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Rachel Wall, R.D.H., B.A., is one of the nation’s top dental hygiene consultants and founder of Inspired Hygiene. She and her team have five top benchmarks in mind when they evaluate a dental practice's hygiene program. All five benchmarks apply to practices of all sizes and to dental service organizations (DSOs).

 

Rachel Wall, R.D.H., B.A., is one of the nation’s top dental hygiene consultants and founder of Inspired Hygiene. She and her team have five top benchmarks in mind when they evaluate a dental practice's hygiene program. All five benchmarks apply to practices of all sizes and to dental service organizations (DSOs).

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Your goal is to grow your dental hygiene program and make it more profitable. Where do you start? By understanding where you are now. The following five benchmarks tell the story.

 

1. What is your periodontal services percentage?

“We want to look at the objectives of the practice,” says Wall. “Sometimes it’s tangible. Sometimes it's intangible, but as far as the things that we can specifically measure, we always like to look first at the Perio percentage.”

Inspired Hygiene recommends practices be at 35% periodontal treatment, such as scaling and root planing and perio maintenance, compared to prophylaxis treatment. Often a low Perio percentage indicates there isn’t enough time on the schedule to bring patients back for treatment. Other times, the dental practice just hasn't made perio treatment a priority.

If your periodontal services percentage is less than 35%, make periodontal treatment a priority and adjust your schedule to bring patients back for the higher level perio treatment they need.

 

2. What is the profitability of your Hygiene Department?

The second thing Inspired Hygiene’s consultants look at is profitability. How profitable is the Hygiene department for the practice?

Profitability is a sign of a healthy business. Every department in the practice should be creating profit for the business that can be reinvested in the practice. The Hygiene department should be producing at least three times their compensation. Then we feel they have reached that first level of profitability.

Have you reached the first level of profitability = 3x Hygiene compensation? If not, you should work to reach this level and beyond. It is achievable.

 

3. Do you have open time on your Hygiene schedule?

Inspired Hygiene recommends there should be 8% to 10% open time in the Hygiene schedule. Often, we see practices where unutilized time is up to 20 percent. This could be a cancellation and no-show issue, but sometimes it’s a supply and demand issue. Perhaps, they have set aside more Hygiene hours so they can expand but have not grown into those hours yet. They are focused on bringing in more new patients with the anticipation that new patients will need more high-level treatments. 

Is the open time on your Hygiene schedule more or less than 8% to 10%?  In order to have the room to schedule new patients and more Perio treatment, but not under-utilize Hygiene hours, Inspired Hygiene recommends maintaining a range of 8% to 10% open time and not more. 

 

4. What % of restorative treatment is being enrolled through Hygiene?

A large percentage of that doctor's treatment should be coming out of the Hygiene department. This means that the hygienist should have the confidence and empowerment to tee-up treatment for the doctor. We think the percentage of restorative treatment enrolled through Hygiene should be 60%. This enrollment is a combined effort of the hygienist and dentist working together.

Is your % of restorative treatment coming out of Hygiene less than 60%? You may have a lot of untapped potential to enroll more restorative treatment. 

 

5. Are your hygienists open to learning and development?

Inspired Hygiene takes into consideration how open-minded the hygienists are to learning and development. Measuring the attitudes and energy of your hygienists is more subjective than objective, but there are ways to assess their mindset.

What is their attitude towards being coached to improvement? If your hygienists are excited about learning and growing in a positive environment, all the other benchmarks are going to improve with training. The growth success your hygienists experience will fuel their passion for more learning and development.

Are your hygienists excited about doing higher level perio treatment and teeing up patients for restorative treatment? Consider what needs to transpire for that to come about. Make an investment of time and energy, maybe money, in their training and empowerment.

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