How to use Microsoft Office to do Dental Billing Written by: goaskdebbie • Edited by: Lamar Stonecypher Updated May 20, 2011 • Related Guides: Microsoft | Excel | Microsoft Office Dental offices must keep track of extensive patient data and bill according to appropriate codes. While many dental offices may choose to purchase dental billing software, Microsoft Office is a suitable alternative. Use Microsoft Office to do Dental Billing Using a combination of Microsoft Excel and Word allows for tracking patient data, including history, and sending correspondence to both patient and insurance companies. Create Patient Records Spreadsheet First, open Microsoft Excel to create a patient records spreadsheet. Create the necessary columns such as "First Name," "Last Name," "Address," Appointment Date," "Appointment Time," and "Billing Code." Add any other columns as needed. HINT: To create successful data records it is a good practice to highlight the header row, usually Row 1, and bold the text. Type all patient name, address, and appointment information into the spreadsheet by using the "Tab" key to move through the records. If a large list of billing codes is necessary, it may be a good idea to create a lookup table. Create an Excel Lookup Table for Dental Billing Codes A dental office could keep a manual list of codes and enter them into the "Records Spreadsheet" as necessary, including costs. However, a "Lookup Table" allows for a clerk to select a specific "Code" from a list and have the cost automatically filled in from the selection. By using the "=LOOKUP" function, a separate list of billing codes and costs may be kept without the need to manually lookup codes and costs each time entry is needed.The function is as follows:=LOOKUP(lookup_value, lookup_vector, result_vector)The "lookup_value" is the column that contains the billing code. The "lookup_vector" is the range or list of data containing the billing codes. The "result_vector" is the column containing the costs for each corresponding code.For example, if the "Billing Code" column is "Column E" in Sheet 1 and the list is placed in "Column A" and "Column B" on Sheet 2, then the formula would be placed in "Column F" of Sheet 1 like this.=LOOKUP(E3, Sheet2!$A$2:$A$9,Sheet2!$B$2:$B$9)This formula looks up the cost for the specific billing code and returns the value into "Column F." Ensure that the "lookup_vector" range includes the entire list of codes and costs. In our example, we only have rows of data through row 9 and thus the formula "$A$2:$A$9" is used. The dollar signs around the cell range ensure that the range remains the same when copying the formula to all rows. The "dollar signs" create an "absolute" value in Excel. Copy the formula to all rows containing patient records.Continue to use the "Records Spreadsheet" to enter patients, appointment dates and times, and billing codes. =LOOKUP Formula Use Microsoft Word for Correspondence Once the data is entered, letters may be sent to patients and insurance companies using Microsoft Word. Open Microsoft Word and setup a template letter by typing it in full. Setup the mail merge by following these steps. If using Microsoft Word 2003 and earlier, click on the "Tools" menu and select the "Mail Merge" menu item. If using Microsoft Word 2007 and later, click on the "Mailings" tab and select the "Start Mail Merge" button. Follow the wizard in the window that opens on the right side of the screen. Select the "Letters" document type and click on the "Next" button at the bottom of the screen. Select the "Use the current document" and click on the "Next" button. Select the "Use an existing list" option for selecting recipients and click on the "Browse" button to locate the "Records Spreadsheet." Once located, click on the "Open" button to bring the data into the Word document. HINT: If the spreadsheet cannot be located, ensure that the browse window is searching for Excel files by clicking on the "data sources" or "files by type" drop down. Follow the wizard to select "Sheet 1" or the sheet that contains the patient data and to select the specific patients in which correspondence on billing is currently being completed. Click on the "Next" button to place specific fields from the "Records Spreadsheet" into the letter and select recipients from the patients. Select the fields needed to appropriately fill in the letter by clicking on the "More items" option in the wizard. Lastly, click on the "Preview your letters" button to view the accuracy of the letters. Click on the "Complete the merge" button and select the "Print" option in the wizard. If the billing clerk prefers to view the completed letters before printing, "Edit individual letters" may be chosen. In the "Print" dialog, select the letters to be printed and click on the "OK" button. Dental billing may be as specific as needed using Microsoft Office. Using the steps above allows a dental office to setup a simple and easy to use dental billing system. Use Microsoft Access for Dental Billing As the practice grows you may want to consider migrating from Excel to a powerful database program. Software such as Microsoft Access can make this a less laborious project. Microsoft Access is a database program which may easily be setup using templates. Microsoft provides a simple "Time and Billing" template which may be downloaded for free directly from Microsoft. As with all Access databases, templates may be edited. Be sure and backup the database and create a second copy while working with edits. This way if any mistakes are made, the original database is in place. Whether you decide to start out using Excel combined with Word or move directly to Access; using Microsoft Office for dental billing provides options that fit most any dental practice.