Last week we began discussing the age-old question as to when is the correct time or correct moment for the dentist to go and do the dental examination in the hygiene room.
And a very good question it is.
Should the dentist do this examination when it suits the dentist, or should the hygiene room appointment follow a certain set script and time frame?
The choice here is one that I hear and see so often.
Some practices are adamant that their way is the right way, and even more adamant that any other ways are the wrong ways.
Last week we took a good hard look at things from the dentist’s point of view.
Today I’ll look at things from the point of view that every hygiene room appointment should indeed follow a certain set script and time frame.
Five Reasons Why The Hygiene Room Appointment Should Follow A Certain Set Script And Time Frame
Firstly, some pre-requisites required to ensure success:
The practice, and the team members, must have an inherent desire to run to time, and be efficient at running to time and be efficient at time management.
There is absolutely no point in enforcing a structured time dependent system on a practice that has no core belief in efficiency.
A practice that does not set daily monetary goals and outcome goals has very little motivation to be adopting a system that will expand the production and collections of the office.
And sure, there are practices that still operate an appointment schedule of randomness and who don’t see a need to change it and are still very busy from sunrise to sunset, and booked weeks in advance.
All I’ll say here is that I’ve seen one of those practices change, and adopt a structured hygiene appointment system, and change from collecting $60K per month to a whopping $150K per month in a time frame of less than two years.Worth considering?
And all they did was take a step backwards, breathe in deeply, and adopt change….
If all of the team members cannot see or fail to see the end purpose of following a certain set script and time frame, then the adoption of a system will present significant challenges.
So let’s get down to those reasons:
1. Hygiene is the backbone of the dental practice.
A full hygiene book is the backbone of the dental practice.
These are the patients who have committed to regular hygiene maintenance treatments of whatever frequency is necessary, so that they can maintain their teeth for as long as possible.
As such, they are patients committed to good health.
They are committed to the health of their mouth.
And they deserve respect.
They should never be considered as “just a clean” patients, and their visits should never be thought of as being less important in the scheme of things than appointments of a restorative nature.
And so, as such, the hygiene visit *demands* structure.
It needs to be respected.
2. The workings of the hygiene visit need definite structure.
Here’s how we did things in my dental practice:
Our appointments in hygiene were strictly one-hour appointments. [Our patients were primarily adult patients.]
If a patient required more than one hour to have their mouth cleaned by the hygienist then the hygienist had the authority to schedule extra appointments.
As such, most patients on regular hygiene maintenance programmes were debrided, and cleaned and examined, and educated, during a sixty minute appointment.
And the hygiene component of that appointment needed to be completed by the forty minute mark.
This was one of our dental practice non-negotiables.
Everything else that we did in our dental schedule revolved around this binding principle that the dentist would be in doing an examination with the hygienist at some point between the forty minute and fifty minute marks of the hygiene appointment.
3. All patients of the practice understand that this is how we do things.
For the patient in the dentist’s room having restorative work done, they know, that from time to time, the dentist may need to leave them for a few minutes to go and do a hygiene examination.And they are good with this, because they know, that on other days when they are in hygiene having their maintenance, then the dentist will be called away from another patient to see them.
There’s no begrudgement about this.
All patients in the dental office know that this is how the dentist is shared around during the day.
When the dentist leaves his restorative patient for a few minutes, it is usually at a time in their appointment where they are welcoming of a small time-out, and during his short absence they are always attended to by a dental assistant who engages with them in specific social conversation.
4. It is such a pleasure for the dentist to be examining cleaned mouths.
5. A well-structured hygiene appointment assists the dentist with treatment planning and diagnosis.
The hygienist should be able to photograph and show and explain to the patient before and during their cleaning and debridement, any areas of concern that she sees in their mouth, so that the patient is alerted prior to the dentist arriving to do the dental examination.in so sharing these discoveries with the patient, the hygienist may be able to prepare the patient for the most likely treatments necessary, along with any other options that could be possible, before the dentist does their examination.
All dental offices that I see operating their hygiene visits using the above mentioned principles are high achieving dental offices.
The using of these efficiencies of time management as discussed still allow these offices to provide and to operate with excellent customer service protocols that are outstanding in their delivery.
And are so outstanding, that the patients are in awe.
And this awesomeness comes about because of the offices regimented maintenance of hidden time deadlines within their hygiene department.
Structure builds further structure.
It is impossible to build great structure upon weak foundations.
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