Yup! It’s not only possible – it’s not hard to achieve. And a large part of this is getting your overdue and inactive patients to come back.
In my previous two articles, Should Dentists Focus on Active or Total Patient Count? and Are You Losing Patients? I went over how to look at your patient count from a business perspective and calculate your patient attrition. In this article, I want to show you how to calculate your Hygiene Department’s potential so you can plan accordingly.
What I like about Hygiene is that it’s straight linear math, meaning you can project the Hygiene Department six months in advance. It makes planning for growth simple.
So, what I want to do here is show you how we can use your total number of charts to forecast what Hygiene should be doing:
Calculating Your Potential
We created a free calculator for you to use so you can see your hygiene potential and how your current production matches up. Click here to use the calculator.
Now, let’s look at an example. Let’s say we figured out that we have 2,500 charts over 3 years. To figure out what our Hygiene Department should be doing, we take 2,500 and multiply by two – because every patient should come in at least twice a year.
(Related: Jumpstart Your Hygiene Department)
So, now we see that every year we should have 5,000 recall appointments. Now, let’s take our 5,000 recall appointments and remove 40% to account for attrition. Yes, this is a high number – and most likely your attrition rate will not be this high. We’re in effect overestimating to stay on the “safe side,” and I would expect that you would lose far less. But in any event, we’re going to use this 40%. That leaves us with 3,000 potential recall visits a year.
Now, from that let’s find out how much we should be doing in a week. If we’re open 50 weeks this year, we’ll take 3,000 and divide it by 50 (this assumes your office is closed for two weeks per year). Doing that, we’ll see we should have 60 recall visits per week – that’s my maximum potential at the moment. This will increase, though, as you add new patients. And keep in mind this is recall visits – not periodontal therapy or new patient visits if your hygienist sees new patients. And truthfully this number might even be a little higher if you have patients on 3 and 4 month recalls (we only accounted for two visits (6 month recalls) in the formula above. Oh, and don’t forget we have a calculator at the bottom of this article that calculates this exact formula for you. Simply fill it out, and it’ll email you your results!
Comparing Your Current Production to Your Potential
Now, let’s find out how your Hygiene Department has actually been performing – and what percentage of your potential you’re actually seeing. For this, take how many recall visits you’ve been averaging per week over the past few months – and again remember this is RECALL visits only.
Let’s say the number is 20 a week.
So, we divide 20 visits a week by the 60 potential visits and we get 33%.
Is 33% of a recall rate good? Not really. But, 67% of the practice is ready to come in right now! And we have all their information, know what dental issues they have, and we can get in touch with them. So, this calculation is a really positive thing. And it’s okay to have a low number because it means we have some people we can contact.
So, now that we know we should have 60 per week but we’re only seeing 20, we can find out how many days of hygiene we should have based on our total number of charts. So, if we’re supposed to see 60 per week, then we know we should have 7 ½ days of hygiene per week (at 8 patients a day). And since we’re only open 4 days a week, that means we need one four day a week and one three and a half days a week hygienist if we work a four-day week. Truthfully you probably need two full time (or more) if your hygienists see new patients or do periodontal therapy. This is a great problem to have! It means we can get more productive.
Getting More Productive
Now, if you’re looking at this example, or better yet you decide to do your own calculation, and you start to think, “There’s no way I can get there. I’m not busy enough in hygiene…” there are a few things you should do:
(Related: 9 Ways to Fill Last Minute Hygiene Openings)
- We know we should be busier, and as an owner and businessperson, we need to make the organization meet those numbers. So, open up another day of hygiene about 6-8 weeks in the future and start scheduling patients there. This may mean you need to hire another hygienist. Go ahead and do so. 6-8 weeks gives you time to do this. The point is we need to get the organization busy. If you’re just satisfied that hygiene is full and don’t grow your Hygiene Department, you’ll lose patients that you spent a lot of money on to acquire. So, don’t be satisfied!
- Start getting overdue or inactive patients back in the chair. We call this “Reactivation.” It means proactively reaching out to overdue and inactive patients (even ones who haven’t been seen in years) by phone, email, mail, etc, and scheduling them to come back in for hygiene. Doing this successfully requires three things:
- Time set aside every week for front office employees to work on reactivation. You may even need to hire someone if your front office is already too busy. This may seem intimidating, but trust me, it pays major dividends in increased hygiene and doctor production, as well as practice value.
- Training for these employees on how to be effective at reaching patients over the phone, scheduling them and getting them to show up. We provide this training for you at DDSsuccess.com. I highly suggest taking advantage. You can schedule a free demo here.
- A program outlining the sequence of phone calls, emails, letters, etc, that they should doing that they can follow and keep organized with. Schedule a free Hygiene Assessment with an MGE consultant and we’ll give you our turn-key Reactivation Program free of charge so your team can get to work on it immediately.
- We can now forecast the future. We now know that we should have 7.5 days of hygiene per week based off the numbers we used. And again what’s really great about that number is it doesn’t include new patients, perio programs, etc. It’s the minimum number we should do.
For example: If we’re forecasting the next six months and if we saw 50 patients this month, how many can we expect to come in for hygiene Month 6? We can expect 30 (again, we’re taking that 40% attrition off).
Since we know that now, we can start to plan for the future; I can set my minimum number and my maximum number and tell my Scheduling Coordinator that these are the numbers we have to hit, and we can arrange to add an extra day of hygiene at that time.
So, let’s focus on reactivating your best source and that’s the patient that hasn’t been in in awhile! This is the fastest and most sustainable way to make the practice grow.
Again, we’re offering a complimentary Hygiene Assessment and Reactivation Program for new clients. So give us a call at (800) 640-1140 or fill out the form here to schedule your assessment.
I hope this article can be a helpful resource in growing your Hygiene Department!