Balancing Act

Your hygiene schedules are your revenue solution

Heidi Arndt, RDH, BSDH has worked in the dental field for 18+ years. Her experience ranges from working as a treatment coordinator, dental assistant, and practice manager before graduating from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor’s degree in Dental Hygiene. In 2011, Heidi founded Enhanced Hygiene. She is dedicated to helping dental practices realize their total hygiene profit potential through the development of their hygiene team, quality patient care, patient-centric service and by empowering the entire team.

Heidi Arndt, RDH, BSDH has worked in the dental field for 18+ years. Her experience ranges from working as a treatment coordinator,
dental assistant, and practice manager before graduating from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor’s degree in Dental Hygiene. In 2011, Heidi founded
Enhanced Hygiene. She is dedicated to helping dental practices realize their total hygiene profit potential through the development of their hygiene team, quality patient care, patient-centric service and by empowering the entire team.

This year, we have noticed more and more practices enjoying busy, booked-out hygiene schedules. I recently had an office proudly tell me they were booked out 13 weeks. Yes, this was a huge feat for this particular office, as they had finally bounced back after struggling for years.

However, their victory was also their biggest challenge. Their hygiene schedules were completely scheduled out for 13 weeks. They had no hygiene appointments available to address new patients or their periodontal patients. Their hygiene schedules and their revenue were completely locked down to their already scheduled recall prophy or periodontal maintenance patients for the next 13 weeks.

If the hygienist were to inform the patient of a periodontal infection, they were unable to get the patient in for non-surgical treatment for 13 weeks. As a result of this, the hygienists started to “watch and wait” with periodontal infections, because they had little chance of getting them back into the schedule for the necessary non-surgical treatment anyway.

Not only that, the front office refrained from working the recall list, because they truly had no place to put these patients.

The maxed out hygiene schedules were killing any opportunity for growth.

From maxed to margin

Does this sound like your office? If so, here is what I suggest you do.

No. 1: Add more hygiene hours or days to your practice. If your practice is booked out beyond six weeks with no open times for your periodontal or new patients, then you need to add more hygiene time. Your new patients should never have to wait more than two weeks for an appointment. This is especially true, if you are still focusing on building your practice.

Second, upon diagnoses of periodontal disease, your patients should be seen for their non-surgical periodontal therapy appointment within two weeks. Remember, infections need to be treated ASAP.

No. 2: Prioritize your time. Once you have added additional hygiene time, you need to go through your hygiene schedule and template it to include blocks for your priority patients – periodontal patients and new patients. Design these templates based on the goals for your practice, and the current demand using your periodontal percentage as your guide.

Yes, we all love to see full schedules, but we also need to ensure they are productive and are addressing the needs of the patient base and the goals of the practice.

Don’t be afraid to add more hygiene time or hours to your schedule. Start conservatively and add days as you need. Remember, there are many hygienists looking for additional work, so you will have no problem finding a qualified candidate for your office.

Focusing in on your hygiene schedules will add massive revenue to your hygiene business. Adding hours, and creating more productive days!

Incremental steps
One of our clients was booked solid in hygiene for 12 weeks, with recall and periodontal maintenance patients.

There was no availability in the hygiene schedule to bring in new patients or non-surgical periodontal patients, so we had to add hygiene time to the practice. The doctor was concerned about adding too much hygiene time, so we started off with two days a month to open up the hygiene schedule to accommodate the periodontal therapy and new patients.

Within two weeks of opening up the two hygiene days a month, they were still booked out over six weeks. With some discussion, we added two more days, and they filled up, too. He has now added a total of six hygiene days a month and turned these hygiene days into extremely productive days through the addition of templated schedules.

With a committed effort to creating efficient and effective schedules, this practice was able to improve patient access, patient care and they increased their hygiene revenue by 48 percent in one quarter.

Without an adjustment in the hygiene schedule, their hygiene revenue would have been paralyzed. But now, they are prospering. And, the doctor has started to book out his schedule more due to the increased flow of patients and treatment plans from the hygiene chair. Truly a win-win.

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