When a new patient registers in a dental practice, they provide the practice with details that will direct the team on how to collect and bill the patient after services are rendered. This registration information will include details for the head of house (guarantor), insurance subscriber, family members and other relations. When changes to patient registration are reported, the staff must apply those changes to the account in a way that will promote proper billing to ensure payments are received without delay.

Maintaining accurate patient records is a critical task that can be challenging when special situations arise. Situations where children reach adulthood and acquire financial independence, divorce, marriage, or even split billing with shared insurance can require added setup to accomplish the correct billing for your patients.

In my time as a certified trainer, I have witnessed a wide variety of techniques employed by dental offices when it comes to the setup of unique billing scenarios. In fact, a few year ago I walked into a scenario where the office made the decision to create an individual patient file for every single patient without linking family members. The goal with this setup was to create billing statements for each person individually. The setup of each individual person as a single file worked for some time, then the office incurred a staffing change and noticed the workflow to setup and maintain this level of accounting was very difficult. It was at this time the team decided to begin the project of merging accounts to create families.

Due to previous standards for patient registration, the office not only found themselves combining accounts, but also working to eliminate a large number of duplicate non-patients that were acting as insurance subscribers. This project of merging patient files and eliminating unnecessary non-patients required a special tool available in Easy Dental – Edit Family Relations.

To editing family relations to split or join patients/families:

    1. Define the time – Choose a time when no patients are being seen (lunch, before or after patient care, etc.). The process to edit family relations requires that Easy Dental be closed on all workstations. Additionally, having a current backup of your database is strongly encouraged.
    2. Access Edit Family Relations – From the Patient module, locate and select the Edit menu, then choose Family Relations.
    3. From the Edit Family dialog box, click to highlight the family member you want to move, then select Family 2.
    4. The Select Family dialog box will appear. You can choose an existing family or create a New Family.

      • When an existing family is selected, the Edit Family dialog box will display Family 1 and Family 2. Simply highlight the family member to move, then select the appropriate directional arrow to move them. Then click OK to save your changes.
      • When New Family is selected, the Edit Family dialog box appears with an empty Family 2. Select the family member that you want to move, use the directional arrow to move them to Family 2, and click OK to save.
    5. Finally, once all patient moves are complete for the family, review patient and family account balances for accuracy. Create offsetting adjustments to correct patient balances as needed.

Special Notes & Diving Deeper

  • To edit family relations, the family cannot have open insurance claims. All open claims must be closed or removed from the account in order to proceed with changes.

    **Note: If you remove claims from the account, you must recreate the claims in the new account.**
  • The Head of House cannot be removed from the family until all other family members are moved, or the Head of House is reassigned.
  • Special Adjustments will appear to correct patient balances when past payments were applied to the Guarantor. Special Adjustments cannot be modified or deleted. Additional offsetting adjustments may be required to correct patient balances.
  • When the insurance subscriber is moved to another family, the insurance coverage for dependents will be cleared.

Accurate account setup is critical to efficient patient billing. With the ability to move patients from one family to the next, you have a great tool for maintaining patient records/history all while ensuring the financial billing is correct. Please share any thoughts, questions or ideas with us in the comments section below.

David Broom is Senior Director of Product and Business Development. David has a master’s degree in Information Technology (IT) from the University of Texas in Dallas and has more than 35 years of experience from many global companies such as Hitachi Vantara, Methode Electronics, and Keane, Inc. In his current role, he is responsible for all aspects of the product management and field service teams at Henry Schein TechCentral, which identifies the ideal advanced technologies to meet the unique needs of the dental market and ensure that dental offices are using the right IT to be more efficient and effective.