Hygiene Infrastructure

By Heidi Arndt

Creating a structure for success for your hygiene team

There are a number of factors that differentiate a successful hygiene team from another. One of the main differentiating factors in the dental group setting is the infrastructure they create to support their hygiene team.

Infrastructure development and the use of organizational resources to improve efficiency and expand productivity is key to growth and ongoing success. This structure can be used to solve problems within the organization or as a way to analyze a process and find a more efficient way of doing it. Implementing a strong structure requires an investment of time and money. But when you understand its importance, you can justify the costs.

Hygiene brings 30 percent of your total group revenue, and will require a strong structure to operate successfully year after year. Whether you have two locations or over 10 locations, you must have these core components to your hygiene infrastructure.

Statistical dashboard
In order to understand your hygiene business you will need to create a series of reports and a dashboard. Your dashboard will provide you a look at the following key hygiene and key success indicators necessary to develop and growth a profitable hygiene department. Your dashboard should track items like:

  • Total revenue
  • Production per hour, or production per patient
  •  Periodontal %,
  • Hygiene profit margin
  • Additional clinical key success indicators you choose.

Having quality reports will help you plan, manage and coach your hygiene team. These reports will also help you identify potential issues or opportunities, well before you may feel the obvious impact in the practice itself.

Objectives and goals
Once you have the dashboard to guide the execution of your hygiene team, you can identify and set strong performance objectives and goals for your hygiene team. These objectives and goals will guide your hygiene team, and clearly align them with where the business should go. Your dashboard will give you tangible information to hold your team accountable to these goals and objectives.

Clear protocols and systems
In order for your hygiene team to create consistency in patient care and performance, clear patient care protocols and patient care systems must be in place. These protocols will ensure patients are receiving a high level of clinical care. Again, your dashboard should include information that will help you track how well the hygiene team is following and adhering to the protocols and systems you have implemented. For example, based on a recent report from the CDC and the Academy of Periodontology, periodontal disease affects 1 in 2 American adults. With this information, you can expect to see 50 percent of your adult hygiene patients being treated for periodontal disease.

Social operating system
Frequent and regular communication with your team regarding their performance, goals and organizational updates is important to keeping your team motivated and happy. Creating a meeting and communication structure will help your team stay “in the know” and feel informed, engaged and accountable.

Orientation program
Whether you’re growing by acquisition or growing your existing practices, you need to have an orientation program for the entire team, and one specifically for your hygiene team. This orientation should include ensuring all new team members are up to date with items related to Infection control (OSHA, etc.). You’ll also want to ensure they are educated and well versed on the protocols, systems, objectives and goals of the group. Every team member should be fully introduced and educated before they see the first patient under their new role in your group.

Mentoring program
Mentoring and coaching programs have been used in dental groups for the past 10 years. American Dental Partners successfully uses a dental hygiene and doctor-mentoring program within their affiliated dental groups. These mentoring programs provide side-by-side support and training to the clinician, and the outcome from this program has been phenomenal. The dental hygienists and doctors enjoy the relationship they develop with their mentors. They feel connected, heard and supported in the dental group structure. As a result, these team members are committed to the dental group and become long-term, high-performing clinicians.

Mentoring and coaching programs will set you apart from many dental groups and practices in the marketplace; and will propel your dental hygiene team to be strong and committed partners in your practice.

Professional development
How will you continue to educate and expand the knowledge and skills of your dental hygiene team? With a quality professional development program. This program will be your continuing educational commitment for your team. Ideally, your group would create their own continuing education curriculum for your team. This can be done by first getting the AGD or CERP certification for providing continuing education for your team. Or, you can rely on external educators, speakers and product companies to help you create this type of support. With a quality professional development program for your clinical team, you can fuel your recruitment power in the community as well.

Peer review
Ensuring quality patient care is our most important task, but how can you truly ensure your team is providing the best care possible?

Implementing a strong peer review process is key. Your peer review process will include record audits to ensure proper care and adherence to protocol; and it will also be used to identify and help the provider that is providing sub-par care. Record audits should be completed on a monthly or quarterly basis, but could be sparked more frequently by a patient complaint, concerns from another provider, or outliers on the dashboard you create. Again, having a quality peer review process will set you apart from the crowd and provide you, your providers and your patients confidence in your quality standards.

A successful and profitable hygiene team does not happen by accident. The constant training and support they receive is the key to their success. Creating a structure to support your hygiene team is crucial to the success of your entire group.

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