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2.15.08 Issue #310 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Angie Stone RDH
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Why Should I Have Consulting for My Hygiene Department?

“Why should I have hygiene practice consulting? My hygienist already knows how to clean teeth. That is what she went to school for.” Does this sound like something you have heard from colleagues or have had this thought yourself? 

 While it is true that dental hygienists go to school for either two or four years to obtain a degree, they do not learn about the business of dentistry.  Hygiene school is no different, in this respect, than dental school. Dental schools main focus is on the mechanics of dentistry.  During a survey, when dentists were asked if they thought business knowledge would have been helpful to them when beginning their practices, an overwhelming number responded with a resounding, “yes”.  Consequently, many dentists felt that if these classes would have been a requirement, they would not have been taken seriously.

 Many respondents reported seeking this type of training after graduation, through continuing education courses, once they realized they had no skill in this area.  Many dentists relayed that they were not comfortable in the role of being a business owner and they would rather do dentistry and not worry about the other responsibilities. In order to work in an environment that entails only dentistry, dentists would need to seek out a position in a large dental corporation where management duties are left to corporate policies.

Without a formal business education in dental management, dentists will often hit roadblocks to practice success and not know which way to turn.  

 If graduating dental hygiene students were polled regarding what knowledge they had of practice production goals, patient retention percentages, insurance coding, etc., the general response would be that they had little to no knowledge. Required hygiene classes seldom if ever discuss which insurance codes  to use and how one missed appointment everyday can result in thousands of dollars lost over the course of a year.

 Hygiene students are not taught that hygiene production should be 33% of total practice production in order for the practice to be profitable.  As a result, there are many lost opportunities in the hygiene department.  Unless the hygienist seeks out this kind of continuing education on her/his own, there is no learning process.

 The Hygiene Practice Enrichment Program provides education in the business area of dental hygiene, as well as addressing key clinical issues that will help increase production and patient compliance. This program is geared to educate the hygiene team, along with the rest of the team, on the importance of a sound recall system, the development of the system, and the implementation of the system. During a three to four day program, the team is taught how to reduce the number of openings per day in the schedule, how to increase production, and how to develop a relationship with patients that will leave them excited about returning for their next visit!

 What if there is turn over in the hygiene department?  How does a practice replace a hygienist with another who will fit in with regards to practice theories and manner of treatment?  These issues are also discussed and solutions are taught during the hygiene practice enrichment program. 

Hygiene protocols are developed to streamline hygiene procedures and calibrate hygiene providers.  Protocol is essential in the event of the loss of a team member.  If all protocols are written, the event of incorporating a new team member becomes an easy task. If the applicant does not agree with the protocol, it can save time and money because this person is not hired.  The search can continue until the right candidate is found. Development of a protocol is an investment in the future of the dental hygiene department and can make many issues that arise easier to handle.

Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department?

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