It is important for dental hygienists to help support the doctor’s treatment plans and educate patients about their needs. It is equally important for the entire team to understand the importance of patient hygiene appointments. Recall is an ongoing internal system, and the doctor is one of the most important team members when it comes to reinforcing the recall system to patients.
With the recall system, we are not only texting, emailing, and mailing reminders to patients. We are also sending messages when they are overdue for their hygiene appointment, and the recall person is working diligently to make contact with patients via telephone to get them scheduled. This is all great, but the most effective way to communicate with people is face-to-face. Telephone is next, and then written. Now, we are not going to knock on patients’ doors to remind them of their appointments or get them scheduled. However, there are often many missed opportunities happening in the office.
“Tom Jones” was just in the office because he was having sensitivity on the upper right. The doctor took a look at Tom’s mouth and found he had a cracked tooth that was going to need a crown. The patient received his estimated portion from the treatment plan coordinator and was scheduled for the crown in a couple of weeks.
This is great. However, nobody bothered to mention to Tom that he is overdue for his periodontal maintenance appointment. Since this was never mentioned by the doctor, assistant or treatment plan coordinator, the perceived value of the importance for Tom to stay on his regular recall has decreased.
The best scenario would be the following: At the morning meeting, the assistant informs the entire staff that Tom is overdue for his periodontal maintenance appointment, and that he does not have one scheduled at this time. The assistant also notes that Tom’s youngest daughter is due for her hygiene appointment in three days, and is not yet scheduled. The assistant has all of this information at her fingertips because the office uses route slips, and the team prepares for the morning meeting by reviewing the patients coming in the day before.
Now when Tom comes in, the doctor looks at the sensitive area and also confirms that Tom is overdue for his periodontal maintenance appointment. The doctor emphasizes the importance of staying on top of the hygiene appointments to help reduce the risk of gum disease destroying even more bone support. The doctor also lets Tom know his daughter will be due in a couple of days, and maybe they can schedule his periodontal maintenance appointment on the same day to save a trip. Tom is also informed of the need for a crown because of the cracked tooth.
When he is taken to the treatment plan coordinator by the assistant, she reinforces (out loud and in writing on the route slip) that Tom and his daughter are in need of hygiene appointments. The treatment plan coordinator goes over the treatment needed in addition to the periodontal maintenance, and encourages Tom to make not only the crown appointment but the hygiene appointments that are needed as well.
Regardless of how busy your hygiene department is, it’s important to seize every chance we have to create value for patients to maintain their periodontal health. This is best done when patients are in the office, face-to-face with not only the doctor but the entire team. You don’t want to be the office that missed an opportunity!
Interested in improving your hygiene department? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask us about our 1-Day Hygiene Training Program or call 877-777-6151
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