11.5.10 Issue #452 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Jean Gallienne RDH BS
Hygiene Consultant
McKenzie Management
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Is Your Hygienist's Time Being Utilized Properly?
By Jean Gallienne, RDH BS

Are you one of the many practices that are over-loading the hygienist’s precious time with other non-clinical duties? This is starting to become more and more prevalent as offices begin going chartless. There are also many practices out there that are hiring a hygienist for the first time, and are not really sure of what the hygienist’s job description should be.

One thing offices need to be careful of is adding too many non-clinical duties to the hygienist job description. These are duties that will take time away from building patient rapport and may change the attitude patients have towards the clinician they are establishing a trusting relationship with. Some of the duties that are being added include making the next hygiene appointment for the patient, and going over treatment plans that come out of the hygiene department.

It is recommended that the time it takes the hygienist to make the next appointment for the patient would be better spent providing any of the following that may not have been done already:

  • Writing down six point probings and recession
  • Taking all necessary x-rays
  • Taking pictures of the patients mouth with the intra oral camera
  • Going over oral hygiene instruction
  • Educating the patient about why they need the treatment the doctor diagnosed

This time would even be better spent reiterating the recall system to the patient and how you would like to have a 24-hour or more notice if the appointment needs to be changed or rescheduled. Talk to the patient about the importance of their recall and what will be done at the next hygiene appointment, so it is not “just a cleaning.”

It is recommended that practices have a business staff member that is responsible and accountable for scheduling and keeping the schedule full. However, the hygienist should know how to schedule an appointment if the team is working short-handed. Once the hygienist is done with all of the clinical procedures, the last question being asked should be “What questions do you have for me?”  or “Do you have any more questions?” This is one time where closed ended questions are all right.

If the patient starts asking questions about money or insurance, the hygienist can inform the patient: “That is a great question and one that is best left for our financial coordinator to answer. She is the expert in our practice when it comes to insurance and payment options. I want to make sure I have answered all of your questions when it comes to what you need to have done. Do you have any more questions for me? If not, we will go talk to Jane, our financial coordinator.”

When it comes to going over financials with patients, this is best left to the business staff that has been hired. They are the experts when it comes to insurance, maximums, and what the patient’s record is when it comes to collecting money. The business or financial coordinator is the person that the patient wants to talk money with also. Patients like to have the money end separated from the clinical portion of their appointment.

Patient rapport with the hygienist and doctor is extremely important as you are building your practice. You do not want more people walking out the back door than you have walking in the front door of your practice. It is important to spend only the time needed at the computer that is necessary in order to input clinical notes, and not on administrative duties. The consumer is very aware of the changes in health care these days and is watching the time spent at the computer by their healthcare providers. You don’t want to lose patients because they feel there is more time spent at the computer by their hygienist than there was actually working on them. The patient needs to perceive that there was plenty of time for their clinicians to be able to provide quality of care, and answer all of their questions and not appear to be rushed.

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

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