Open Dental

Open Dental Setup for Startup Practices: The Five Essentials

SetupWhen you’re setting up a new practice, you want to be sure you’re building the proper foundation from the start. The proper setup helps minimize disruptions to your workflow and help prevent time-consuming and costly fixes down the road. To help start-up practices, we’ve created the General Setup of a Blank Database Checklist – it’s a deep dive into all the areas you’ll want to get set up. In this post, we’ll be focusing on five areas of Open Dental you’ll want to attend to before you start seeing patients. (If you are converting from another software, you’ll want to start by contacting us. We offer a free trial conversion so you can see your own data in Open Dental before you schedule your final conversion. Once you’ve converted your database, our team will work with you during a 2-hour setup session to get you started on the right foot.)

Here are the Open Dental Setup Essentials

1. Bridges

You can link Open Dental to other software you use within your practice. We call these links “bridges”, and all you need to do is set up a Program Link. You can even add a clickable button or menu option that launches the program. Go to Setup> Program Links, and find the software, then enable that link in the location you want.

setup clearinghouse

More details on this can be found on our Program Links manual page.

With bridges, you can:

  • Connect your imaging software.
  • Connect other third-party software you use for credit card processing, insurance verification, reviews, etc.

2. Clearinghouses

You will need to set up your Clearinghouse in the software before you can send electronic claims. Do this by going to Setup> Family/Insurance> Clearinghouses.


3. Providers, Operatories, and Schedules

Setting up Providers, Operatories, and Schedules allows automatic assignment of treatment (production) to the correct provider, and calculation of production goals. Once Provider Schedules are set up, you’ll be able to search for future appointments by Provider, and use the Make Recall button to quickly schedule the patient’s next recall appointment. Operatories and Schedules must be set up if you would like to use Web Sched eServices that allow patients to schedule their own appointments online.

You will need to set up your dentists and hygienists as Providers in Open Dental before you start seeing patients. Follow the steps in our manual to create a Provider, then assign that provider to a user profile, and that User to the proper User Group so they have the permissions they will need in Open Dental.
Please note: Each person using Open Dental in your practice will need their own user profile with a unique password.

4. Fee Schedules

You will want to create a fee schedule for your Usual Customary and Reasonable (UCR) fees and for each insurance company you are contracted with. A fee schedule can allow a single (global) fee per procedure, or allow Provider and/or Clinic-specific fees. Fee schedules allow you to provide more accurate estimates for your patients so they know their estimated financial responsibility before treatment.

Prefer a quick tutorial? Our two QuickTip videos, Creating a New Fee Schedule and Editing Fees in a Fee Schedule will cover the basics in just a couple of minutes!

5. Time Clock

The Time Clock feature in Open Dental allows Employees to clock in and out of work.

To use this feature, you will need to first:

  1. Add employees by going to Lists> Employees.
  2. Create user profiles for each employee. If they already have user profiles, you’ll need to connect the Employee to the correct User. Follow the steps on our User Edit page.
    setup employee
  3. Add pay periods in Time Card Setup.
    setup time card

These are the 5 main things you’ll really want to look at getting set up before you start seeing patients. Be sure to use our comprehensive checklist which will go deeper into the setup that’s needed for smooth sailing from the start. If you need help at all, we’re here for you – please reach out!

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