The very first thing to cover is the Patient Selector. This is a very important section and will affect how MacPractice will behave in different abilities. When you have selected one patient, anything new that you do or create will automatically be associated to that patient. The selected patient’s name and account number will be displayed at the very top of the window. To deselect the patient simply click the X to the left of the patient's name. If no patient is selected and you create a new item like an appointment or a note you will be asked to select a patient to associate it to.
The sidebar contains the records within the ability you have selected. Since I’m in the Patient's ability, you can see I have a list of patients in the sidebar under a bold header called Patients with a folder icon. This bold header is called a Node. Each ability will have various different Nodes within it. If a node has items under that node, you will see a little triangle appear next to the node name when you click on it. Clicking the little triangle will either hide or display the records contained within that node. This is called expanding or collapsing the node, however, you may also hear it called twisting down the node, opening the node, or drilling down the node. Whichever it's called, this action always refers to expanding the node so you can see the contents within the node, kind of like a folder. For example, in the References ability there are many different nodes. The folder icon for the References node is green with an R, identifying these as references. You may see this same green folder icon in other abilities, as the References affect many areas of the software. Since this ability contains all of our non-patient information, there are many nodes with several items within them. To navigate this ability more efficiently, you may wish to collapse one node before you open another one.
Not every node contains records within it, however. If you ever click on a node and don’t see the triangle that means that node does not contain records or only contains one record. For example, if I go back to the Patient's ability you will see a Find node. Clicking this node reveals no triangle so this node performs an action. Instead, it allows me to search for patients. I can use the detail area to enter my search criteria. For example, I want to search for patients by ____ and ____. I can then either hit the return key on the keyboard or click the search icon in the toolbar to search for matching patients. MacPractice has narrowed down my list in the sidebar to all patients that match my search criteria. If I want to go back to the entire patient's list, I can simply click the reload button.
The sidebar is more than just a list of records. You’ll notice that the sidebar has a scrollbar at the bottom. This means that there’s more information that we can see by scrolling over. You’ll notice there are other columns here that display additional information about the patient. We can see what each column represents by looking at the column header at the top. You’ll also notice that the patient column is highlighted in blue and has a triangle on it. This means that the list is currently being sorted alphabetically by patient name. If you want to sort by patient account number instead, you can simply click on the column header to sort by that column. You can click on the column header again to sort in the opposite direction. You can also change the size of the columns by dragging the edge of the column. You will notice the mouse cursor will change as I do this. You can also reorder the columns by clicking and dragging the column name. These actions of resorting, resizing and reordering columns is universal throughout the MacPractice software. If there is an area where these do not work as expected, it may be that MacPractice simply won’t let us change this setting for one reason or another. For example, in the Patient's ability, I cannot change the position of the Patient's column. It is locked in place. This is so that I always know that the first column I see in the sidebar is my patient name to avoid any confusion with the guarantor names.
You can also make the sidebar larger so there is more room to view this displayed information. Simply hover your mouse over the edge of the sidebar and your mouse cursor will change just like it did when resizing the columns. You can then drag left and right to change the size of the sidebar.
Right above the sidebar, you will see a search bar. This is usually referred to as a sidebar search because it allows us to search for records within the sidebar. Simply type any criteria in the search bar and press the return key on the keyboard to perform a quick search. Sidebar searching looks through all the columns in the sidebar. In the Patient's ability it will search by patient name, patient account number or ID number, and guarantor names. You will notice that my search for smith brought up patients that do not have the letters SMITH in their name, however, their guarantors do. Sidebar searching will also be affected by what node you have selected and what ability you are in. The Patient’s ability will always search for patients. In the References ability, though, I will need to select the specific node I would like to search from, i.e. Insurance Companies, Fees, etc… If I have the wrong node selected when I search, MacPractice may not find what I am looking for. Click the x in the search bar or click the reload button to reset your list.
Right above the sidebar search bar you will see a pop up menu with a bunch of color labels. These sidebar color labels allow you to color code items in your sidebar. To colorize an item, make sure it's selected, then pick a label from the pop up menu and the color will be automatically applied. You may have to deselect the item to see the color. You can also assign names to each one of these color labels in the Preferences window under Labels. The labels will be the same for all users and all abilities, so be sure it's something universal. you can use the colors for anything, such as red for a bankrupt account or green for cash-pay patients, or blue for blue cross/blue shield and so on.
The last item I want to talk about in the sidebar is the plus and minus buttons. You will see plus and minus buttons in many areas of the software and they always perform the same action; creating and removing records from the database. The buttons in the sidebar allow us to add items to the sidebar nodes. In Patients, the plus button will add a new patient. In References, the plus button will add a new item under the selected node. Clicking the minus button allows me to remove that item, provided it’s not being used somewhere else in the database.