Open Dental

Open Dental Features for Your More Difficult Patients

difficult patients

One of the hard truths of dentistry is that you will get a variety of patients in the office. We all have our favorite patients, those who arrive on time, floss every day, pay their bills in full, and schedule their next appointment before they’re out the door. (At least, we hope we all have patients like that!) But, the reality is you will have difficult patients who show up late for every appointment, have balances 90+ days overdue, or are just overall unpleasant to work with. In this post we’ll discuss features that will help your more difficult patients arrive on time, pay their bills, and ways to stealthily note patient challenges that may require careful handling.


For patients who have a tendency to arrive late, set a reminder to arrive early.

In the Edit Patient Information window, set a number of minutes in the Ask To Arrive Early field.

difficult patients

When scheduling an appointment, the user will be prompted to remind the patient to arrive early.

When using eReminders or eConfirmations, you can opt to include a [ApptTimeAskedArrive] field that will send the early arrival time as a reminder. (i.e. if their appointment is at noon, the eReminder/eConfirmation will display 11:45am instead).

Tech Tip: By setting an Ask to Arrive Early time at the patient level, all appointments will prompt for the early arrival. You can also enter this for an individual appointment on the Edit Appointment window (e.g. for a new patient who needs paperwork).

Restrict patients from scheduling an appointment

If you need to restrict a patient from scheduling an appointment, check Appointment scheduling is restricted in the Edit Patient Information window.

difficult patients

This can be useful if the patient has a large outstanding balance that needs to be paid, or if you have terminated your relationship with the patient.

If an office staff member attempts to schedule the patient, they will get a warning and be unable to continue scheduling the appointment.

Patients with restricted appointment scheduling are also restricted from creating Web Sched appointments online.

Disable Recall

Disable recall for patients so they are removed from the Recall List. This can be done permanently, or until a specific date or account balance is met.

In the Family module Recall grid, double-click into the patient’s recall item.

difficult patients

Broken Appointments

If your practice charges a broken appointment fee for missed or canceled appointments, set your Appointments Module preferences to automatically post the fee. Fees can be assigned as a procedure or as an adjustment.
See more in our online manual on handling broken appointments.

Balance Due

For patients being sent to collections

If your patient has an outstanding balance being sent to collections, update their billing type accordingly.

This notifies users of the status of the patient’s account.

Tech Tip: Create an Automation Event to trigger a popup when patients with a specific billing type are selected or have an appointment scheduled.

Taking Notes

Many practices use odontogram notes to document patients’ hobbies and interests.

However, because Chart Module is often visible when charting patient treatment, this is not the best place to document patient issues that may need special handling.

Instead, create a Patient Field Def to document notes for difficult patients. Patient Field Defs can be hidden from the Chart Module and only visible from the Family Module, where it’s less likely to be seen.

Open Dental was designed to help you manage patient care for all of your patients. If you need help with these or any other tools in the software, please feel free to reach out.

Categories: Open Dental, Tips & Tricks

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