The hygiene department can (and should) be a robust, profitable part of the practice. Here's how we do it:
1/3 of practice production should be coming from the hygiene department.
Many practice owners mistakenly think of hygiene care as a "loss leader" in the business, effective in getting patients in the door, but generally bringing in less money than it costs to run.
To fix this, many practices will try...
All of this results in rushed appointments, team burnout, and a negative patient experience. Patients don't get the comprehensive care they deserve and the team gets increasingly frustrated.
Gone are the days when the job of a hygienist was simply to clean teeth. Today, hygienists have access to the latest research, technology, and resources to provide truly comprehensive preventative care. Hygienists have an arsenal of preventative treatments available to patients to lower their risks, reduce sensitivity, and protect teeth.
Additionally, patients have more access to information and more options for care. If your practice isn't giving patients the options they want, they'll simply go elsewhere.
QUESTION: "If patients have more preventative care options, will they say no to needed restorative treatment?"
No, that hasn't been our experience. Ultimately, the goal is to give patients all the options available and then make recommendations and educate them about what's best.
It's the job of the dental team to present needed care and it's the job of the patient to make the final decision. This is the most ethical way to provide dental care.
Put simply, patients are at a much greater risk for infection and disease if periodontal health is left unaddressed. Oral infections are linked to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, respiratory disease, pregnancy complications, and more.
When patients know these risks, they’re more open to accepting treatment. It’s the responsibility of the hygienist to educate patients on perio therapy and the oral-systemic link.
Also keep in mind: If periodontal disease is left undiscussed with patients, the practice opens itself up to lawsuits. It’s vital to protect patients and protect the business by training hygienists on the best periodontal care.
QUESTION: "What if something isn't covered by insurance? Our patients won't say yes to that."
It's true that there are some patients who won't accept any treatment that isn't covered by insurance. But, many will.
With the right conversations, education, and tools (i.e., technology that shows them what's actually happening inside their mouth), we've found that most patients readily accept the care they need. And, we've found this to be true in all practice communities (rural, urban, affluent, middle class, and poor).
Did you know that 75% of restorative care in practices comes from hygiene?
Hygienists play an essential role in restorative dentistry. When patients are presented with needed restorative care, hygienists can help answer questions, alleviate concerns, and encourage patients to accept the care they need. When hygienists advocate for greater patient health, case acceptance rises and patient health improves.
To get better results, dentists and hygienists need to work together to provide guidance and support to patients when it comes to treatment decisions.
QUESTION: "Does all of this mean more work for hygienists? We're already strapped for time."
With the right appointment structure, hygienists have the time needed to utilize their skills, provide better care to patients, and have the necessary conversations to educate and connect with them.
Our goal with hygiene is to create better results and a better patient experience and that means giving them the right tools and allowing adequate time for care.
Counterintuitively, shortening appointment times doesn't improve production or efficiency. Below is an example structure of a 30-minute hygiene appointment with a 4-minute turnaround time between patients.
*Note: This appointment will feel rushed to both the hygienist and the patient. If the turnaround time is longer than 4 minutes (which is often the case), the essential parts of the appointment will be cut even shorter.
Using this 60-minute appointment structure results in a better patient experience and an increase in production because:
*Important: Before you extend appointment times to 60 minutes or add these elements to your appointments, be sure your hygiene team has the training and tools to effectively deliver these services to patients and can have the conversations that accompany them.
Doctors and hygienists need to be partners in patient care and work together to improve the health of patients.
When everyone is on the same page about what's best for patients and what's best for the future of the practice, patients get a better experience and practice performance improves rapidly.
Ready to get started? Hygiene Explosion is our signature in-office hygiene training day designed to give your team an immediate boost in production and elevate the standard of care in the practice.
In order to transform your hygiene department into a true profit center, we strongly recommend incorporating production-based hygiene compensation.
Click below to watch videos of how to attract great team members and how to structure effective compensation packages.