I was recently doing some coaching at a dental practice, and they asked how they could make their hygiene schedule more efficient. They currently schedule all prophy and perio appointments for 60 minutes and, upon checkout, have been adjusting the time on the patient’s appointment to reflect the actual time the appointment took. They feel that tailoring the appointment time needed per patient will enable them to accommodate more hygiene patients and increase hygiene revenue.
While this scheduling technique could help to free additional hygiene time and allow more hygiene patients per day, my own personal experience with this method did not work. My experience was that, when a patient would cancel, finding another patient who needed that same amount of appointment time was a challenge. We were required to keep multiple lists; a list for patients that require 30 minutes, those that need 40 minutes, 60 minutes, etc. We gave this method a good effort and tried it for about a year before deciding it did not work well for us.
Here are four tips that can help you accommodate more hygiene patients and increase hygiene revenue:
1: Add hygiene days
First, ask yourself these questions: Are there enough active patients to add a hygiene day? Do you have chair availability? Do you have patients to reactivate?
- Determine the number of active hygiene patients—those seen in the past year for a prophy or perio.
- Since most patients’ average twice a year for a hygiene visit, multiply that figure by two and add the number of new patients seen.
- Eg: 1,500 active hygiene patients + (20 new patients per month, which is 240 per year) = 1,740 x 2 = 3480 hygiene appointments needed. Compare that number to the number of available hygiene appointments.
- Two hygienists working 4 days a week, seeing 8 patients per day each, and working 48 weeks a year = 1536 hygiene appointments currently available.
- 3,480 needed – 3072 available = 408/48 weeks = 8 patients per week. In this scenario, the hygiene department should be increased 1 days per week.
2: Switch to assisted hygiene
Reduce hygiene appointment times by switching to assisted hygiene. This will allow you to reduce the hygiene appointment time without adding stress to your hygienist. The assistant will help with x-rays, perio charting, health history updates, etc.
3: Utilize buffers
To reduce appointment times for unassisted hygiene, leave a buffer before and after lunch, and before the end of the day for catch-up.
- Typical hygiene schedule with 60 minutes appointments will accommodate 8 patients per day; changing to 50-minute appointments = 9 patients per day; changing to 45 minutes = 10 patients per day
Another tip to keep your schedule running on time is to have the hygienist use the first few minutes of any hygiene appointment preparing for the doctor’s exam. Get the Medical History Update, Periodontal Charting, X-rays, etc, out of the way. Then the doctor can do the exam when he or she is ready.
Whichever method you choose for your office, remember what is most important is not compromising the quality of patient care delivered.
If you found these ideas helpful, you may be interested in learning more about the Dentrix Profitability Coaching Program, where these, and many other great concepts, strategies and ideas are taught to you and your team by one of our highly skilled and experienced profitability coaches. To find out more about Dentrix Profitability Coaching, CLICK HERE.