Post By Dr. Mark Kleive
One of the things that I’ve discovered in my career is the importance of the contributions that the hygiene department makes my practice both in patient services and patient development. I’ve also been clear that the hygiene department also has a role to play in the financial “engine” of the practice with three particular factors playing a part in this departments’ efficiency.
The first factor is mix of services. If the bulk of the patient services are from prophylaxis and there is not additional contribution from periodontal services – many consultants recommend around 33 percent of total hygiene production – there may be lost opportunities. Appropriate additions to mix of services could also include soft tissue management, fluoride or Chlorhexidine applications, antibiotic placement, radiographs, hygiene instruction and sale-able hygiene adjuncts to name a few.
The second factor is the fee schedule. If the fee schedule for hygiene services is low you can expect that the contribution of hygiene services to the practice will also be low. Dentists and teams typically undervalue the fees for services that they provide and no other fees are as visible to the patient as hygiene services. With this in mind many practices have unusually low fees in the hygiene department. Adjusting fees for the care, skill and judgment of the hygiene department is important for the ongoing health of the practice.
The third factor to influence the contribution of the hygiene department is the amount of open time or non-patient care. Logically when there are no patients in the schedule there is no contribution coming from the hygiene department – a real bummer! The efforts made to achieve and maintain efficient hygiene schedules are paramount.
If the hygiene department’s contribution to your practice’s financial “engine” is below your expectation, you can point to one or more of these three factors for further study and implementation.