In this guest post, Priscilla Parra from My Office Fairy explains how practices can generate more hygiene production with a few easy tweaks to their processes.
What is the hygiene department? Patients getting some kind of cleaning by a hygienist or a dentist? That's one aspect of it but, to have a successful hygiene department, it must involve more.
Is everyone on your team on the same page? Are there protocols for how to handle situations, such as refusal of X-rays? Do appointments run behind, and do your patients constantly cancel at the last minute?
This is all part of it! If any of these areas are deficient, you are not only losing production but you are not truly running your practice to its highest potential.
"The hygiene department is vital to sustaining the practice."
We should all know by now that the hygiene department is vital to sustaining the practice. So, how do we ensure that it's running properly? For one thing, evaluate the aspects mentioned above! Fixing these issues is not an easy feat, and will not happen overnight!
Unfortunately, and I say this from experience, it may require the help of an outside source. Internally, it becomes almost impossible to fix because the situation took time to get to this point in the first place. Everyone is now stuck in the routine of bad habits. I'm not trying to sound gloomy; there are a few small steps you can take internally to make improvements.
First of all, start setting some hygiene production goals. Once you have them, get every member of the team on the same page!
Recently, I was speaking about these issues with one of the best hygienists I've ever had the pleasure to work with. Her comment was, "If the staff is not on the same page with the doctor and the doctor's goals are not clearly set, it's just not going to work well and they will not truly be a team."
"Set production goals and get everyone on the same page"
She hit the nail on the head. But, unfortunately, not every member of your team will be a team player. And this changes the dynamics in your office (but I'll have to save that topic for another post!).
Another small, but extremely significant, change you can make is to your cancellation policy. Enforce it! If your patients are used to calling the day of their appointment to cancel, and your front office always lets them do it without enforcing a fee, why would a patient ever do something different?
"Not enforcing your no-show or cancellation policy tells patients your time is not valuable."
Not enforcing a fee after two or three failures to show, or last-minute cancellations, gives the patient the sense that your time is not valuable. They won't argue with a hotel for enforcing similar protocols, why should your practice not hold a higher regard?
Additionally, what is your confirmation system?
Are you calling two days before to remind people? If so, is that the only reminder the patient receives?
We are too deep into the 21st century to only utilize this type of system. You might as well use a typewriter to provide treatment estimates.
Humans are busier than ever, and we need all the help we can get to remember things!
"A digital reminder system will eliminate the time spent making phone calls."
Not everyone is good at saving things on their calendar. And although it is technically a courtesy to remind our patients about their appointments, the reality is that it ultimately affects the practice's bottom line.
Utilizing a digital reminder system will eliminate the time spent making phone calls. But even then, not every system is as efficient as it could be.
If you only use email, not everyone checks their emails daily (my husband has 3,000 unread emails according to the little icon on his phone). And not everyone reads all of their texts or checks their voicemails.
"Send at least three reminders and use at least three methods."
The extra few hundred dollars that you spend on an efficient confirmation system will end up earning you more kept appointments. And, it will save you money by the way of allowing your staff to work on other tasks besides confirmation!
The last thing I want to say about confirmation software is that, as a current dental staff member of 15 years and a consultant, I have tried every option out there. They are not all created equal: you get what you pay or don't pay for!
Priscilla Parra began her career in the dental field in 2000, and in 2014 created My Office Fairy with the goal of providing administrative support services and helping businesses thrive.
Learn more about how RevenueWell improves case acceptance and creates more close-knit relationships between dentists and their patients.