Dental hygiene appointments are a major revenue driver for most dental practices. They are responsible for about one-third of total production numbers for most practices. Making the most of these appointments can help to improve profitability.
A recent study shows that there is room for improvement. Just 17 percent of dentists say most of their active patients keep hygiene appointments every six months, and at least one in ten appointments are no-shows.
The department can train to increase case acceptance and promote elective services. In fact, hygiene numbers could increase as much as five times among current, active patients with some diligent planning.
How Much Does a Hygiene Department Contribute to a Dental Practice?
Numbers vary, but one industry benchmark suggests that each hygienist should produce around three times their wages, or about 33 to 35 percent of the practice total. If you want to improve your margin, your department could benefit from systemization.
Start with a hard look at the numbers. Each month, analyze the hygiene department’s finances. Look at the collection to production ratio, no-shows, and the time spent with each patient. Studying these numbers will help to identify ways to maximize the department’s productivity.
It can be a challenge to keep prophylaxis appointments moving while giving each patient maximum attention. The average time spent on scaling – 20 to 30 minutes – can present an optimal time to educate patients on oral health, focus on case acceptance, and discuss elective procedures.
Make sure your team educates patients on the importance of dental hygiene exams and the consequences of skipping them. Some patients view these appointments as mere teeth cleanings; they likely don’t have a grasp on all of the benefits of cleanings and examinations.
Emphasize the need for regular oral cancer screenings as well: how one person dies every hour of an oral cancer and how simple, painless exams can detect a problem early enough to treat it successfully.
Improve Case Acceptance and No-Shows
After analyzing your hygiene department, scrutinize and revamp your appointment confirmation system. Some practices set up their hygienists to schedule next appointments chairside or escort patients to the front desk.
Another way to decrease no-shows is by sending multiple reminders through a variety of mediums such as phone calls, texts, emails, and physical postcards. Some practices call or text a day or two before the appointment.
While some of your patients might balk at multiple messages, they are less likely to ignore them. Make sure patients understand that a missed appointment robs another patient of an opportunity to receive care and treatment.