4 ways to increase hygiene production

June 7, 2012
Dr. Roger Levin talks about four ways your team can motivate patients to stay on schedule with their recare appointments. These techniques will help you retain more patients and increase hygiene production dramatically.

Twice-a-year hygiene appointments help patients maintain good oral health and prevent more severe dental problems in the future. However, in response to the slow economy, more patients are postponing hygiene appointments. As dental professionals, we know that the longer patients delay regular care, the greater the probability of future oral health issues. The challenge for dental practices is to help patients understand this.

The team should motivate patients to stay on schedule with their recare appointments by:

1. Building greater value for the hygiene appointment.
Many offices refer to the hygiene appointment simply as a “cleaning” or a “recall” visit. None of these terms convey the true value of the hygiene appointment to patients. I recommend that the hygiene visit be referred to as “the periodontal maintenance and oral cancer exam appointment” or something similar. Accurately describing the hygiene appointment creates a sense of greater value for patients who may not recognize that periodontal disease is an actual disease and that oral cancer exams are just as critical as other types of cancer evaluations.

2. Scheduling the next hygiene appointment during checkout.
Train the front desk team to schedule the next recare appointment when patients are in the office. Keeping patients on the schedule helps patients maintain their oral health.

3. Implementing an effective confirmation system.
Every patient should be contacted 48 hours in advance of the recare appointment via cell phone, text, email, and/or work phone. Some practices call 24 hours in advance, but this may not leave enough time to schedule another patient.

4. Keeping track of unscheduled hygiene patients. Overdue patients represent a significant challenge for many practices. These are the patients who do not schedule their recare appointments in advance. Do not wait until they are overdue for hygiene care before contacting them. Be proactive. If they are on a six-month recare schedule, contact them in the fifth month, so they can be scheduled and seen within the appropriate six-month time frame.

Motivating patients to keep their hygiene appointment continues to be the one of the most challenging areas within dentistry. These four techniques will help you retain more patients and increase hygiene production dramatically.

To learn how to run a more profitable, efficient, and satisfying practice, visit the Levin Group Resource Center at www.levingroup.com/gp — a free online resource with tips, videos, and other valuable information. You can also connect with Levin Group on Facebook and Twitter (@Levin_Group) to learn strategies and share ideas.

Author bio
Dr. Roger Levin is a third-generation general dentist and the chairman and CEO of Levin Group, Inc., the largest dental practice management and marketing firm in the United States. As a leading authority on dental practice management and marketing, he has developed the scientific systems-based consulting method that will increase practice production and profitability, while lowering stress. Dr. Levin has authored more than 60 books and over 3,000 articles. He presents 100 seminars worldwide each year.