The patients were there. We just weren’t getting enough of them back in for their routine hygiene appointments; which meant we weren’t doing all we could to help them maintain their dental health.
So, we got to work building the Hygiene Department. We implemented four things that created big changes, and ultimately helped us to go from four to 13 hygiene days per week in just a year and a half! And of course, this played a big in more than doubling the collections in my office.
When MGE asked me to share how we did this with other MGE clients, I was more than happy to! So, here goes:
1. Implement a sound reactivation and recall plan.
This step is vital and will surely get your hygiene department more productive. A key factor in recall/reactivation is to be consistent with it. Have a dedicated person whose sole job is to do recall and reactivation. That way you know it’s getting done. Patients are getting called and their next hygiene appointment scheduled. As a side note, MGE has a recall and reactivation program completely free for new clients. You can simply plug it into your office and start using it to reactivate your overdue patients. You can download it here.
2. Morning meetings
Another thing we do that has helped tremendously is our morning meetings. During the meeting, we look at any openings on my schedule and the hygiene schedule and work out as a group how we’re going to get them filled! Maybe a patient on my schedule needs a cleaning – well, we talk to them and get them to see me and the hygienist. Looking at these openings as a team works well, because each team member is taking responsibility for our patients – it’s not just the Scheduler’s job or the Hygienist’s job. It’s everyone’s focus to help get patients in for their routine hygiene appointment.
3. Pre-schedule patients before they leave
This is a BIG one. It’s a small thing you can do today that will pay off big time. All of our hygienists schedule their own appointments before the patient leaves. This works because of two reasons:
We can work with the patient right then and there to find a day that works for their schedule and they can mark it on their calendar in front of us. This way it’s done and we don’t have to try and get a hold of them later, which would often result in us not reaching them at all.
Because the Hygienist is the one scheduling them, patients are more respectful and open to scheduling their next appointment. Similar to how a patient will be more likely to do the treatment if the Doctor presents the treatment plan and price to them, they’re also more likely to schedule their hygiene appointment if the Hygienist is helping them.
Sometimes, although it’s pretty rare, we will get a cancellation even after we do all of the above. It could be because something came up for them last minute or they had an emergency… but that brings me to my next tip.
4. Track patients who don’t have appointments
It’s important to be able to keep track of all your patients and their upcoming appointments so you can see who isn’t scheduled and get them scheduled as soon as possible. We use a software called Dental Intelligence that helps us track all of our patients that don’t have an appointment. A team member then calls them and sets up their next appointment. We actually have an employee dedicated to recall and reactivation, but if you don’t then this job can be done by the Scheduling Coordinator. This way patients don’t slip through the cracks and we don’t accidentally forget about them; we’re always on top of their hygiene appointment and the patients see that we really care as a result.
And one final note: I don’t think any of this will truly work unless you, your practice and your team are organized and on the same page. Have a solid team in place to take care of recalls, reactivation, and setting up hygiene appointments – do not take everything on yourself and spread yourself too thin! In our practice, none of the doctors do Hygiene – we (and you) have much more productive cases to get done. Having 13 days of hygiene per week has made it significantly better for us and keeps the schedule very productive! You can achieve the same thing and I hope my tips above can help you do so.