Checklist before seeing your First Patient in your Dental Startup Office

Here’s a checklist of things that should be helpful for you before you see your first patient in your very own startup dental office.

There are tons of other things that need to be done before you see your first patient, but to keep this list focused – I’m not going to include things related to construction and design.

I’m going to assume you’re done with the design and construction of the office, and your IT is already in place.

To make it easier, I’ve made available a printable checklist for you to reference in PDF format.

Practice Management Software Checklist

  • Make sure your appointment(s) on the schedule have correct procedure codes attached
  • Xray software bridge: Make sure it’s set up correctly, so patient’s chart is linked to patient’s xrays on the xray software.
  • Electronic claims / Attachments software is set up to bridge with your PMS (Practice Management Software), so you can generate & submit claims with a click of a button.

If the patient on schedule has insurance, ensure the following things are in place:

  • Fee schedule that insurance is entered into the PMS
  • Patient’s insurance is verified and coverage %s are entered into the PMS to make sure proper estimates are calculated when presenting treatment plans.
  • Correct fee schedule is attached to the patient’s insurance – You should’ve entered all your in-network insurance fee scheduled into your PMS, so to make sure estimates are calculated properly, correct fee schedule should be attached to that patient’s insurance.
  • Your Scheduling Coordinator / Receptionist should be aware of any out-of-pocket (OOP) $ responsibility for the patient(s) prior to their visit
  • Your patient should also be aware of any out-of-pocket(OOP) $ responsibility to avoid surprises. Since your team may be verifying insurance after getting the information from the initial phone call with the patient – quoting of the OOP should be done preferably during the check-in process before the patient is seated in the dental chair to avoid any surprises during the check-out process.

Patients without Insurance

  • If the patient on schedule does NOT have insurance, make sure they’re aware of your office fees for their initial visit. This should be done preferably during the initial phone conversation with the patient.
  • In-office Membership Plan:
    • If you’re offering such a plan in your practice, your team should’ve informed the patient of this during the initial phone conversation.
    • Patients should be informed of their OOP to join the membership plan during their first visit – this should also be preferably done during the initial phone conversation.
    • Membership Plan Sign-up Form: keep this form simple and limit it to one page.
      • The form should tell the patient the benefits of joining the plan and any fine prints.
      • Make sure to include the date the patient has joined, as well as their signature on the form, and save/scan the form into the patient’s chart

Patient Forms

  • New patient registration forms
  • Consent forms
    • Even if you don’t have all your consent forms set up already at this point, you should plan to have Root Canal Treatment consent form and the Extraction consent form ready since you may be doing these procedures to handle patient emergencies.
  • Financial Policy & Financial arrangement / agreement forms
    • Financial Policy should be part of the New Patient Registration forms and all patients should be reviewing it so they’re aware of your policies when it comes to finances and insurance
    • Financial arrangement / agreement form should list what treatment patients (without creating a BIG ITEMIZED LIST) need and how the payments are to be arranged.
    • Review the detailed post on Patient Financial Policies & Payment Options
    • Review the detailed post on Financial Arrangement and Treatment Planning

Patient Communication

  • Make sure to have a way to remind patients of their appointments either via email and/or text.
  • Utilize your VOIP phone system’s built-in capability of texting patients manually and text and remind them of their appointments – It isn’t necessary to have a full-fledged 3rd party Appointment Reminder solution. Most VOIP solutions have this feature to text patients.

Patient Check-Out

  • Credit Card Terminal to accept payments: as simple as it sounds, make sure your team is trained to use it properly and mark the payments into the PMS
  • Make sure your team is trained to print out a statement of services, or send the statement via email if a patient asks.
  • If a patient needs work and is scheduled for an appointment to come back, make sure a signed financial agreement form is attached to the patient’s chart. If it’s something simple like few restorations and a crown, you can also just simply print the treatment plan off of the PMS and have the patient sign that also)
  • If a patient is only coming back for recall, make sure an appropriate recall schedule is set up for that patient (whether that patient is to come back for 6 months or 4 months) – because this way you’ll be able to utilize the PMS to run reports to find out who’s due.
  • Your team should be pre-appointing EVERY patient with their next appointment – whether it’s for recall and/or for their next scheduled procedure.