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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, Inspired Hygiene

Rachel Wall is a hygienist of nearly 30 years and owner of Inspired Hygiene. She and the IH team have guided thousands of dental professionals to elevate their hygiene services and systems while driving profits to the bottom line and developing empowered, engaged hygienists. Rachel is a past recipient of the Dental Excellence Award from DrBicuspid.com for “Most Effective Dental Hygienist Educator” and has been named one of the Top 25 Women in Dentistry by Dental Products Report.  Her book “Return on Hygiene” has been called the Hygiene Benchmark Bible and used by dentists all over North America to uncover the true potential of their hygiene teams. 

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