Open Time in Hygiene
When you checked the hygiene schedule last week, it was completely full. However, when you look at it from week to week after the fact, there are often a lot of openings. What is really going on with your hygiene schedule? Are patients canceling last minute, not showing up, or do you have too much hygiene time available compared to the appointments that are needed?
No matter what we do, there will be cases when a patient has to cancel due to illness, last minute scheduling conflicts, etc. Hopefully your front office has created a “last minute change in the schedule list” or a “VIP list” allowing those last minute cancellations to be filled. The front desk should be educated to ask every patient who schedules their appointment in advance the following questions:
1. Is it ok for us to call you if we have a change in our schedule?
These questions are particularly helpful if the patient had to delay their appointment a week or two because of the time of day, or if the day of the week they wanted was already booked. This is also the perfect time to create value in the hygiene appointment by simply stating:
“Since we had to make your appointment two weeks from the date you are actually due for your hygiene appointment, can we call you if we have a change in our schedule? It is really important for your overall health and the health of your mouth that we keep you on schedule for your hygiene appointments.”
Anytime the opportunity arises to create value in the hygiene appointment, it should be taken. This is the job of the entire team, and the entire team should believe in the value of the hygiene appointment themselves. If you or your staff do not believe in the value of the hygiene appointment, then why would your patients?
When there are a lot of no-shows in hygiene, the first thing to work on is creating value and providing education for your patients. If you or your team do not know how to do this, it may be important to provide training to emphasize the value of the hygiene appointment and enable your team to educate every patient they see. Remember, the hygiene appointment is not “just a cleaning.”
You should also evaluate how many days of hygiene are needed in your office. Just because the schedule appears full and it is difficult to schedule patients for their hygiene appointments, it does not necessarily mean you need to add more hygiene time. Many offices end up adding more hygiene appointments than they really need, only to find out they are now unable to keep the schedule full.
If you have a lot of openings in your schedule because you have too much hygiene time, you may need to have your hygiene department evaluated. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to let a hygienist go, or even cut hours. However, it may mean that you need to make some changes to improve efficiencies and streamline the schedule.
For example, if your periodontal therapy is not 33% of the hygiene department’s production, there may need to be some changes when it comes to the treatment and diagnosis of periodontal disease in your practice.
These are a few things to consider in the coming weeks/months. When we schedule appointments in advance, without having particular time blocks in our schedule based on past history, it can give a false sense of security. Hopefully your hygiene department tracks the open time, no-shows and cancellations, and knows where the numbers are when it comes to their goals.
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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