4.13.12 Issue #527 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
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Empowering Your Hygienist
By Nancy Caudill

How many times during the day do you feel that you are paddling your canoe alone?  How many times do you say to yourself: “If only my team cared as much about my practice as I do.” Well - maybe you have never given them the “okay” to do so. Have you taken the time at your monthly business meeting to discuss how they can help you with promoting dentistry in the practice? Below are some ideas to get you started on empowering your team to always be looking for ways to increase production, while at the same time providing the ultimate customer service for your patients by ensuring that they are obtaining the dentistry they want and deserve.

Before I start, we must assume that the treatment plans are entered into your computer.  This not only includes treatment recommended for new patients, but also treatment that is recommended to existing patients. This is a MUST in order to implement the concepts below.  Start this step today if it's not already in place!

Review the Routing Slips for Incomplete Treatment at the Morning Meeting
Each patient being seen for the day should have a routing slip. If you are chartless, this is even more imperative. The routing slip is used to move information around the office in an expeditious manner to confirm that all involved team members are on the same page with each patient.

On the routing slip, there should be a list of Unscheduled and Incomplete Treatment.  During the prior day, the clinical team should review the routing slips to confirm that the list is accurate. It is possible that the treatment was completed and never removed from the treatment plan or was rejected by the patient at a previous appointment.

Hygienists' Roles in Re-Introducing Incomplete Treatment
For hygiene patients with incomplete treatment, the hygienist (or hygiene assistant) should have an intra-oral image or x-ray on the monitor relative to the treatment. Once the patient is seated, medical history is reviewed and other initial tasks are complete, the necessity of the recommended treatment should be reviewed again with the patient using the images on the monitor (the clinical need should be noted in the clinical notes) and the patient should be encouraged to schedule the appointment.

Recommendation:  Have a standing order with your hygienist(s) that any incomplete treatment must have some type of image on the monitor before entering the treatment room for the exam.

Hygienists’ Roles for “Pre-Assessing” New Treatment Recommendations
During the initial evaluation, the hygienist always asks the patients if there are teeth that are uncomfortable or any other concerns that they may have. A visual exam by the hygienist would also be useful prior to the doctor’s exam so this information can be relayed to the doctor.

It is also important for the hygienist to continue to monitor the patient’s teeth and gums for any other indications of potential problems. These areas of concern can be shared with the patient without indicating that a diagnosis is being made.  “Mrs. Jones, I am concerned about this tooth on the upper left side. It is possible that due to the large cavity under your old filling, the doctor may be thinking a crown is in order. Let’s talk to him/her about that when s/he comes in, okay?”

The bottom line is that the hygienist needs to take an active role in pre-assessing treatment needs of the patient, in order to assist the doctor with the exam.

Dialogue When the Dentist Enters the Treatment Room with the Hygienist
In order to be more expeditious, it is recommended that the hygienist indicate to the doctor/assistant when their initial evaluation has been completed, as well as the completion of x-rays (when applicable). At this point, the doctor can now enter the hygiene room at any time that it is convenient for him/her to complete the exam opposed to waiting until the end of the hygiene appointment.  Waiting until the end of the appointment does not always correspond with when the doctor can leave their patient, resulting in a delay getting into the hygiene room. I have not seen a hygienist yet that is irritated by the doctor conducting the exam prior to the completion of the appointment if it expedites the exam time.

When the doctor enters the hygiene room, the hygienist would stop the procedure and introduce the doctor, giving up the hygiene chair to allow for the doctor to sit down. The hygienist would then share with the doctor the findings that were made earlier in the appointment, as well as assist with the review of x-rays, enter clinical notes, etc.

“Susan, Dr. Jones is here and ready for your exam. Dr. Jones, Susan and I were discussing an area on the upper left side that we are concerned about. I shared some information with her about the value of crowns just in case you feel that this is an option for her. At this point, she has no other concerns.”

Please note that the patient's name was used twice during this introduction. Doctor, how many times do you walk into the hygiene room and have no idea what the patient's name is? It is the assistant or hygienist's goal to make sure that you know the patient's name in the chair by using it as much as possible until they hear you repeat it, confirming that you are aware.

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Consulting Coaching Programs can help you IMPLEMENT proven strategies, email info@mckenziemgmt.com.

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