As the dental industry becomes commodified, great service is essential to increased production. Hygiene teams are an important part of that mix, especially when they’ve been trained to provide higher-level, patient-focused service. Rachel Wall, RDH, BS of Inspired Hygiene has made it her mission to take hygiene teams to the next level of patient care and productivity. She talked with PDA about what makes a hygiene team truly great, and how you can inspire your team while improving their skills.
What is the most common mistake you see good hygiene teams making?
Getting stuck in the prophy or perio maintenance trap. We’ve seen both general and perio practices struggling to manage active perio disease in a prophy or perio maintenance visit when moving the patient back into active therapy is in the patient’s best interest. Bleeding is very often the #1 sign of active disease and when this isn’t measured and charted, there’s not basis for a diagnosis and patients continue to have chronic disease that is not thoroughly addressed.
Why is it important for dentists to develop the talents and capabilities of their hygiene teams?
The hygiene team has the potential to be the backbone of the practice by building long-lasting relationships with patients and helping them say yes to treatment. Active co-diagnosis for perio and restorative procedures make a dentist’s job easier, less stressful, and allows the dentist to focus on a high level of client and clinical care. Hygienists who feel that their employer is investing in them are much more likely to be engaged and motivated to continually improve themselves. The byproduct is improved patient health (which makes the dentist’s job easier), more patient referrals, better time management and less stress overall.
Why is the perio-systemic link still overlooked in so many practices? Why is it so important for a productive practice to address this link?
I think it’s overlooked because there aren’t clear diagnostic systems in place to detect active infection. So if infection isn’t acknowledged, the oral-systemic link may not be recognized. In my experience, once a team truly embraces the oral systemic link, they will dedicate the time required to connect the dots for themselves and the patients, and then oral systemic link comes alive.
Ideally, how should a hygiene team contribute to the overall hourly and daily production for a practice?
In addition to how hygiene affects their own production, hygienists play a critical role in filling the dentist’s schedule with high-level care. Hygienists are absolutely qualified to pre-diagnosis decay, failing restorations and periodontal disease, as well as to recommend other interventions such as sleep apnea therapies and cosmetic dentistry.
What are three areas a hygiene team should examine if they want to increase their production and play a more significant role in the health of the practice?
They must evaluate the effectiveness of:
#1 Their perio diagnosis, enrollment and treatment systems
#2 Their role in the diagnosis and enrollment of restorative and other supportive therapies
#3 Their systems for keeping patients active in recare
What are some signs that a hygiene team is ready to take their work to the next level?
Hygiene teams that struggle with time management are very often in a great position to evaluate their current systems for patient education and communication, co-diagnosis, identifying and treating periodontal disease, instrumentation, scheduling… and the list goes on and on. And struggling with time management doesn’t always mean running over on appointments. Sometimes it can be dismissing the patient too early.
What improvements have you seen in practices that have embraced your coaching and methods?
We routinely see teams enjoy a 5-figure increase in monthly hygiene production, more effective and efficient hygiene-doctor exams, less waiting for doctor exams, increased restorative treatment enrolled in hygiene, a heightened awareness and commitment to improving patients overall health through dental care, the entire team on the same page with verbal skills and a common belief system around preventive and therapeutic hygiene care. And last but most important, we love seeing hygienists come alive in their careers after years of being frustrated and burned out. The investment made in coaching for the hygiene team always pays big returns for the patients, the providers and the practice.
Take your hygiene team to the next level. Learn more about PDA Productivity Workshops or call (888) 709-7769.