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suzanne
Canine III

Alphabetizing Patient Names with Suffixes

Is there a "best practices" guideline on how best to enter patient names when they have suffixes, such as Jr, Sr, or I, II, III?  In order for the names to show up correctly on printed statements, we have to enter last names as "Johnson, Jr" and Johnson, Sr". However, when patients call in, they don't usually say this is "XX Johnson Junior".  And since the Johnson section is rather large, we end up entering duplicate patients because the Scheduling Coordinator can't find the original patient.  Needless to say, consolidating patients after x-rays have been taken is not fun.  So we're trying to minimize the duplicate patient syndrome.  A similar situation happens with nicknames.  Sometimes the patient calls in and refers to him/herself as "Given Name," other times as "Nickname".  I've noticed some staff actually putting the nickname in quotes right after the First Name, such as... Jennifer"Jenny"...with no spaces, and leaving the Nickname blank.  I see problems in our future.  Help!

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vrodriguez
Canine III

Re: Alphabetizing Patient Names with Suffixes

Good afternoon Suzanne. 

When it comes to billing statements, keep in mind that it is the account holder/guarantor that receives the statements so the first step in to ensure that you are working within the account screen and not the patient screen

By utilizing the "title" box, you can enter prefixes ie., Mr. Mrs. etc. For suffixes, you can enter it after their last name. Below is an example of how the account holder would be setup and appear on a billing statement. 

As far as patients with duplicate names, that can pose a bit of a challenge. If the patient has a common name such as Donald Johnson and both patients go by Don, you can enter that as a nickname on the patient info screen which will in turn display on the patient list screen via list>>patient, however you will then have two Don's as well. In this case, the best practice would be to verify the address of the patient to ensure that you are working with the correct one. 

I hope this helps. If you have additional questions, please let us know. Thank you

doctom4300
Premolar III

Re: Alphabetizing Patient Names with Suffixes

We verify patients - whether or not we have duplicate names - by asking for their date of birth. Using the address is a good idea, too, but won't help if Jr and Sr both live at the same address.

You need to instruct your staff to put the nickname in the nickname field. And as you come upon patients with the nickname in quotes in the first name field, change it. Whatever is in the first name is going to print on both prescriptions and claims. If the patient has insurance, you definitely want their given name in the first name field so that it will match insurance. You won't want that extra information in the name field when filing with insurance. So much of claims processing is done by computer, and a computer isn't going to match Jennifer"Jenny" with Jennifer. You might get a denial saying that the patient can't be identified.

When we print chart labels for patients with nicknames, we hand write the nickname on the label.

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suzanne
Canine III

Re: Alphabetizing Patient Names with Suffixes

Yes Victor, this is how we have been entering patient names so that it prints correctly on statements and reports.  However, since Softdent alphabetizes the name list based on last name, the Johnson II's or Johnson Sr's get placed at the bottom of the list.  Since we have a couple screenfulls worth of patients named Johnson, sometimes staff don't scroll down to the bottom of the list to find the patients with suffixes, so we end up with duplicate patients.  Since this seems to be such a problem in our office with 20,000+ patients, I was just wondering if anyone else was having this problem and found an efficient way around it.  I wonder if adding an additional field for the suffix would be possible, and then concatenating that field to the end of the name when printing statements, reports, insurance claims, etc. 

We seem to have the same problem with names that have spaces or apostrophes in them.  Orourke, O Rourke, and O'Rourke are on different screens.  I've resorted to a "cheat sheet" of how alphabetizing works. LOL

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suzanne
Canine III

Re: Alphabetizing Patient Names with Suffixes

Thank you, Brenda.  That is a great reason to enforce the nickname field--for insurance claims. 

And I'm not sure why, but we have more and more patients that don't want to give us their birth year or SSN, especially if they are uninsured.  Some patients have said we don't need that information, or even their medical history, just to work in their mouths.  Have you experienced this trend?

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doctom4300
Premolar III

Re: Alphabetizing Patient Names with Suffixes

We've had patients reluctant to give their SSN over the phone, but they'll provide it in person. I wish MetLife would stop using the SSN as the ID: patient's don't want to provide it over the phone (which is not unreasonable, in my opinion), and I don't want to schedule a new patient without verifying their insurance.

I've not had anyone reluctant to give their birth date.

I don't know if it's a Florida law or a national law, but in order to send someone to collections, you need at least their full birthdate, if not their SSN. My cynical and suspicious mind thinks that maybe those people know about this, don't plan to pay for their treatment, and don't want you to be able to send them to collections when they default.

If a patient insisted that we didn't need that info, I would require payment up front. Even if they have insurance, I would require full payment and we can reimburse them after insurance pays. Of course, you can't file insurance without a date of birth, so I guess that'd be a moot point. (Does anyone else now have Joey Tribbiana in their head saying, "The point's moo. It's like a cow's opinion: it doesn't matter.")

We had one patient not want to provide their medical history. Our doctor will not treat a patient if we don't have their medical history. Some medical things affect dental treatment. The majority of our patients do not have a dental degree, nor a medical degree, so they are not qualified to judge whether or not that information is necessary. 

suzanne
Canine III

Re: Alphabetizing Patient Names with Suffixes

Brenda, I completely understand what you (and Joey) are saying.   Arizona has the same law where we must have the SSN or BD.  Unfortunately, some patients will learn the system and always play games.  And since we do belong to some PPOs, we aren't allowed to collect full payment up front.

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doctom4300
Premolar III

Re: Alphabetizing Patient Names with Suffixes

Suzanne, you're right about not being able to collect full payment up front if the patient has insurance with which we are in network. One possibility in that case is to not proceed with treatment until a pre-determination has been filed.

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