Creating Same-Day Opportunities in Hygiene

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.

By Heidi Arndt

Have you ever wondered how to grow your hygiene and doctor revenue based on the schedules that you have on your books today? Is it reasonable to believe you can capitalize on same day care in hygiene?

When the hygiene appointment is well orchestrated, it will present big opportunities for same-day care. And, it is not all about the dirty word ‘upselling.’ In fact, it is quite the opposite. When every dental hygiene appointment starts with a strong comprehensive assessment, it allows the patient and the hygienists to identify the needs and wants of the patient, and then for the team to create immediate action to help the patient receive necessary care.

Today’s dental patient is busier than ever. They want convenience, they want immediate appointments and they want to minimize the amount of times they need to return for additional appointments. Anything that makes life easier is welcome for today’s over-scheduled, time-constrained patient.

Futuredontics (www.futuredontics.com) recently completed a survey asking dental patients what they want. In the survey, 33 percent of the patients want a dentist that offers immediate appointments. And that convenience rang true as 1 in 4 patients said they would leave their current dentist if the practice hours or ability to schedule an appointment was inconvenient.

To capitalize on same day treatment your team must be trained and focused on the following items.

Have a clear understanding of same-day treatment options

The entire team needs to understand what same-day treatment looks like, and how to adequately integrate them without creating bottlenecks or disruptions to the schedules. There are several same-day options the hygiene team should focus on:

  • Fluoride varnish when a Caries Risk Assessment has been completed and indicates moderate or high risk.
  • Sealants for pediatric patients, and for those with moderate – high risk for caries.
  • Desensitizing treatment for the patients who are struggling with sensitivity.
  • Radiographs when necessary. Why do I mention this? We see it frequently where dental hygienists are not updating radiographs unless it has been listed on the appointment. The hygiene team must be responsible for identifying when the patient is due and updating.
  • Whitening, whitening, whitening. Why has this become a thing of the past? Are we not making it convenient for our patients? If the patients is asking about whitening, we need to offer them an instant solution, or they will be at the drug store or the salon getting the services we failed to offer them.
  • During scaling/root planing and periodontal maintenance, the hygienist should consider if there are any adjunctive services that would support a strong treatment outcome. This could be the use of Arestin, Atridox, PerioChip or Lasers. Each one of these are simple services that when planned by the doctor can be added to the appointment without adding more time into the schedule.

In addition, your team should always be looking for ways to optimize the schedule. Consider the last-minute appointment cancellations most hygiene schedules experience daily. We should always be asking ourselves: “How can I serve the patients I have in the practice currently with the open time available?”

Here is an example: A patient has just been treatment planned for Scaling/Root Planing. With the current openings in your schedule, is there a way to accommodate the patient and start treatment today? Consider all providers’ schedules when looking for opportunities. This may mean swapping patients between hygienists to accommodate same day treatment for the patients.

The entire team must also be focused on how to move a patient from the hygiene room straight into the doctor’s schedule for procedures such as a filling, crown, impressions for night guard, whitening, etc.

In fact, the team should always be looking for opportunities to serve the patients with convenience. When a diagnosis and treatment plan are made in the hygiene room, how soon can the patient get them into the doctor’s chair for treatment? The team should always start looking for same-day options.

Be flexible
The entire team must be flexible and focused on providing same day care when possible. Each team member will play a role in the process and everyone needs to be on the same page. The front office needs to be prepared to present the financial close in the treatment room. In some cases, the hygiene and assistant teams should also be trained on the financial close, as they will be responsible for presenting the smaller adjunctive services. (Example: Fluoride varnish, Sealants, Desentizing, etc.)

The assistants and hygienists must work together to ensure treatment rooms are clean and prepared to accommodate a same day treatment opportunity.

 

Plan
The morning huddle needs to be efficient and focused on how to create patient opportunities without creating chaos for the team. Identify areas where same-day treatment can be facilitated. Starting the day on the same page will help the team navigate the day with ease.

Track and reward
With Dental Intel (www.dentalintel.com), you can track the amount of same-day treatment presented and accepted by each providing team. We recently watched a team go from presenting only $172,000/month in same day treatment with a 34 percent acceptance rate, to $466,500/month with a 65 percent acceptance rate. This was a game changer for the practice. And guess what, they did it without feeling like they were crunched for time. They just had to shift the way they looked at their work day.

Convenience is the top priority for patients. Consider how to create convenience for your patients while helping your team and your practice win with big returns.

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