Empowering Your Hygienist
How many times during the day do you feel that you are paddling your canoe alone? How many times do you say to yourself: “If only my team cared as much about my practice as I do.” Well - maybe you have never given them the “okay” to do so. Have you taken the time at your monthly business meeting to discuss how they can help you with promoting dentistry in the practice? Below are some ideas to get you started on empowering your team to always be looking for ways to increase production, while at the same time providing the ultimate customer service for your patients by ensuring that they are obtaining the dentistry they want and deserve.
Before I start, we must assume that the treatment plans are entered into your computer. This not only includes treatment recommended for new patients, but also treatment that is recommended to existing patients. This is a MUST in order to implement the concepts below. Start this step today if it's not already in place!
Review the Routing Slips for Incomplete Treatment at the Morning Meeting
On the routing slip, there should be a list of Unscheduled and Incomplete Treatment. During the prior day, the clinical team should review the routing slips to confirm that the list is accurate. It is possible that the treatment was completed and never removed from the treatment plan or was rejected by the patient at a previous appointment.
Hygienists' Roles in Re-Introducing Incomplete Treatment
Recommendation: Have a standing order with your hygienist(s) that any incomplete treatment must have some type of image on the monitor before entering the treatment room for the exam.
Hygienists’ Roles for “Pre-Assessing” New Treatment Recommendations
It is also important for the hygienist to continue to monitor the patient’s teeth and gums for any other indications of potential problems. These areas of concern can be shared with the patient without indicating that a diagnosis is being made. “Mrs. Jones, I am concerned about this tooth on the upper left side. It is possible that due to the large cavity under your old filling, the doctor may be thinking a crown is in order. Let’s talk to him/her about that when s/he comes in, okay?”
The bottom line is that the hygienist needs to take an active role in pre-assessing treatment needs of the patient, in order to assist the doctor with the exam.
Dialogue When the Dentist Enters the Treatment Room with the Hygienist
When the doctor enters the hygiene room, the hygienist would stop the procedure and introduce the doctor, giving up the hygiene chair to allow for the doctor to sit down. The hygienist would then share with the doctor the findings that were made earlier in the appointment, as well as assist with the review of x-rays, enter clinical notes, etc.
“Susan, Dr. Jones is here and ready for your exam. Dr. Jones, Susan and I were discussing an area on the upper left side that we are concerned about. I shared some information with her about the value of crowns just in case you feel that this is an option for her. At this point, she has no other concerns.”
Please note that the patient's name was used twice during this introduction. Doctor, how many times do you walk into the hygiene room and have no idea what the patient's name is? It is the assistant or hygienist's goal to make sure that you know the patient's name in the chair by using it as much as possible until they hear you repeat it, confirming that you are aware.
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