In today’s post-recession economy, many dentist practices continue to struggle. One of the best solutions for this problem is to reinvent and reimagine the dental hygiene department. Many dental hygienists miss opportunities to make patients aware of potential treatment options and beneficial practice services. The dental hygienist spends more time with patients than other team members, since appointments generally run between 40-60 minutes. It’s time for dental hygienists to take advantage of that time, finding ways to improve productivity.
Show the True Value of Dental Hygiene Appointments
One of the most important ways that dental hygienists can improve productivity is to show patients the true value of dental hygiene appointments. Many dental practices simply refer to hygiene appointments as “recall” or “cleaning” visits. However, these names don’t really show the value of these appointments to patients. Coming up with a new name that shows off the value of the visit will make patients realize that they are receiving a valuable service. Never refer to dental hygiene appointments as “just a cleaning.” When you show patients the value of these appointments, they are more likely to keep these appointments, boosting the productivity of the dental hygiene department.
Offer More Services to Add Value
Consider offering more services to patients to add value. Some great adjunct recare services that you may want to offer to patients include antibacterial therapy, whitening, and sealants. Dental hygienists may also want to offer dental care products that patients can use to improve their oral hygiene at home. Adding value by offering more services and dental care products can help build trust between patients and a hygienist, making them more likely to return to the hygienist for their next appointment.
Don’t Forget Appointment Confirmations
No shows can really eat into the profit and productivity of a dental hygiene department. However, there’s a great way to reduce no shows – start confirming dental hygiene appointments a couple days in advance. One of the best ways to do this is to call the patient’s cellphone. Another option is to send a patient a reminder text, as long as you have permission to text from the patient. These options often get a more positive response than calling landline telephones or sending out postcards. Email can also be used to contact a patient to remind them about their appointment.
Why should you take care of appointment confirmations a couple days in advance? This allows the practice enough time to schedule another patient if another patient needs to change his or her appointment.
Schedule the Next Visit Immediately
Before the current patient leaves the office, it’s important to schedule the next visit immediately. The hygienist should let the patient know that they need to schedule their next hygiene appointment. Once again, this is a good time to remind patients of the value of these appointments. The front desk team should also be trained to ensure that patients book their next appointment before they leave the office. This way patients stay on schedule, which helps them maintain their oral health while improving the productivity of the dental hygiene department.