Today’s dental hygienists account for, on average, 30% of a practice’s revenue. They’re armed with the skills and competencies that can ultimately enhance a practice’s reputation when it comes to prevention and treatment. The combination of treatment skills and ongoing development in the field makes these team members an integral part of any practice. According to Heidi Arndt, RDH, BSDH, “The healthiest, most profitable dental practices have a strong and high performing dental hygiene team.” But, she says, there’s still more room to grow. Here are four tips for ensuring a practice is making the most of its dental hygiene service.
1. Provide education: Learning doesn’t stop at certification; it continues throughout a dental hygienist’s career. One way to ensure hygienists understand the economics of their work is to show them how dental hygiene fits into the overall success of the practice and patient care. For example, show how the hours worked and fees for procedures impact overall revenue and patient health.
2. Establish expectations: Performance can be tracked in many ways, but it’s just as important to make sure a dental hygiene team understands what’s expected of them – from delivering the best possible patient care efficiently to following infection control guidelines and ultimately being a team player. A way to analyze success is by considering hygiene productivity and profitability, what services are being done most often (including periodontal and preventative care in addition to cleaning), scheduling (ensuring that work is meted out effectively), and patient retention.
3. Empower hygienists: Partnerships between dentists and dental hygienists can be an important key to a practice’s success, but it requires a certain amount of trust and empowerment. One way to gauge this is by taking a look at what procedures hygienists are trained to do, and what they are ultimately doing. For example, if a hygienist is certified to perform nonsurgical periodontal treatments, how often is he or she doing them?
4. Recognize great work: Everyone likes to be rewarded for their work, which is why it’s important to build opportunities for recognition into the schedule. Whether it’s naming a hygienist of the month or simply making the time to acknowledge the work a team is doing, building loyalty and showing appreciation can go a long way in cementing teamwork at a practice.
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