If you are consistently adding at least twenty new patients each month per full time dentist in your practice, your hygiene team will gradually get busier with seeing new and continuing care patients. If this is not happening, it is important to understand why.
Start with your hygiene schedule. How long does it take for a new patient to get an appointment? While your first and last appointments of the day are likely booked for months, you would ideally have other times available to see a new patient, preferably within about two weeks. If a new patient starts with emergency care and then wants to schedule for preventive care, you need to be able to see that person within a few weeks; otherwise you will likely lose the opportunity.
Speaking of emergency care, check to see how effectively you guide emergency patients into your recall schedule. It’s not uncommon to treat the acute needs of an emergency patient and fail to guide that patient into the hygiene chair. If the clinical team makes it a priority to stress preventive care from the start, you will greatly increase the likelihood of getting emergency patients into the hygiene schedule.
Finally, if you want to understand why your hygiene team is not getting busier, look closely at your back door. How many patients are you losing each month or inactivating because you cannot reach them? Also look closely at new patients from the last six months; how many returned for continuing care? Even though you may have strong new patient flow, this positive may be offset by a higher than normal attrition rate, which you will need to address.
Once you know why your hygiene schedule is not getting busier, you can fine-tune the appropriate area, whether it is the patient experience, teamwork, or communication. By keeping your hygiene team busy, you will make your practice even stronger.