As we speak to dentists about how to improve their hygiene department, they often ask if we can help the hygienists build value for the hygiene exam. And while the answer is yes, this responsibility is one that’s shared by every team member, especially the dentist.
Committing to the simple steps outlined below and sharing this with your team can dramatically increase how the patient values the time spent with the hygienist, and create a triple win for the patients, the providers and for the practice.
The Benefits of Building Value
- Reduction in open time
- Ideal treatment being provided that is in the best interest of the patient
- Increase in overall patient health
- A hygiene team that feels valued and respected
- Patients who refer family and friends
- Patients who will pay for valued services
- A well calibrated team
Give your hygienists permission to call for an exam once they’ve completed the data collection portion of the appointment. This will allow you to choose the best time to step away from your work and have an adequate amount of time for exams. You’ll feel less rushed and be able to better focus on the patient’s needs and concerns without feeling like the hygienist will be late seeing their next patient.
Create additional value by having your hygiene team well calibrated, ensuring consistent patient care and diagnostic screenings that are delivered at every hygiene visit – no matter which hygienist they see.
Sharing with the patient each step of the exam process will create additional value. Patients don’t know how well you are taking care of them unless you TELL them.
Here are a few examples:
- While completing their oral cancer screening, tell patients what you’re doing and share a current Oral Cancer statistic
- Reinforce any dental-medical links and concerns the hygienist may have shared with you and the patient.
- Gently remind the patient that their gum health affects their ability to control their diabetes.
- Reinforce the hygienist’s concern about the patient’s high blood pressure. Share with the patient the most recent blood pressure guidelines from the American Heart Association.
When dentists empower and train hygienists to lead the information hand-off, they can quickly understand what has been accomplished during the appointment and what has been shared with the patient. This makes the exam time much more efficient and effective.
Rather than the doctor coming into the room and the hygienist standing silently, passing notes or sharing communication in the hall, the patient hears the reporting of their information, and they get a sense that the hygienist is organized and attentive to their treatment needs.
Learn more about the ideal approach to patient hand-off – click here to access the Hygiene-to-Doctor Handoff Guide
Include the following communication in the co-diagnosis report from hygienist to dentist:
- Medical changes or concerns including BP
- Radiographs completed
- Periodontal observations
- Restorative needs with Intra-oral camera photos
- Treatment options discussed and patient’s level of commitment
- Doctors may ask the patient “Is there anything else I need to know?”
- When closing the hygiene exam, the doctor and hygienist should communicate the specific reasons for the next visit in both hygiene and restorative with a clear timeframe
Complementing your team members in front of patients is an easy way to build the patients’ confidence in your team. Enjoy this quick video from Kelly for examples of how to build up your team in front of patients. This increases the patient’s trust in your practice as a critical piece of their healthcare team.
Don’t miss the opportunity to build value for hygiene care when patients are in your chair. Enlist the help of your dental assistant to consistently check patient charts for incomplete hygiene treatment and that the patients are following your prescribed recare recommendations.
- Identify unscheduled hygiene opportunities during chart prep and morning huddle
- Communicate disease/inflammation, bone loss, and calculus to the patient during restorative appointment along with the importance of moving forward with care
- Share the benefits of oral health to overall body wellness
- Have assistant to schedule hygiene visits or relay need to schedule with the administrative team
Utilize these steps to collaborate with your team and start building value now!