12.15.06 - Issue # 249 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Jean Gallienne RDH BS
Hygiene Consultant
McKenzie Management
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Evaluating The Hygiene Department’s Production

Where is your hygiene department not producing as much as the industry standards recommend? Most hygiene departments are not producing enough when it comes to periodontal disease and selling ancillary products. It is the industry standard that 33% of the total hygiene production should come from selling ancillary services and interceptive periodontal program.

Is your hygiene department within these industry standards? To uncover the results, generate a “Procedures by Provider” report for the month and add the amount produced for all ancillary services and interceptive periodontal therapy program services such as periodontal maintenance, root planing 4 or more teeth, and root planing 1-3 teeth. Next, divide this by the total hygiene production not including periodic exams. This formula allows you to track what your hygiene department is producing.  If you are at or above 33%, that is great. However, if you are not, there are a few places that may be decreasing your productivity in this area.

If the dentist and/or hygienists are introverted in their personality or have a fear of rejection, they may have difficulty in reinforcing the treatment plan. They may also have difficulty recommending interceptive periodontal therapy treatment to patients. This results in the hygiene department performing prophy after prophy.

If the hygienist or dentist wants everyone to like them in addition to being  introverted, they may be too lax with a patient who is not following through with their interceptive periodontal therapy program. They also can have a difficult time telling a patient that they have some form of periodontal disease. 

A computer probing system that helps the patient co-diagnose may be the answer to this inability to communicate. Having a system that explains to the patients about, probing, periodontal disease, and what the probing numbers and bleeding points mean is consistent and professionally done. The operator simply has to probe and the computer calls out the pocket depth as you step on the appropriate foot pedal. In addition, if there is bleeding or pus, the operator steps on the appropriate foot pedal and the patient will hear, “bleeding, pus”.  This is powerful in convincing patients of disease.

Many hygienists are leery of stating the health of the patient’s mouth as they see it. However, the patient needs to own their disease and be educated about everything going on in their mouth. It is very helpful to us as practitioners, as well as patients, that new technologies enable our computers to tell the facts to the patients.

Many offices are not probing, and are not sure how to start. What code is used to bill the insurance? There is no extra person available to record the pocket depths.  What charting should be used? What verbiage should be used when explaining the disease to patients? What if they question why we are probing? What if they question why we have not done this in the past? All of these are questions that will need to be answered.

A lot of the concerns above are more reason for utilizing a computer probing system, such as Florida Probe. There is no concern about having a person available to write the measurements down. The charting is automatically standardized amongst operators, the computer will have standardized verbiage when it comes to different staff members describing what periodontal disease is, how, and what to treat.

There are many ways to inform patients of new procedures that are being incorporated in the office. When a patient calls to make an appointment, the Scheduling Coordinator should be excited to tell the patient about the new commitment the office has made to screen all patients for periodontal disease. Have brochures that explain periodontal disease available to give the patients. Have research articles that are written with less technical jargon available in the reception room. Create a form letter that explains periodontal disease, and the commitment the office has towards treating it.

When it comes to using a computer probing system compared to manual, even if you probed in the past, the patient will more than likely perceive that something different is being done. They will perceive that probing is new technology and may not even ask questions, other than about the computer and the system you are using.

These are just a few of the concerns that come up when looking at why a hygiene department may not be producing to their full potential. Looking at your interceptive periodontal therapy program is a great place to start.

Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department? Email hygiene@mckenziemgmt.com.

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McKenzie Management
A Division of the McKenzie Company, Inc.
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La Jolla, CA 92037
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