you can enter their information. If they’ve filled out their paperwork digitally, you can easily import information from the Forms window.

To import information from a form:

  1. Select the patient and click Forms from the toolbar
  2. Select the form to import.
  3. Click Import.
  4. Review the information to import.
    • Click the Do Import box to change whether or not an item will be imported.
    • Double-click any items labeled “double click to pick” to choose the import value.
    • Verify the Entered Value (what is currently in your database) against the Import Value (what is typed into the form).
  5. Once you are ready to import, click Import
    • All values with an X in the Do Import column will be imported into the database. If there was an Entered Value this will be overwritten by the Import Value

If the patient filled out their forms by hand or you don’t want to import electronic forms, then you’ll want to enter the information manually. Enter contact and insurance information from the Family Module and medical information from the Medical section of the Chart Module.

Tech Tip: Make sure to set the patient’s Preferred Contact Methods in Edit Patient Information. This will determine what contact information is used in certain reports, eServices, the Recall List, and more.

6. Meet the Patient

Now you’re ready to meet with your patient and see them for their first appointment! Back office staff can utilize Auto Notes to streamline chart notes for New Patient appointments by creating a note template to make sure nothing is missed.

Once the patient is ready to head out, make sure to set their appointment complete and schedule their next recall appointment. From the Appointments Module, click Make Recall.

A new appointment with the patient’s recall procedures will be created on the Pinboard. As long as the schedule is set up, the calendar will also be moved out after the patient’s Recall Due Date and days with available openings will be displayed in the Openings in View list. Once you find a date and time that works for your patient, click and drag the appointment to an operatory to schedule.

Collecting all the important information upfront will help you maximize the tools in the software to communicate effectively, present accurate estimates for care, and provide a great patient experience overall. If you need help, please get in touch with us – we’re here for you!

2 replies »

  1. Your blog is comprehensive and well-written, as it addresses almost every facet of the skills that will be in high demand.

A penny for your thoughts...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.