Increase Hygiene Production for the New Year
Do you know what your hygiene department did last year, other than clean teeth? Was this a profitable portion of your business? Are there areas that can be improved? Just as important, does your hygiene team know the answers to these questions? Most offices come back from the holidays and just start doing dentistry and hygiene as usual. They continue to have no-shows, cancelations and open time, and wonder why nothing changes. Looking at the numbers is not just about looking at the dollars made and lost. It is also tracking how much open time, cancellations, and no-shows the hygiene department had.
By knowing what happened in the past, you can begin to foresee the future and determine how much hygiene time you really need. Just because you have a hygienist leave your practice, it does not necessarily mean you have to replace the day or two that he or she is not working. It may be best to look at exactly how many days you had open last year, and determine the need. What percentage of your hygiene department is periodontal? It should be 33% according to industry standards.
Find out how many of your patients are on a 6-month recall. Should they be on a 3 or 4 month recall based on the health of their mouth? What is healthy? Should they have been root planed, or even root planed again, because they refuse to do surgery at the periodontist office? We can’t cure periodontal disease, we can only slow it down. But are you doing everything that should be done, or are you allowing insurance to dictate the needs of the patient?
There is nothing wrong with making about the same hourly production and paying out less in overhead. Having the right amount of hygiene time available on your books is important. Many offices hire a hygienist because the schedule is booked out, and it is difficult to make appointments for the patient in front of them or on the phone because every patient is pre-booked. This is fine as long as they are the type of patient who will make their appointment no matter what is going on, or will cancel far enough in advance for you to fill the time.
When it comes to hiring a new hygienist, you should not just look at how far out you are booked. You may want to look at how much time was not utilized for patient care the year before. You may also want to look at your patient retention and determine if the practice is growing or getting smaller, before you hire new employees. Pre-booking can be very deceiving. If you are not going to cut back on the amount of hygiene time you have, you need to decide what to do in order to fill the open time. Looking at the year-end numbers will help determine what is needed.
If you want your practice to grow, you need to look at what approach you are going to take. The easiest and cheapest is asking your existing patients for referrals. The entire team should be asking your favorite patients for referrals. You can also ask patients to fill out a review online and/or gather patient testimonials. With today’s technology, many people turn to the internet to find a new dentist based on reviews. Online presence is very important to the growth of your practice.
Another approach is to educate your team. Specifically, teach them how to educate the patients. What is said, how it is said, and the tone that is used can make a difference as to whether a patient will accept treatment. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a hygienist and/or doctor say, “I think…” The patient does not want to know what you think, they want to know what you know, and how to treat it. This may seem critical, but it is amazing how much one word can change the entire value and perceived need of treatment.
Do yourself and your practice a favor and really look at all the numbers. Knowing where you stand and where you want to go at the beginning of the year may make all the difference.
Interested in improving your hygiene department? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask us about our 1-Day Hygiene Training Program or call 877-777-6151
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