12.2.11 Issue #508 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Hygienists: It's Time to Face Economic Reality
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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In 95% of the practices McKenzie Management works with, hygiene alone is losing $35,000 $150,000 annually, and that number has likely gone up over the past 24 months. This says nothing of the thousands of dollars in additional dentistry that also disappears, all because key team members simply don't fully understand the economic impact on the practice when patients aren't in the chair.

To maximize the effectiveness of your hygiene department, follow the “Rule of 33.” This means that the hygiene department is expected to produce 33% of the total office production, not including doctor's exams. Each hygienist provides 33% of her/his production in periodontal procedures such as periodontal maintenance, and the hygienist’s compensation should be no more than 33% of his/her production. If the hygienist receives a guaranteed salary, the expectation must be that s/he produces three times his/her wages. If the hygienist is paid $40 an hour and the cost of the prophy, not including the doctor’s exam, is $80, the hygienist is making 50 cents on the dollar, well above the 33% benchmark. To determine where you stand on the Rule of 33, retrieve the production analysis reports from the practice's management software.

Next, every hygienist needs to think like the VP of Production. Not only do you need to view yourself as a dedicated healthcare provider, you also need to recognize your extremely critical role in production. And like it or not, it is production that affects the economic success of the practice and individual team members.

Too many hygienists never feel the need to learn business skills. And some even resent the fact that they are, at times, expected to look at their departments from a business perspective. For many, it is not until their incomes or job security is affected that they recognize the importance of becoming an active participant in the business side of the practice.

While employees may never be as personally invested in the business as the owner, the prospect of taking a cut in benefits, a wage freeze, or a reduction in hours should cause a team player to pay better attention to the business side of the practice and how they can directly make a difference. Read on.

Hygienists: It is essential that you have a clear understanding of what you produce per day, per week, per month, or per year for your practice. Monitoring your daily production is as easy as downloading the Daily Hygiene Monitor Form from the McKenzie Management website, or creating your own daily log with the following information:

  1. The date.
  2. The names of the patients scheduled. Patients that cancel or don’t show get a “CA” (for cancel) or “NS” (for no-show) next to their name.
  3. Number of hours you are paid for that day.
  4. Open time (time that was never booked by the scheduling coordinator). All time increments should be based on 10-minute units. So, a 60-minute appointment accounts for 6 units.
  5. All procedures performed on each patient that day.
  6. Procedures charged out of hygiene.
  7. The total fee for each patient that day.
  8. The amount you produced that day.

Once you have created your log, check off what you did on each patient and total it for that day. To determine production per hour, add up your total production for that day and divide it by the hours you were paid, not the hours you saw patients. If you're paid for an eight-hour day but only saw seven patients, you will take the total daily amount, let's say it is $1,000, and divide it by eight.

Therefore, your hourly production for that day is $125 an hour. The office lost money in two ways during that open hour. First, it lost money because of open production time. Second, you continued to earn a salary during that hour.

Recession or no recession, your role in the business of dentistry is critical. And as this soft economy continues to linger, there is no better time than now to not only face the economic realities, but take specific actions to address them.

Want more of me? Click here to visit my blog, The Lighter Side, for more Dental Practice Management info.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com. Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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