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- Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS, Speaker, Author. Dental Hygiene Coach & Consultant

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Dental Consultant | The Dental Hygienists Role in Keeping Doctor’s Schedule Full

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

December 6, 2017

Every success schedule in the dental office begins with a strategy. Without a strategic plan, you are not able to meet the financial goals to keep your dental practice surviving.

The best plan is to not survive, but thrive.

What is the dental hygienist’s role in keeping doctor’s schedule full?

1st Step to Doctor’s Success Schedule

The first step for hygienists to help keep doctors schedule full is to have a mindset that they are like an associate to doctor; helping the practice to grow.

2nd Step to Successful Scheduling

The next step is actually two-pronged. The hygienist needs to audit all patient records before their day at the office begins. This audit serves many purposes but for this blog we will stick to the topic of what a hygienist’s role is for successful scheduling and helping doctor’s schedule stay full all day.

When auditing the patient’s records look to see what outstanding treatment is necessary. Why does the patient need to schedule this? What is the urgency the hygienist and all the clinicians will speak to this patient about?

For example: Does the patient have a dark spot on their bite-wing x-ray and when you audit the patients record you feel concerned they may very soon have a toothache.

Why did this patient not want to schedule this appointment? It is important to understand the patient’s objection so that when the hygienist has the patient in their chair they can immediately address the patient’s previous objection.

Example: Without even saying; “I know money is a concern,” what you can say is (Have the patient seated upright in the chair with x-rays, and/or intra-oral photos there in front of the patient), “Mrs. Jones, doctor and I are both concerned about this black spot on your x-ray. Let me show you this area. Do you see this black spot? Here is the nerve of your tooth and as you can see this black spot is very close to the nerve which means that once it reaches the nerve it will cause a toothache and also means we probably need to do a root canal and a tooth with a root canal needs a tooth. This means spending a lot more money to keep this tooth.”

Notice how the hygienist in this example address the patients concern before they could even give their objection which they stated at their last appointment and this is the reason the treatment is unscheduled.

It is also very important that hygienists not only think about the gum health of their patients but provide a visual exam.

After the hygienist completes all of their screenings, it is a great time to sit the patient upright in the chair and show them what you see. Look together with the patient. Make the patient part of this process. This means that you look together and ask the patient if they see what you see.

Use words that the patient understands. Saying words like “periodontal disease,” and “tooth decay” probably don’t mean as much to your patient as if the words: gum infection, inflammation, active disease, cavity, black soft spot, etc.”

When you see holes in doctor’s schedule it’s time to take a look at the hygiene patient exam process. It’s a great time to look at patient records who have not scheduled their appointment and discuss as a team what you can do differently so these patients will schedule and pay.

The best way to get patients scheduled and paying for the care you offer is to communicate (your words and actions) in a way that helps the patient to feel and believe they want what they need.

Many of your patients have left your office without committing to schedule and pay for your care. Many of these patients also took very nice vacations this summer, they already plan to buy that new iPhone X, some have spent a lot of money on a really nice car and many have spent thousands of dollars on a sleeve of body of tattoo’s.

Our job? We have a responsibility to help our patients want what they need. Don’t most people want to live a longer and healthier life? This is our overarching message, “Optimal oral health will help you live a longer and healthier life!”

Still have holes in your schedule? Please feel free to reach out to an expert. This is one area that we have created a success strategy around. Our client offices have many patients who now schedule and pay for treatment AND many of their patients pay before their treatment is complete.

Our client offices have a system in place for big cases where patients are currently paying in advance for doctor and hygienist’s services.

Most of the medical cosmetic offices have patients pay in advance and why can’t your patients feel urgency to pay for keeping a healthy mouth?!

It’s all in how you are delivering your message to the patient in your chair.

Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS is a dental consultant, coach, speaker and author. She is also CEO of Dental Hygiene Solutions, powered by Dental Practice Solutions. Debbie is a world-class leader in creating profitable hygiene departments. She is well-known as a former clinical assistant professor at USC in Los Angeles and a former hygiene department program director. Dentistry Today recognizes Debbie as a Leader in Dental Consulting.

DENTISTRY TODAY considers her a top dental consultant for the past 16 yrs.

The focus of Dental Practice Solutions is to create healthier, longer lives for your patients while supporting the practice to optimize their hygiene department. The team at Dental Practice Solutions, takes an integrative approach with your team to create an increase in your production and collections without working harder. When you continue to use the systems implemented, you will benefit from production that creates dividends year after year, for the life of your dental practice.

Debbie is also a former Hygiene Program Director and clinical assistant professor for the dental hygiene program at USC in Los Angeles.

Debbie is passionate about supporting dental teams to provide a profitable, patient-centered dental practice through improving systems and efficiencies in the dental hygiene department

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