Many dental practices have implemented an assisted hygiene program. Many offices are still on the fence and need to know if this will fit their business model.
The profession of dental hygiene has improved over the past 20 years and if we are forward thinking about how we can benefit our patients and add value to the practice, assisted hygiene (AH) can be a benefit to your patient care and your current business model.
Many dental practices have implemented an assisted hygiene (AH) program but are not utilizing it to its full potential. One of the reasons it may not be utilized at its full potential is because of misunderstanding the concept. What comes to mind when you think of assisted hygiene (AH)? Do you think treadmill or roller coaster? Assisted hygiene (AH) is not about getting more patients in for a “cleaning” and it is not a lower standard of care. The opportunity is to develop optimal care around a preventive patient centered practice.
The challenge is to develop this course of action where the hygiene team can continually strive to develop optimum oral health and preventive patient care with consistency and effectiveness.
A systematic approach is key to making this seamless. Cross-training the hygiene department and having the operatories set up the same in a systematic manner will promote a system of effectiveness. The hygienist and assistant must acknowledge the benefit of sharing duties which overlap their scopes of practice and contribute to the success of the assisted hygiene program.
Define what assessments are to be completed during the hygiene appointment and which auxiliary can perform these assessments. The hygiene team in particular needs to meet and write down what screenings will be completed and at what intervals. An example may be: “At each preventive appointment patients will receive the medical history review and an oral cancer screening. The patient will also receive a caries risk assessment form and this will be reviewed by an auxiliary. The auxiliary will ask about xerostomia (dry mouth) and give oral hygiene instructions (or a review of) before the patient leaves the operatory.”
“Annually each patient seen for preventive treatments will receive a full mouth periodontal screening exam, a blood pressure screening and smile analysis.” This is just an example so you may want to meet and decide what is in the best interest of the patients and your practice model.
Once you meet with the team and create this model you will nurture and create an atmosphere of optimal patient-centered care.
It is very important that you develop a customized and written protocol so each member of the assisted hygiene (AH) team and even future members of the assisted hygiene (AH) team can acknowledge, accept their role and responsibility within this new business model. The written protocol will include the daily goal(s) for production and may even include how many referrals you ask for from current patients. The written protocol will include challenges and how they will be handled, when to implement new technologies, budgets for new equipment and treatment adjuncts to continue improving the quality of patient care.
Scheduling is very important and the various patient treatments (procedures) need to be categorized into low, medium or high production. Having specific blocks of time pre-scheduled in the appointment book will also help keep the assisted hygiene (AH) program on track for not only a patient centered practice of optimal care but will help the team meet production goals.
Determine your expectations and each persons’ perceptions. Be open to listening to your patients’ perceptions about this change or implemented program. This awareness will help you and the team to proceed with clarity for success and to progress towards peak performance with a patient centered preventive program.
Journey through Peaks and Valleys
These are just a few guidelines to begin your journey for patient centered hygiene care. Possibly you already use the assisted hygiene (AH) business model. There will always be peaks and valleys in anything we do in life.
Even if you have already implemented this program of assisted hygiene (AH) you may consider the expertise of a hygiene coach or consultant as they are the experts who will provide the team with powerful solutions to bring the valleys up to peak performance.
When you become clear about your values and understand everyone’s perception not only will you exceed your expectations but those of your patients.
Happy Patient = Continued Success!