Authors: Emme Sanders, RDH and Rachel Wall, RDH, BS
Being a dental hygienist is no longer solely about cleaning teeth; it’s a multifaceted profession that has evolved to embrace a partnership with healthcare. This collaboration has resulted in a profound positive impact on patients’ lives, underlining the crucial link between oral health and overall well-being.
Emme Sanders was recently interviewed by Jacquelyn Hurley, Director for Dental Zing, on the Growing Your Dental Business podcast. They talked about what it takes to create benchmark opportunities for a thriving hygiene department. Click the image below for the episode.
To ensure the success of your hygiene department from a clinical and business standpoint, it’s important to monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) that reflect the effectiveness of your practices. Let’s delve into some of the most crucial benchmarks that can help elevate your dental hygiene department’s performance.
- Periodontal Percentage 30-50%
The ADA, CDC and AAP state that a significant portion of the adult population, 50-75%, suffers from some level of periodontal disease. Developing an effective periodontal diagnosis and treatment protocol is essential for a dental hygiene department to properly care for patients.
Knowing the Periodontal Percentage of your practice is the top KPI to evaluate whether a clear periodontal protocol is in place and being consistently implemented. Many practice owners are not aware of this KPI and what it means to their patients and practice.
The goal in a general dental practice is 30-50% of hygiene procedures are periodontal related. When practices find themselves with a periodontal percentage less than 20%, they are often treating periodontal disease within the prophy procedure and active disease is not being consistently identified. Inspired Hygiene has proven results helping teams develop clear, consistent systems that drive improved patient health and business outcomes. To determine the periodontal percentage in your practice, download our Perio Percentage Calculator Tool.
- Treatment Acceptance 70%
Case acceptance in hygiene directly impacts patient health, billing accuracy, coding integrity, open time on the hygiene schedule, production and the list goes on. Even if hygienists are presenting the appropriate treatment, if patients aren’t accepting at a rate of at least 60-70%, it’s time to consider why and determine if there are skills that can be improved.. When patients don’t accept periodontal therapy, for example, it puts the hygienist and doctor in a difficult situation.Does the hygienist proceed with preventive care? It depends, however, when the treatment is not re-presented at subsequent visits, it can lead to inaccurate billing of what’s actually being done.
Efforts to consistently utilize tools such as intraoral cameras, bacterial testing and clear communication about how active infection can affect overall health can nudge the patient closer to seeing the value of moving forward. If not accepted at the time of presentation, follow up and reevaluation of the disease at the next visit are processes that serve all parties well.
- Open Time 8-10%
Striking a balance between efficiency and flexibility is crucial in maintaining a thriving hygiene department. Open time refers to unscheduled gaps in the hygiene schedule and should ideally be limited to 8-10% looking backward in time. While aiming for high efficiency, having zero open time may indicate the need for increased hygiene hours.
Looking forward on the hygiene schedule, it is ideal to have time blocked on the schedule for priority procedures such as new patient hygiene care and periodontal therapy and maintenance. Having available appointment times in the next 3 months allows for flexibility to accommodate unexpected situations, such as patient rescheduling due to illness.
- Profitability 3:1
Analyzing the compensation of hygienists in relation to the revenue they generate is vital. A profitable hygiene department creates positive outcomes and opportunities for patients, team and practice. As hygiene drives profit to the practice, there are increasing opportunities for additional investment in technology, continuing education and improved services for patients. Hygienists may also see increased income as their profitability grows.
The standard benchmark for the first point of hygiene profitability is hygiene production at three times hygiene compensation. A hygienist earning $50 an hour in pay and benefits would need to generate $150 in revenue to hit the first point of profitability. Maintaining a threefold return on investment ensures the financial sustainability of the practice and the current hygiene compensation model.
Partnering with Industry Experts
To ensure the success of your hygiene department, it’s essential to strike a balance between patient care, scheduling efficiency, and financial stability. The team of industry experts at Inspired Hygiene are a valuable resource. They can help identify areas of opportunity in your hygiene department and guide you in elevating your standard of care to ensure your patients achieve optimal health while realizing solid business growth as a result.
A successful dental hygiene department goes beyond routine cleanings. By focusing on key performance indicators like Periodontal Percentage, Treatment Acceptance, Open Time, and Profitability, dental practices can elevate patient care and financial sustainability. Embracing a comprehensive approach with the guidance of industry experts can pave the way for an even brighter future in dental hygiene.
We are happy to show you your areas of opportunity in your hygiene department and where you can increase your standard of care to get your patients to their optimum health.
Book your Discovery Meeting today!