There's a lot going on in a dental office. A typical day will bring you into contact with a wide variety of patients for a wide range of reasons, from simple cleanings to complicated restorative procedures.
When you’re busy helping people and immersed in providing dental care, it’s easy to miss out on highly profitable opportunities right in front of you.
You might be surprised to learn that many dental practices — perhaps even yours — are missing out on at least six figures of revenue per hygienist per year.
What do we mean?
If you run your business like a large bulk of dental practices out there, your hygienists treat less than ten patients most days, along with providing ancillary services (e.g., bitewings) and prophylaxis treatments.
Obviously, the treatments listed above are crucial, but you could use the hygiene department in your practice far more than you do now.
Patient care could be far more comprehensive.
And in an economy where everything is in a continual state of flux, you need to squeeze every last iota of value from your resources, hygiene department included.
What if we told you that you can build the pathway to heightened production for your hygienists through The Hygiene Maximizer approach? From there, you’ll provide a previously unprecedented level of high-level patient care, driving your practice’s production to new, soaring heights: between $100,000 and $200,000 more per hygienist per year.
To help you get started, we’ve outlined the 5 main principles to help you utilize this philosophy in your practice.
1. Ensure Almost Every Single One of Your Patients is Scheduled at All Times
According to the Levin Group, a dental consultancy recently featured by Dental Economics, most practices have less than 90% of their active patients booked, with many dropping below the 70% mark.
It goes without saying that you can’t provide top-level care without regularly scheduling patients to keep returning. That’s a core tenet of optimal oral health.
There’s a need for a paradigm shift in this area for many practices. Instead of sticking to basic hygiene care and making assessments based on hyper-evident dental needs, it’s time to kick things up a notch, which entails informing patients about:
- Cosmetic procedures
- Other elective treatments
- All other potential services
We understand you don’t want to be sales-oriented with your patients. But there’s a difference between pushy sales tactics and educating hygiene patients about all that’s available to them.
Here are some suggestions for how you can implement this approach:
- Complete a full analysis of all patients’ hygiene and dental needs during every appointment.
- Ensure each patient returns once every seven years for a complete exam
- Use PreViser or another similar predictive index to offer a thorough report on each patient’s periodontal health status.
Another way to drive up those bookings is to call overdue patients. Ensure the hygienist makes the call because this technique adds a personal touch.
2. Cultivate a Well-Rounded Approach to Dentistry That Prioritizes Hygiene
In the hustle and bustle of everyday practice life, it's only natural to focus your energy on restorative patients. However, just because we’re instinctually driven toward a behaviour doesn’t mean it’s the correct course of action.
While restorative treatments and immediate patient needs require your attention as a dentist, that can’t come at the cost of hygiene care. Checking on hygiene patients for a perfunctory minute to make any obvious diagnoses plainly isn’t enough, especially for your bottom line.
The Hygiene Maximizer philosophy requires that you provide a more comprehensive experience through the following actions:
- Hygienists will do a complete analysis (without making an official diagnosis) of a patient’s intraoral condition.
- Hygienists, therefore, must be trained to flag all signs that hygiene treatments or elective procedures might be viable.
- A thorough patient examination, including a cosmetic exam, tooth exam, periodontal exam, occlusal exam, and implant exam, will help hygienists identify treatment opportunities.
This might seem like a lot of extra work. Still, your hygiene department should be responsible for up to 30% of your practice’s overall productivity. Offering this more well-rounded care is how you get to that number.
3. Be a Patient-First Dental Practice
Okay, let’s be real. It’s nobody’s idea of a luxury to spend time on a dentist’s (or dental hygienist’s) seat.
Sure, most of us know an appointment can be a good experience, especially when your practice is run well. Regardless, it’s no picnic for patients.
So it’s important to keep giving patients reasons to come back, starting with the practitioner-patient relationship.
- Fortunately, the Hygiene Maximizer is patient-forward, encouraging you to:
- Learn about the patient beyond the dental chairs
- Connect with them based on common interests
Use each hygiene appointment to enhance the client-hygienist relationship
Successful practices grow because they treat patients as valued and appreciated clients/customers.
And even incredibly busy patients make time for appointments at a practice where they are valued and appreciated.
Additionally, focusing on at-home care will fortify a patient’s trust in hygienists, which entails:
- Promoting at-home oral health products to patients (this can make a hugely positive impact on a patient’s oral hygiene, establishing goodwill and showing you care).
- Offer in-office dispensing of dental water jets (or similar at-home care products), offering your patients a better price on these items than would be otherwise available.
4. Doctors and Hygienists Must Have a Strong Relationship Built on Communication
After a hygienist has performed the 5-stage examination and informed the patient about various potential treatments, they should meet with the dentist. The conversation should span one to two minutes and shouldn’t happen in the treatment room.
This meeting ensures cohesiveness between doctor and hygienist, further educating the dentist on their patient to reinforce and bolster the hygienists' message.
In short, the hygienist should tell the dentist about what they’ve discovered, recommended, and about any personal details. Knowing there’s a wedding in eight months, for instance, might drive someone toward cosmetic surgery earlier than if there were no pending nuptials.
5. Bolster Hygiene Production
Hygienists need a checklist containing possible hygiene-based treatment options.
Also, note that selling products in-office provides the chance to make recommendations to–and earn credibility with–patients. There’s, of course, the additional revenue that comes with dispensing these items yourself.
By selling these hygiene products, you make your patients’ lives easier, too (they don’t have to run around looking for these items). And you’re allowing your hygienists to sell and earn more for your practice.
Products to include are:
- Dental water jets
- Power toothbrushes
- Whitening kits
You should unite your team around all your overarching practice goals. Specifically, ensuring that everyone is focused on these sales goals will boost hygiene-based productivity and profitability.
5 Steps to a More Profitable Practice
By following these five steps, hygienists will improve vastly in their roles because the process will be more comprehensive. They’ll also be learning from the dentist because they’ll be in constant communication.
And the dentist will learn more about their patients from the hygienists to provide superior care, all while pulling in more revenue. This approach makes your patients’ lives better first, but it’s also centred around your hygienists bolstering your bottom line.