The Value of a Hygiene Appointment
Offices come to us quite often with the complaint that they are having a lot of no-shows and last minute cancellations in the hygiene schedule, and they are unable to fill them. I wish I could tell you the answer to miraculously fixing this problem, but there is no simple answer. What we are able to do is reduce the amount of last minute cancellations and no-shows by changing the dental team's words and actions within and outside the dental practice.
Words and actions can send the message to patients that the hygiene appointment is not that important or valuable. For instance, I have received in the mail and witnessed many practices sending out marketing postcards that offer a $49 special for a cleaning, any necessary x-rays and a new patient exam with the doctor. I have to ask a question of anyone that may have done this: what kind of patients are you attracting? Do you really think they will pay full price for any other services, or even continue with their recommended recall if they have to pay more than $49? What are we saying a hygiene appointment is worth if we are willing to give it up for almost nothing?
Yes, this will put people in the chair initially for the existing and the new practice, but user beware - those patients may not return, as they will move on to the next dental practice willing to sell their product for less than the value it really should have placed on it.
Other examples of how dental offices are saying it is acceptable for you to be overdue is when the office has to cancel the patient’s appointment and they do not reschedule them within the next week, or the patient calls for their hygiene appointment and they do not get scheduled immediately because of all the 6 month pre-booking. However, all the front office has to do to rectify this is to inform the patient by saying something like: “Sam, I am not able to get you in immediately, but we have changes in our schedule on a regular basis and if I should have a change in the schedule, would it be all right if I call you immediately and see if we can get you in earlier than you are scheduled now? It is very important that we keep you on schedule for your hygiene appointments.”
Notice I did not mention that the changes are because of cancellations or no-shows. These changes may be because the hygienist added time to her schedule. This is also the perfect person to put on your ASAP list. The more people you are able to get onto this list, the more people you have to call when there is a last minute cancellation or no-show.
Then there is the office that has too many things for the hygienist to do. Post set complete appointments, make the next hygiene appointment, do treatment plans, get necessary x-rays, perform oral cancer screening exams, do periodontal probings, check blood pressure, look for possible decay, take intra oral camera pictures, have the doctor do the periodic exam…leaving hardly any time for the actual scaling.
Yes, the hygienist may get the scaling done as fast as she can, but how comfortable is the patient? What quality of dentistry is being implemented? Is there any patient rapport being established? Many patients have made their way to my chair and stayed for years to come because the hygienist before me was not able to do a good scaling due to time limitations.
It is not a “cleaning” or “just a cleaning appointment.” The hygienist is doing far more during the scheduled time than just a cleaning. It is a hygiene appointment, and it is priceless when used correctly to help build a practice, keep the doctors schedule full, and keep patients from leaving out the back door.
Interested in improving your hygiene department? Email email@example.com and ask us about our 1-Day Hygiene Training Program.
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