03.27.09 Issue #368 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Angie Stone
Angie Stone RDH, BS
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Hygiene Holding The Line

Although the economy seems to be spiraling downward before everyone’s eyes, dental offices have a way to hold the line. They just don’t know it!

Recently I heard the following:

“We just don’t know what to do. We have all of these openings. The hygienists have begun taking turns taking extra time off each week because the schedule is not full and we can’t afford to support all of them. Some days start out just fine, but then fall apart by the end of the day. It must be this economy.”

I asked the following questions:

  • How many active patients to you have? Answer: “I am not sure.”
  • How many openings in hygiene are you having on average a day? Answer: “Not exactly sure. It seems like a lot.”
  • How many hours of hygiene are you providing currently each week? Answer: “Well, let me think. We have 8 hygienists. I guess I would need to figure that out.”
  • Has your hygiene production declined over the past 6 months? Answer: “Not sure, but it sure seems like it.”

Notice the trend in the responses? None of the questions were answered with a definite affirmative answer. How can offices be sure of the reason they are sensing a difference if they don’t have accurate data to help make that determination? I often compare these practice hygiene issues with a weight loss program because people can relate more readily. A person typically knows if they weigh too much and can tell that they are not eating as they should. If exercise is lacking, they are aware of that too, but do they really know what they weigh until they get on the scale? Do they really know how much they need to lose? Can they determine what the best eating plan would be for them in order for them to lose weight? Research shows people who engage in an actual structured weight loss programs are more successful at weight loss. This is because experts in the field teach and assist the people seeking to lose weight to assess the situation, make a plan to correct the situation and make them accountable for following through.

Hygiene Consulting provides education and systems of accountability for dentists and hygiene teams. Providing professional analysis of the practice statistics, discussing the history that caused the practice to get to this condition, designing solutions to improve the situation and supplying follow-up assistance are all part of the consulting process.

Consider how a Hygiene Consultant can assist a practice to answers the previous questions correctly.

How many active patients do you have? This needs to be determined so the office knows how many patients need to be accommodated. The number of active patients is not the number of charts filed in cabinets. In fact, most often the number of active patients is approximately HALF the number of charts in the cabinet, at best. What has happened to the other half? Are these inactive patients people who could help the hygiene department increase production/revenue?

How many openings in hygiene are you having a day, on average? This number needs to be determined so the office knows how many openings to expect each day. If office staff know what to expect there can be a plan to fill the openings. If there is no plan, the openings remain open and production and revenue decline.

How many hours of hygiene are you currently providing each week? Hours of hygiene offered each week needs to be determined by the number of patients that need to be seen. Typically hygienists are added to payroll when the hygiene schedule is full and patients need to wait for a while to get in for an appointment. This is not the way to determine need for hygiene time. This need fluctuates and needs to be re-evaluated on a three-month basis.

Has your hygiene production declined over the past six months? This needs to be monitored so the office can determine a daily hygiene goal. Without a daily goal, the hygienist simply cleans the teeth and does not look for other things the patient is in need of. These additional diagnosed services can help the hygienist meet daily goals and then meet monthly and yearly goals.

The hygiene department can be a big player in holding the line in these economic times. The answers are there, you just don’t know where to look.. Utilize these answers to take evaluation of the current situation, learn what to do to improve the situation and make the changes that are indicated.

Need help with implementing new systems and products in you hygiene department? Email hygiene@mckenziemgmt.com.
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