Are the numbers in your hygiene department less than they were before the pandemic began?
Many offices are finding for various reasons that their department is not performing in the same way, either more openings, less production if they aren’t performing aerosol generating procedures (AGP) or patients not wanting to return to dental appointments yet during the pandemic.
We always have to remember that our hygiene schedule and ultimately our hygiene production follow a cycle, so if you aren’t busy now you are also laying the ground work that you won’t be busy three to six months from now either.
Here some tips to help improve your hygiene departments production:
- If the hygienists are not performing AGP and are doing hand scaling only, they may be spending more time with patients. If they are, then ensure that this extra time has been reflected in the patients billing.
- Alternatively, if the time being spent on patient appointments is shorter in length, then you may want to have the hygienists evaluate the appointment length of time that they are asking for the next appointment, it will need to be adjusted accordingly.
- It is time to evaluate your overall hygiene program, are all of your hygienists treating patients using the same Standard of Care? Many dentists will make the assumption that their hygiene team are all treating patients the same way, when in reality they may have different ways of deciding what perio intervals a patient will need. You will want to work with your hygiene department to develop an overall Standard of Care Protocol for your office to ensure that all patients are receiving the same recommendations regardless of their provider.
- If you experiencing more open time as patients are wanting to “wait” on their hygiene care because of Covid, I would suggest that you work with your patient/hygiene coordinator to ensure that since the return to work all patients have received two phone calls/emails/texts. Just because a patient in July said they are not ready to return to the office then they may be ready now, but it has slipped off their radar.
- Have your team print out separate lists for patients who are due now and not yet booked, patients who are 30-59 days past due, patients who are 60 to 89 days past due and patients who are 90 plus days due. These lists can be shared with the rest of the office, it may be decided that some of these patients are better contacted by someone else in the office that they have connected with previously, whether it’s their hygienist or an assistant. The assigned team member can connect with the patient and provide information that way.
- You can put together an educational email with the help of your hygienists describing the reasons why hygiene care isn’t optional for many patient’s overall health. If you combine this with the safety measures being taken in your office, it may clarify for your patients the importance of their dental visits. This information can be relayed through a mass email or mailing.
- Patients who have delayed their care may need more than one appointment or may need longer appointments. Administrators can plant this seed when the patient is booking, the hygienists can mention this to the patient prior to starting the appointment and the dentist can support this when they enter the room for the patient exam. If an appointment is extended then ensure that billing is reflective of the time spent with the patient.
- If fallow time is being used in offices using AGP then ensure that time management is effective in that lunches and breaks should coincide with fallow time for those rooms.
Throwing up your hands and saying there is nothing I can do about this, isn’t a solution. Take action yourself or ask for help to take control of the hygiene production in your office.