Planning for Year-End: Getting Patients Scheduled Before Benefits Expire

year-end planning
Updated 10/4/22

Whether this year has felt slow or fast, we hope it has been a great one for your practice! Incredibly, there are only a few short months left until insurance benefits expire (for many of your patients). This post will review the steps to use the Treatment Finder Report to find patients that have unscheduled treatment, and create personalized year-end letters to send by mail, or use a third party to send a general message by mass email. Together, we’ve got this!

Mail Personalized Year-End Letters

Customizing a Sheet and mailing year-end letters is a great option if you want to include patient-specific information in the letter, like the amount of insurance remaining, and a list of treatment planned procedures so patients see exactly what they need, and the money they’d be giving up if they don’t use their insurance benefit.

1. Create your customized year-end letters

To create your year-end letter in Open Dental, go to Setup, then Sheets. Check to see if the Patient Letter Tx Finder is under Custom on the right (if it’s already been edited, it’ll be on this side). If not, select it from under Internal, then click the ‘Copy’ button to move it to the Custom side.

The standard year-end letter in Open Dental includes patient-specific fields for insurance remaining and a list of treatment planned procedures. To customize the letter, double-click it from the Custom side to open it, and make your changes.

New to editing sheets?
Watch our Sheets II: Sheets Customization webinar or give us a call for help.

2. Run the Treatment Finder Report

Go to Reports, then Standard. Under Lists, select Treatment Finder.

By default, patients with existing appointments and those without insurance are excluded from this report. In the View section, use the filters to refine the results for patients that had treatment charted after a certain date, limit them to a specific clinic or provider, only show specific procedure codes, or patients with remaining benefits over a specific dollar amount. Once you’ve entered the criteria, click Refresh List to update the results in the Treatment Finder grid. Want to learn more about the filters? See our post, A Deep Dive Into the Treatment Finder Report.

For more information on the Treatment Finder Report, refer to our User Manual or watch our Treatment Finder Report Webinar.

3. Create Your Year-End 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), it’s time to choose who you want to create letters for.
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. Once you’ve selected the patients you’re sending letters to, click the Letters Preview button in the lower-left of the window (in the blue outlined section shown above). Then, select the year-end letter you have prepared.

Option 2: Use another program, like Microsoft Word, to do a mail merge
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 or other mailings 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 Year-End Letters to Your Patients

You’ve selected your recipients, and clicked Letters Preview or Label Preview. Once the preview comes up, just hit print! For letters, a PDF will be created that includes letters for all selected patients (similar to billing statements). Review the PDF, then print. After the 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.

Mass Email Year-End Letters

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 quite affordable. 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 year-end letters using a third-party email service, you’ll take the following basic steps.  For questions about the third-party email software (creating the letter, inserting merge fields, uploading lists, etc.), please contact the software vendor directly.

  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 1221 from our Query Examples page, and export it.

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.

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