How to Use the Patients Ability

Note: We're currently updating the Patients Ability documentation. You may see this live article change rapidly and see some broken parts temporarily. We recommend you check the other articles in the Knowledge Base > Patients section of the HelpDesk located in the meantime, or contact MacPractice Support if you need immediate assistance.

The Patients Ability in MacPractice is an information hub that displays all of the demographic, insurance, clinical and ledger data in a user friendly format. The Patients Ability is organized into several tabs, all designed to house information about a Patient Account and any individuals on the Account. An Account can have several Patients, and all Accounts can have a Primary and a Secondary Guarantor.

This article addresses how to use the Patients Ability and the general workflow to add a new patient or account, view or edit demographic information, and access the more advanced features of patient management such as their Ledger or Dental Chart (If using MacPractice DDS)

You'll want to review the set up article before proceeding with this article. For information on how to set up the Patients Ability, please refer to the Setting Up The Patients Ability article.


Selecting a Patient

To select a patient, you'll use the Patient Selector in the left sidebar at the top. Click the "No Patient Selected, click to select" section of the sidebar as shown in the screenshot below:


This will open the Patient Selector, with three tabs available: Patient Search, Appointments, and Recent.  


You can easily look up a patient with the Patient Search tab, or you can use the Appointments tab to look up a patient based on an appointment made for them on a selected day. The Recent tab lets you look up a patient you've recently selected. You can read more about how the Patient Selector works in this article. 

When you select a Patient in the sidebar, you're taken to their Account. At the top of the MacPractice window, you can see the Account Number and the Patient Name for the Account. It is important to note that you can have several patients under an Account, and Accounts share a ledger and Primary and Secondary Guarantors. This is useful in the case of family accounts, where one or two individuals with health insurance will cover the rest of the family, and the Account holder will be paying for the entire family's procedures. If a patient is not going to be covered by the Account holder, you may consider creating a new Account for that individual.

You can review who is in a given Account by selecting a patient in the Account and then navigating to the Accounts Tab of a given selected Patient. A good indicator to observe that there are multiple patients in a given account is if the Account Number's hyphenated number (The number after the dash) is greater than 1.


Creating a Patient or an Account

You can create a new Account or a new Patient by clicking the Green Plus in the left sidebar while in the Patients Ability. The behavior will change slightly depending on if you have a patient already selected or not. 

  • If you have a patient selected, you will be prompted as to whether you wish to create a patient under the account for the patient you already have selected. You can also choose to create a new Account.
  • If you do not have a patient selected, you will instead be prompted to confirm that you wish to create a new Account. 


Primary and Secondary Tabs


The Primary and Secondary tabs contain demographic, employer, and insurance information about the guarantors on an Account, the contact(s) who are financially responsible for the Account.
If you change demographic information in the Primary and Secondary tab, this will change the Primary and Secondary Tab's information for all Patients on the Account.

First, let's address a common misconception: The Primary and Secondary tabs do not refer to Primary or Secondary Insurance. These tabs house the demographic information of the Primary and Secondary Guarantor of the Account. The Primary and Secondary Guarantor can HAVE insurance on them (signifying that the Insurance added is in their name), but you can control which insurances cover each individual patient on the Account within the Patients Tab. 

For example: If we were setting up a family account for a husband, wife, and their three children, and the wife's insurance covers the family, when we were creating the Account we could start with anyone in the family, but we would populate the Primary tab with the wife's information, with the husband as the Secondary. Then we would add each patient under the account.
We could then add Insurance to the Primary tab, which we could then customize whether an individual Patient is covered under the Primary Guarantor's insurance. We could also add the husband's insurance if he has any. If a family member was covered by one parent's insurance and not the others, we could customize how those insurance coverages apply in the Patient tab.

Most of the demographic fields are self-explanatory. We do recommend checking the "Release of Info (Box 12" and "Signature on File (box 13)" checkboxes if you are a North American office and these items are covered in the release documents on a patient's first visit, as this will impact signature fields on claim forms.

You can add or remove Employers or Insurances by clicking the corresponding Green Plus or Red Minus buttons on the upper right of the Employers and Insurance sections. Adding Insurances for a Primary or Secondary Guarantor will make them available for all patients underneath the Account. We'll address how to enable or disable those Insurances by a patient-by-patient basis in the Patients Tab section.

Click here for more information about Employers in the Primary/Secondary Tab.

Click here for more information about Insurance in the Primary/Secondary Tab.

The Account Tab


The Account Tab contains a variety of information related to the Account itself. Here, you can identify which Patients are on the Account, and which Portal Users have access to the Account's data (presuming you have the Patient Portal purchased).

You can also set the Account's Financial Status, set a default Provider and Office for the Account, control where and when Statements for this Account are sent, and set Account Alerts to ensure no important details are overlooked.

You can also set a Statement Message here, if you wish to personalize what messages should be printed on this specific Account. 

Finally, you can also review Account Balance information here, and how much is owed by both the Patient and by any outstanding Insurance claims.

The Patient Tab


The Patient tab is where all the data for an individual patient in an account is stored. 

The top half of the screen is reserved for demographic information. This information can match the Primary or Secondary if the Primary/Secondary Guarantor is also a patient. You can also copy the information from the Patients tab over to the Primary/Secondary tab by holding down the Option key and clicking on the tab you wish to copy information to.

The bottom half of the Patients tab is divided into several sub-tabs.  

  • Recalls/Follow Ups: This tab lists all current recalls on this particular patient. Recalls and Follow Ups are used to track when patients should be returning to the office. This feature is called Recalls in MacPractice DDS, and Follow-Ups in all other editions of MacPractice.
    Click here for a full guide on how to set up and use recalls."
  • Insurance: This tab controls how an insurance set on the Primary or the Secondary tab applies to the currently selected Patient. 
    You can drag and drop patient insurances in order, with the primary insurance being on top. If you drag them in the appropriate order, fields will automatically populate correctly when creating claims for this patient.
    You can also uncheck Insurances that don't apply to this Patient. For example, if in the above example Jimmy's Aetna insurance didn't apply to the currently selected patient, we could uncheck it so it wouldn't be an option.
  • Referrals: The Referrals tab is used to document whether a Patient has been referred to or from another provider. It can also be used to document marketing referrals.
  • Custom: The Custom tab links to the Custom Reference list in the References Ability, and can be used to track a number of unique things. Some offices use this section to note a patient's favored pharmacy, or whether the patient has participated in a medical study. 
  • Alerts: The Alerts Tab allows a user to set an Alert that pertains to this particular patient. You can set alerts for common situations like warnings about a patient's serious medical condition, language barriers, phobias, habitual lateness, or any other situation that you may want to track.
  • Appointments: The Appointments Tab lists all appointments that the patient has had scheduled. This is purely an informational tab, you can't schedule from here. However, you can filter the list by date, and sort by each column. 
  • Notes: The Notes tab contains a free text field that can be used to note anything you wish to regarding the patient. This is best used for conversational information, not anything that belongs with their medical record such as clinical notes.
  • Emergency: The Emergency Tab allows a user to enter information regarding the patient's emergency contacts.
  • Communication: The Communications Tab tracks information regarding patient communications. It also contains the AutoRemind Profile drop down, which allows a user to set which AutoRemind Profile is used by this patient record.
  • Race/Ethnicity: The Race/Ethnicity Tab is used to add or remove demographic information for the patient. 
  • Portal Access: The Portal Access Tab determines which Patient Portal users can access this patient's records. You can set up Portal Users either via there or from References > Portal Users. You must have the Patient Portal active on your license in order to utilize these features.
  • CDA/School: This tab will only be present under specific conditions. If you are using MacPractice DDS and have Dental eClaims enabled, this will appear as the "School" tab. If Canadian Claim Fields are enabled in Preferences > Localization, it will appear as the "CDA" tab.

The Clinical Tab and the Clinical Summary


The Clinical Tab is home to the selected Patient's Clinical information. The Summary takes up the top half of the window, with Clinical-related tabs at the bottom of the window. 

Important: In MacPractice Gen 11 we've revamped the Clinical Tab. It is now the Clinical Ability, with much of the functionality of the Clinical Tab simply moved over. For more information on the Clinical Ability, please click here.

The information below is more relevant to MacPractice Gen 9 and below.

The Clinical Summary
The Clinical Summary contains all the information that's been added to a patient's chart. The Summary accounts for Procedures and Treatment Plans, Prescriptions, Clinical Notes, Attachment, etc.
Most items are clickable links that will take you directly to the item in question.
You can also filter the displayed results with the Start Date/End Date fields.

Exporting Incidents
Sometimes you'll want a paper file of the Clinical Summary, or you'll need to export a patient's Clinical Summary to your Patient Portal. In order to do this, you'll first need to select an incident via the Incident drop down menu in the upper left. 


Once you have an Incident selected, you can use the Export Incident drop down in the upper right hand corner.
In most situations you'll use the "To Patient..." option. The "Associate with Existing 'Transition To'" and "Create New 'Transition To'..." options are used when an exported summary is intended for an outgoing referral.
When you select "To Patient", the Clinical Summary will automatically be exported to the Patient Portal if applicable. You'll also be presented with the following prompt.  


This prompt will give you the opportunity to determine what sections of a Clinical Summary you'd like to print.

Clinical Sub-Tabs

The bottom half of the Clinical Tab is reserved for several sub-tabs that are used to enter specific Clinical information into the patient's record. Many of these will populate areas of the Summary and can be referenced by other areas of the software.
For example, diagnoses entered into the Problem List can be pulled into New Charges in the Ledger, and the EMR and EHR abilities for forms.

  • Problem List The Problem List contains a record of all diagnoses for a patient. For each entered diagnosis, you can mark them inactive if a particular diagnosis isn't applicable anymore.
  • Allergies  The Allergies tab contains records of any allergies the patient may have. You can mark them active or inactive. 
  • Immunizations   The Immunizations tab holds the patient's immunization records.
  • Vitals The Vitals Tab holds the patient's vital records.
  • Smoking The Smoking Tab holds any records regarding the patient's smoking status.
  • Patient Education The Patient Education tab tracks all educational information that has been provided to the patient. 
  • Preventive Care The Preventive Care tab tracks routine preventive procedures that have been performed at a different practice.
  • Goals The Goals tab contains the patient's clinical goals and related instructions. 
  • Care Team The Care Team tab allows you to define specific users to be assigned to this patient's Care Team. This particular tab does not interact with any other section of MacPractice.
  • Family History The Family History tab contains a log of past or present issues in the patient's family that could contribute to their health.

Dental Tab (DDS Only)


The Dental tab contains both Restorative Charting and Perio Charting for the selected Patient. As these topics can get lengthy, we have included links to focused guides on the functionality of Restorative Charting and Perio Charting.

Restorative Charting

Click here for a guide on How To Set Up Restorative Charting.
Click here for a guide on How To Use Restorative Charting.

Perio Charting

Click here for a guide on How To Use Perio Charting.



The Ledger contains records of all procedure codes charged to the patient's Account. It also houses all insurance claim submissions, received patient and insurance payments, as well as account adjustments, write-offs, and statement data.

Click here for a Ledger Quick Start Guide.



The Orders Tab (And Orders Ability) allows you to send intra-office Orders to manage and assign tasks and track particular items that need to be addressed within the office. This is a great tool to assist with communicating between MacPractice users.

Click here for a guide on How To Use Orders.

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