Is Your Periodontal Therapy Lost In Cyber Space?
We are going to look at a couple different scenarios that you may want to think about, to know if they are happening in your practice without anybody realizing it.
The office has a new patient come in and the patient insists on getting a cleaning, so the patient is added to the hygienist’s schedule. The hygienist does six point probings and finds that the patient needs four quadrants of root planing. However, the patient is scheduled for a cleaning and the financials have not been explained. The hygienist goes ahead and does the cleaning, the treatment plan is gone over by the financial coordinator, and the patient is scheduled for root planing. The patient returns for the four quadrants of root planing. When they leave, they do not schedule their periodontal maintenance appointment. They request to have a reminder sent to them.
This is great as long as the scheduling coordinator remembers to change the patient’s 6-month prophylaxis recall, which is linked to their continuing care in the computer, to a 3-month periodontal maintenance appointment. Otherwise, there are only two ways that this patient will return for the correct treatment of a periodontal maintenance in three months and not a prophylaxis appointment in six months.
One is if the periodontal maintenance appointment was actually treatment planned into the computer when the root planing was treatment planned, and a staff member is working the treatment pending that is in the computer. We are not talking recall. The other way is if the software will actually allow the office to link the patient to the three-month periodontal maintenance appointment without the patient actually scheduling it. This may need to be done manually by the scheduling coordinator in the continue care area.
The next scenario is a returning patient that has been coming in every 3-6 months for several years to have their routine prophylaxis. Their mouth has not shown any signs of improving in health, and they refuse to go to a periodontist. So, the hygienist treatment plans four quadrants of root planing and in 3 months, a periodontal maintenance appointment. The treatment plan coordinator enters today’s procedures, the four quadrants of root planing, and the periodontal maintenance appointment into the computer.
It is important with existing patients to specifically treatment plan today’s procedures and the periodontal maintenance appointment in the computer so that the insurance benefits remaining are accurate. Make the patient aware of the increase in the fee that they will be paying, because they are now going to be seen as a periodontal maintenance and not a prophylaxis.
The patient is compliant and has the root planing done. When the patient leaves, the scheduling coordinator goes into automatic and schedules the patient for a cleaning in three months because they forgot to link the patient to a perio recall, instead of a prophy recall.
There are other ways periodontal maintenance appointments may be lost due to the patient not being linked correctly to not only the correct amount of monthly interval, but also to the correct perio recall. This may be the difference of a patient needing four appointments in a year compared to two appointments in a year. This only needs to happen approximately eight times in one year for the practice to lose possibly two days of scheduled hygiene time!
When it comes to lost revenue, if eight patients are scheduled at six month intervals as a prophylaxis, instead of three month intervals as a periodontal maintenance, this will result in a loss of $3104 a year. Looking at your production by provider based on the individual codes is a very good way to see if this may be happening in your practice.
Another way is to run a report that informs you of how many periodontal maintenance appointments you have returning one year from today, with and without appointments. If this number is really low, then your office needs to evaluate the periodontal therapy program they have in place and how it is utilizing the software in your computer.
Another number/report that is interesting to look at is how many periodontal maintenance appointments were done by each hygienist in your practice in the last year. You may also want to look at how much root planing was done and consider how many of those patients should be returning for periodontal maintenance appointments.
These are just a couple of areas where periodontal therapy programs can fall into the cracks of cyber space and be lost in the computer. These are production numbers that should be looked at on a regular basis. If they do not appear correct, then the office may want to look into the systems being utilized in the office and trends.
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