6.18.10 Issue #432 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Jean Gallienne RDH BS
Hygiene Consultant
McKenzie Management
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Say What - Another Hygiene Exam?
By Jean Gallienne

So you’re working on your scheduled patient and you look up and see the hygienist pacing outside your operatory. You know what she wants. The hygienist is looking for you to break away from your patient in order for you to perform yet another periodic exam in hygiene. What about your own schedule and staying on time yourself? Not only do you have to be conscientious of your own schedule, but you also need to be conscientious of the hygienist’s schedule. Not because the hygienist will get behind and have to work late. It is because of the patient and respecting their time. If you want patients to respect your time and the hygienist’s time, you need to respect their time.

Having the time to do periodic exams in hygiene has been a problem for many dentists. It is a talent and a very conscientious effort to be capable of doing periodic exams in hygiene while staying on time with your own patients. Patients are very aware of underlying stresses in the office. They may not know what they are, but if you or the staff appears to be put out or rushed because of the scheduling demands, this is not the way to maintain patients.

The key is to be flexible – and this goes for both the hygienist and the dentist. Doing the periodic exam on the scheduled patient in hygiene during a time that works into your scheduled patients is what will make the difference. Many doctors want to hold off until the end of the hygiene appointment, not taking into account what will be happening in their own schedule at that time.

One way to help is to have the hygienist come prepared to the morning business meeting, allowing you and the entire staff to be aware of when you will need to do exams. This will give the hygienist a chance to tell you who will need exams because of x-rays being taken, or if there are past clinical notes that have indicated a specific need for you to come into the hygiene room. Once you have been made aware of the needs of the patients in hygiene for the day, it is important that you use that information in the right way.

If your office is paperless, the practice needs to determine a way to have the patients that need exams in hygiene stand out from the rest of the hygiene schedule. Even if you are a paperless office, you may want to have a paper schedule at the morning meeting so you or the assistant can highlight the schedule, making the hygiene exams stand out.

Now, the key to the entire procedure is for you to perform the periodic exam in the hygiene room when you have time to break away from your patient. Let’s say you just got your patient numb and you are getting ready to go into a long procedure on your current patient. This would be a great time to go check the hygiene patients. Another good time would be when you have been working on your scheduled patient for a bit and your patient is starting to fidget or the assistant may need to take an impression or x-ray before you go further.

When you have a lot of little procedures and you know that you are going to be pushed, you may want to do the periodic exams before you start all of the little procedures. As you go from one room to another, go into hygiene before you go to your next patient. The assistant will want to make sure the patients are always brought back to the operatory on time. If there is only one assistant, the front office person may want to seat your patient for you.  

Remember - the less you have to excuse yourself from your patient, the better. Patients have schedules of their own to maintain and you must be respectful of their scheduling/timing needs. The hygiene exams are what help to keep your schedule full, rushing them or making the patient stay longer than they anticipated is not a good business builder.

All of these logistics can be covered at the morning meeting. This is the one time of the day the entire staff can get together and make the schedule work as a team. This time is priceless! Start looking at your schedule and how much treatment is being diagnosed out of your hygiene department. This may be a much bigger motivator for you and your dental team to be more aware of the need for periodic exams in hygiene.

Interested in improving your hygiene department? Email hygiene@mckenziemgmt.com and ask us about our 1 day Hygiene Training Program.

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