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Most offices don’t give their hygiene department enough attention. This is a make it or break it benchmark that is high on my list of numbers you need to address. Too often we look at hygiene as sort of a “loss leader” component of our offices. Managed care and poor reimbursements for hygiene services only contribute to this mentality. Holding this thought may be the most common and most devastating mistake we can make and need to correct.

Regardless of where you are, how much you produce, or how busy or slow your office is, your hygiene department should be producing at least 33% of your total office production. If total office production is $100,000 a month, then your hygiene department should be responsible for $33,000, or about one third, of that total production/collection number. Needless to say, the hygiene department must be a profit center. In my office the hygiene department accounted for millions each year.

Another component of hygiene is how much a hygienist should produce per eight-hour day. They need to produce at least three times what they are paid (pay, taxes, benefits, bonuses, uniforms, and if you do assisted hygiene, the cost of the assistant and their ancillary costs to the practice). In todays dollars, that will need to be production in the $1,200-$2,000 (or more) per day. Secondly your hygienist can’t produce at a reasonable level on just hygiene recall. New patients and at least about 20% to 30% perio in the form of scaling and root planing is paramount to building a healthy hygiene department. You will need to have at least 30 or so new patients for each hygienist per month. Finally, you need a recall rate exceeding 80%. Failing this, you will see several ripple effects in other parts of your practice.
• Case acceptance drops significantly. You should be partnering with your staff to help patients want the treatment that they need. In my office the hygienists were “the key component” to case acceptance.
• Direct referrals are well below 50%. Direct referrals are a major indicator of how well the hygiene department represents the culture of your practice. Poor production in hygiene departments indicate a lack of engagement on their part.
• Overall production on the doctor’s side drops. Knowing that 67% of everything you will ever produce in your chair(s) comes as a result of hygiene recall, you must make sure that part of that success is the direct responsibility of your hygienist along with those systems and protocols that manage this process.
• Poor esprit-de-corps in your office. Firing on all eight cylinders involves creating a committed team. Low performance in hygiene is the direct result of not developing your leadership skills.
• Higher than normal turnover of hygiene staff. Patients want to see the same faces when they come in at each visit. Losing your staff due to a poor selection process or inadequate onboarding (training) is seen from the patient’s perspective that you are a poor doctor and difficult to work with.

Hygiene success was the number one reason we became that Super General Dental Practice. I want to be sure that you have the resources needed for fixing a broken program and developing a healthy hygiene department. If you will email Max Gotcher at [email protected], he can show you how to get our reports on The Hygiene Factor and 100% Case Acceptance. These two documents have drastically changed the profitability and production levels in thousands of practices. This is how you Summit.

Michael Abernathy, DDS
972-523-4660 cell
[email protected]

PS. TIME IS RUNNING OUT! Please consider joining us Oct. 26-27 for MYTH BUSTERS. We will explore: how to stand out in this era of increased commoditization; a blueprint for dental practice growth and survival; stages of practice growth; Dentist vs CEO; multiple models of highly prosperous practices; adding doctors and/or locations; and much, much more.

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