Maintaining accurate production and collection numbers is essential for confident dental practice management. By locking your transactions and limiting backdating capabilities, you also reduce the chance of mistakes and lost funds. Each dental practice should make its own decision on the timeline for when to lock their transactions, and Dentrix Ascend allows you to customize this.
As a reference guide for making this decision, we will show the impact on auditing, depending on the date selected.
To configure the transaction lock date, go to Settings > Ledger Options and open the Ledger Rules tab.
What does it mean to lock transactions?
Locking means that you cannot create, delete or change ledger entries in the past. So, if you choose to lock transactions older than 2 days, that means your team has 2 days to review their routing slips or day sheets for accuracy and make any necessary changes - then after that time, the only way to make changes in the ledger is to use adjustments.
You have flexibility for your organization
This setting impacts the entire organization (including all the offices in your dropdown menu) and you have the option to either lock on a set number of days or at end of month. You could also use a combination of these approaches - let's say you want your transactions locked down after 2 days AND when it's end of month, you want the month locked down on the first (without that 2 day review time) - then the administrator just sets it to the automatically lock transactions for posting/editing/deleting that are older than 2 days and then when it's within those 2 days of end of month - change it to the manually initiate transaction lock as of a specified date.
Handling New Conversions
Most newly converted offices focus on bringing over initial balances and initial credit balances - and the team is often given 2 weeks to get all of these entered into Ascend. Getting these balances into Ascend is also critical to complete before statements are sent. You may want to leave your transaction locking open initially to give some flexibility for these initial tasks.
Who will make this locking decision?
In most dental practices, there is a tug of war around when to lock transactions.
- The owner wants accurate reports - and therefore locks at month end at the longest.
- The insurance manager wants clean ledgers - and would prefer to leave the locking open for hundreds of days to make sure insurance changes can be made in the past.
In your practice, who will decide? If you are the owner and you allow your insurance manager to choose to keep the locking to anything longer than end of month - then you have also decided that you will not have the ability to run reports in the past and have the numbers stay they same.
On the other hand, if you decide to lock at end of month or less, then your insurance manager can use adjustments to manage additional changes due to insurance - yes, this will show as an additional entry in the ledger, but it will not change reports and numbers in the past. For guidance on working with adjustments, review Common Adjustments and How to Use Each One.
Occasionally, it may be necessary to backdate beyond your guidelines, for example, if you forgot to charge out a procedure. In this case, if a procedure needs to be entered, a Dentrix Ascend administrator with full rights can change the transaction locking rule to a time frame long enough to allow the backdated entry, enter the procedure, and then reset the rule back to 30 days.
Limiting your backdating to within 30 days provides a variety of benefits:
- You know that any changes you observe in your applied collections reports earlier than 30 days past are the result of unapplied payments changes—and not due to backdating
- There is no need to audit your day sheet or adjusted production report earlier than 2 months past because transactions are locked
- Your team cannot accidentally make a ‘fat finger error’ and impact past production reports
- You increase the chances of maintaining accurate records
If you choose to extend your ledger rules to allow backdating to a longer period of time, be sure to continue running an auditing procedure for both production and collection each month throughout the transaction lock date.
To limit rights for transaction locking
To make sure that only the owner / administrator in the practice have rights to change the transaction locking, go to Settings and then look to these 3 rights. Confirm that no other team members have these 3 user rights selected if you want to secure your transaction locking.
Unlocking an Individual Transaction
If you discover a mistake in a past period, such as:
- Procedure charged out to the wrong provider or patient
- Wrong procedure charged out
- Procedures with the "Bill to Insurance" turned off
It's best to unlock this individual transaction rather than unlocking the entire database. To do this: https://support.dentrixascend.com/hc/en-us/articles/229959967-Unlocking-individual-transactions
Auditing Your System to Identify Backdating
To audit any changes in production, run a custom ledger report that reflects both the created date and transaction date and if you see differences, then look to see why.
To run this custom report:
Go to Power Reporting. Select the Financial tab and choose the Analysis Ledger Report Builder. This will pull up an empty report that you can build.
Now, you’re going to add three fields:
- Created date (local)
- Transaction date (local)
- Procedure code (Proc Code)
Search for each of these in the far left Available Fields column. To add them into your report, double click on each one. If done correctly, your report will look like this:
Now, since the created date cannot be edited, but any additional transactions will be reflected as a transaction date, this provides a quick way to check for any changes made to procedure codes.
So, you will look down this list comparing these two date columns.
If you see any differences between the created date and the transaction date, then you can add patient names to this report and then look into these accounts.
To add patient names to this report, just search in the far left available fields for Patient and double click to add it to the report. Now your report will look like this:
If your transaction locking is set to 14 days, then make sure you are looking back 15 days using this custom report. You can add a filter to make the list more manageable. Drag the transaction date field into the filter area and set the date to the previous 15 days (for this example).
Save this report so you do not have to rebuild it each time you want to run it. Click Save, and name your custom audit report, for example “Production Audit”, and select a destination, either My Reports or Organization Reports. Click OK to finish.
You may find it easier to work with this report if you export it to Excel or PDF.
(Article authored by J. Alldredge, J. Nesbitt 2017; 2019)