Tips & Tricks

Help as You Re-Open Your Practice


Like many businesses, you are likely planning to re-open your practice soon. In this post, we’ll offer some help for screening your patients, filling your schedule, and updating your fees as you bring your office up to full capacity.

Screening Patients Before Treatment

You will likely be screening patients before seating them to ensure the health and safety of your staff and other patients.

The ADA has provided a COVID-19 Patient Screening Form to use as you re-open your practices. This is now available as a Sheet in Open Dental in versions 19.4.40 (Stable) and 20.1.18 (Beta) and greater. Update your software today to begin using this sheet, it will be called Dental Patient Screening Form.

See the recommended workflow and several options for getting this form to your patients before their visit on our COVID Screening page.

If you will be taking a patient’s temperature, consider adding an Appointment Field so you can quickly record and view patient temperature information in Open Dental.
See our Web Manual or watch the QuickTip Video for the steps to add this field.

Filling Your Schedule

You probably have multiple weeks’ worth of appointments that had to be canceled due to COVID-19. Now that your office will be re-opening, it’s important to find those patients and re-schedule them.

If you left those patients on the schedule, go into the days you had these appointments on the schedule. As you contact each patient, simply move the appointment to the new date and time using the pinboard.

If you had moved those appointments to the Unscheduled List, you can filter the list and re-schedule based on priority (e.g. only reschedule patients with a certain procedure or provider).

Once you’ve rescheduled your canceled appointments, think about scheduling patients with outstanding treatment. Run the Treatment Finder Report to find patients with treatment needed and have insurance benefits remaining.

Incentivizing Patients to Come In

Your patients may have lost their insurance coverage and may need some financial incentive to get the care they need. Or you may be considering a special promotion to bring in new patients to your practice. There are a couple ways to handle these situations in Open Dental.

Discount Plans can be offered to patients without insurance.
Create a fee schedule with the discounted prices, then associate that fee schedule with the Discount Plan.
Open the patient’s insurance plan and click Drop, then click on ‘Discount Plan’ in the menu bar to add the discount plan instead. Patients will pay the discounted rate, and you can track the discount using adjustments.

If you are considering a new patient promotion, such as a $99 New Patient Exam, you have two options.

Option 1: Create a procedure code specific to the promotion. This option is best if you want to track patients who received the promotion.

  1. Create a new procedure code for the promotion. Enter the promotional fee in the fee schedule.
  2. Chart the procedure code for the promotion.
  3. Chart the procedures related to the promotion and zero out the fee for each.
  4. When the procedures are set complete, the fee is charged on the Promo Code, but the related procedures will still show.

Option 2. Use adjustments. This option is best if you want to track the discount.

  1. Chart all procedures at the full fee and set them complete.
  2. Add adjustments to each procedure so that the total matches the promotional price.

Updating Fees

The ADA has stated the cost of Personal Protective Equipment and enhanced infection control protocols may cause higher prices for dental care.

If you are increasing your office fees, see our QuickTip Video: Updating your UCR Fees.

The ADA has noted that D1999 can be used if you are billing for PPE.
If you want a different description to show for patients, or you want to track PPE specifically, simply create a new procedure code in Open Dental (i.e. D1999.1). Since only the first 5 characters of a procedure code send on a claim, it won’t affect your claim but will still allow you to track and report on the usage of this code separately using the Procedures Report.

To create a code in Open Dental, go to Lists > Procedure Codes > +New.


While the prospect of re-opening your practice is exciting, you may have concerns or questions about the best Open Dental tools to use to ramp up operations. Don’t worry, we’re here for you – please feel free to reach out if you have any questions as you re-open your practice. 

1 reply »

A penny for your thoughts...

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