Attn: Office Managers, Make the Most of Your Doctor’s ‘Great’ Ideas
Jean Gallienne RDH BS
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It seems that lately I have been receiving many questions about how and who should be monitoring the production of the hygienist. Naturally the software in our operating systems allows for this production to be monitored, but how often and how many hygienists even look at those numbers? I have also been asked what exactly is considered hygiene production? Then there are always the offices that participate with insurance companies that pay at reduced fee plans and they want to know how to make the hygienist aware of her actual production dollars accepted as full fee. Many hygienists are not aware of the amount the doctor actually receives as payment and they need to be.
When I first started hygiene, I did not know anything at all when it came to my production and how it has a direct affect on my salary and benefits. One of the best things, so far, that ever happened to my career as a clinical hygienist was when I started working at an office where it was part of my job description to monitor my daily production. All of a sudden it started to make sense to me. That coming to work, doing my job to the best of my ability and working hard was not the only thing that determined my salary potential. It was kind of like being a child that thinks that as long as there are checks in the checkbook, there is money available or let’s just go to the ATM and get money out. We all know as an adult that is not the way it is. There must be money in the account in order to pay all of the costs involved in running our home or practice.
First, lets look at some of the procedures that are considered hygiene production:
Professionally applied fluoride
X-rays taken by the hygienist
Now, how do we monitor what is being produced. McKenzie Management actually has a downloadable monitor that will help with this procedure. It really does not require much time at all. Here are a few of the things that will need to be monitored:
The last name of every patient is written down on the monitor.
The treatment given is recorded
How many hours worked that day
No show units are tracked
Canceled units are tracked
Open units are tracked
In the morning when the hygienist goes through the patient’s record for the morning meeting, she will write down the names of her patients on the monitor. Once she has actually completed the treatment, it will be recorded on the monitor with a simple check mark. At this time there will not be a fee recorded unless your office does not participate with any insurance companies that pay at a reduced fee.
For those offices that do participate in insurance plans that pay at a reduced fee, the hygienist will be given the day sheet report the next day, after the front desk has verified that all treatments were posted correctly and to the correct provider. When the hygienist has one or two minutes available in her day, she will go through and write down the actual fee paid to the doctor by the insurance company or patient. Once the hygienist has done this, he or she will add up all of the fees paid for that day. This will give you and the hygienist his/her production for that day. More importantly, the hygienist should now take that figure and divide it by the actual hours worked that day. Yes, actual clinical hours. If the hygienist works a half hour over the normally scheduled day of eight hours then 8.5 would divide the total fees paid for that day, in order to come up with the actual hourly production.
I also want to share with you that when I was first told I had to start monitoring my production, my first thought was, “Great just one more thing I have to do in an all ready tight schedule.” Well, as you can see my thoughts have changed over the years and so has my income. I am now grateful for having been asked to monitor my production as a hygienist. The great thing is, I have never had to compromise the quality of care provided to my patients in order to increase my production.
In addition to monitoring the hygienist, your office may be surprised to find how much treatment is not getting posted at all or to the wrong provider. Thus creating one more check and balance when it comes to the production of your practice.
Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department? Email email@example.com.
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Computer software technology is here to stay because it efficiently and accurately manages clinical and business data. However, learning how to use this technology differs from one team member to another and can cause costly and unfortunate turnover when there is a judgment placed on how quickly team members should learn the software, digital x-rays, intra-oral devices or any other types of technology. Consistency has been shown to be very important to the patients’ experience in the dental office. Patients do not like to see constant change in staff in their dental office. According to Dr. Howard Farran from his article “The Gifted Boss”, January 2007 issue of DentalTown, he has witnessed and recorded for years that “the dental offices pulling in over $1,000,000 per year has had the average staff member for more than six years while the dentist netting only $80,000 per year has a staff averaging two years.”
Patient attrition due to constant staff turnover can be significant because patients will wonder what happened to the popular staff member that they had come to trust. The new computer software technology has forced us to measure our team member’s skill level much like we measure their ability to collect money or to make temporary crowns. Before dismissing a valued team member, ask yourself if diligent training would solve the problem. The two following stories are true; the names have been changed, and demonstrate common phenomena.
Staff, patients and doctors found Elise, the dental hygienist, to be a supportive team player that was excellent at promoting dental care. However her tone was sad as she said to me, “Belle, I just got fired from my Friday job because I am not fast enough on the computer. They said that I was great with the patients and the staff liked me but I was too slow a learner. My other job on Monday and Wednesday is great and they are now requiring me to schedule on the computer, but they have allowed me to learn at my own pace, however, it still hurts that I was fired.”
Dental Assistant, Marty, training to be an Office Manager said “ I had worked as a temporary employee for a number of years because I have a difficult time learning the computer software. I was let go from a couple of jobs because I was not fast enough on the computer. I found a position with a doctor that is taking the extra time to train me and I am doing great. I finally have been given the chance to succeed.”
Learning the dental software program requires training and practice to master. Some people will learn quicker than others. It is important to write down the steps necessary to achieve the tasks for staff that are slower learners or part-time staff that don’t have the opportunity to use the system daily. The computer software needs to be mastered quickly so that mistakes are not made on a continual basis and the focus can be put on patient care and practice growth. Have the trainees practice on demo systems before turning them loose on patients. Your software provider has training and support packages available. Support should be called whenever you are stuck and need help. Before you call support, write down what you want to achieve. For instance, if you want to know how many patients you have on a certain insurance plan ask how you can create that report and then write down the pathway to get there. You will not remember after a couple of days if you don’t write it down. Creating your own computer software-training manual will make it easier to train staff. Create a “team centered” training program in your office and designate those team members that have mastered the system to act as trainers or support to slow learners. You will not be able to create the synergy to move your practice to a higher level of production unless you take the necessary steps to support your team with training in all areas necessary for the success of your practice. Long-term, dedicated team members are developed and nurtured over time. The latest and the greatest technology are only as good as the people who use it correctly. The Advanced Training Courses offered at McKenzie Management show you how to combine dental systems with modern technology to achieve a productive and prosperous dental practice.