Many years ago most dental practices gave the hygienist 40 – 50 minutes to provide preventive and non-surgical periodontal treatment for their patients. The hygienist had one treatment room to complete the appointment.
Dentistry changes very quickly and with research and technology we have many paradigm shifts. Most offices now offer one hour hygiene appointments for their patients. Many offices also have an untapped hygiene potential. Many offices also have empty treatment rooms or their treatment rooms are filled with an overflow of unused equipment, offices supplies or just a place to put an overflow of patients.
How can we take advantage of the untapped revenue from patients who have not been into your office for the past year or two? What about those patients who have not said “Yes” to non-surgical periodontal treatment? Where will all these patients be put into a schedule which has one hygienist and four days in the week which you are open to see patients?
How can you develop a positive patient centered plan so patients can been seen in the hygiene room and you don’t have to add another $150.00 per hour to your overhead and more days of work to your schedule?
Having a plan in place can be one of with a “win-win” result. The patients can leave your office feeling well cared for and your end of the revenue will be sky high when you implement a well thought out plan.
Meetings are number one
Everyone on the team needs to embrace this new working model or possibly you are revisiting the assisted hygiene model you currently have in place. Patients also need to become aware that you are an office that is preventive and patient centered practice. These thoughts and your vision can be shared through implementation of your mission statement and code of ethics. (aka: Practice Principles) Share these important statements in everything you do; on the walls of the office, in your newsletters, brochures, website, Facebook Fan Page, etc. The take away here is that patients need to understand they are Number 1 and they are important. The assisted hygiene model will not work if patients don’t feel like they are a priority. Patients will leave the office if they feel it’s all about the money. Sometimes you may need to bring in a coach or consultant who can direct this assisted hygiene model.
Communication is key
We know that with good oral health patients can improve their overall health. This is scientifically proven. When you begin asking patients “How long do you want to live a healthy life”, when you share your knowledge about the oral/systemic link, patients will sit up and listen. Patients will absolutely know you care about their total well being when you communicate in this manner.
This is only one way to get patients to say “Yes” to their treatment needs and schedule their appointments no matter if money is an objection. People buy what they want not necessarily want they need. Most people want to live a longer and healthier life.
Communication is also key within the team. When setting up the assisted hygiene model it is of primary importance not only to communicate with all but delegate to the team members. When delegating, also have written protocols so everyone can remain on the same page. Identify all the auxiliaries’ duties and have them written down in a notebook or manual. The goal of assisted hygiene is not to hire an assistant to seat the patient and then clean up. Plan out who will seat the patient and then review the medical history, take x-rays, provide oral hygiene instructions and even make future appointments. Making appointments in the hygiene room can be a new concept to many but it makes perfect sense to have future hygiene appointments scheduled in the hygiene room. The hygiene department knows exactly what the patient needs are and this is where the initial buy in of future treatment came from. When you understand a working communication model this makes sense. It keeps a direct line of communication.
The goal of assisted hygiene is to improve patient care, provide optimal care for all patients in the practice, provide a less stressful atmosphere for the team and increase the bottom line of the dental business. The hygiene department when set up correctly is a profit center and a valuable department in the dental business model. The hygiene department when set up correctly adds great value to your dental practice.
When the assistant and hygienist(s) have communicated and written their responsibilities and expectations down you will have a dynamic team that is patient centered. Your patients will know they are well cared for, your team will be happy and the bottom line (your revenue) will be in the black.
Happy Patient = Happy Team = Successful Dental Practice
More on this next week….