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Top 5 Hygiene Benchmarks

Rachel Wall, R.D.H., B.A., is one of the nation’s top dental hygiene consultants and founder of Inspired Hygiene. She sat down with Amol Nirgudkar, CEO of Patient Prism, to talk about the top five benchmarks she and her team consider when they evaluate a practice's hygiene program.

1. 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.

2. Hygiene Department Profitability

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,” says Wall. 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've reached that first level of profitability.”

3. Open Time on the Hygiene Schedule

The next thing Inspired Hygiene looks at is open time. Inspired Hygiene recommends there should be 8% to 10% open time in the Hygiene schedule. Often un-utilized time is up to 20 percent. It 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. 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. Restorative Treatment Enrolled through Hygiene

“We really think a large percentage of that doctor's treatment should be coming out of the Hygiene department,” says Wall. “The hygienist should have the confidence and empowerment to tee up treatment for the doctor.” According to Wall, the percentage of restorative enrolled through Hygiene should be 60%. This enrollment is a combined effort of the hygienist and dentist working together.

5. Hygienists' Mindset

Inspired Hygiene takes into consideration how open-minded the hygienists are to learning and development. What is their attitude towards being coached to improvement? “If they're excited about learning and growing in a positive environment, all these benchmarks are going to improve with training,” says Wall.

About this Industry Leader:

Rachel Wall, RDH, BS - Profile Pic

Rachel Wall, RDH, BS

Dental Hygiene Coach

As owner of Inspired Hygiene, Rachel partners with dentists, hygienists and office managers to elevate their hygiene service, systems, and profits. In addition to coaching, Rachel draws from her 20 years of experience as a hygienist and practice administrator to deliver to-the-point articles and speaking programs. She has spoken across the country, including RDH Under One Roof and the AACD annual session. She was named Most Effective Hygiene Educator by Dr. Bicuspid in 2011. She has written for numerous industry journals, including The Progressive Dentist Magazine, Dentistry Today, RDH, and Hygienetown.

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