Many practices are moving towards an assisted hygiene model of care.
When scheduled well, it allows additional patients treatment opportunities without reducing the quality of care provided. Is this a good option for your practice? It depends. Here are some great reasons to try this approach:
- 3 or more managed care (PPO) contracted plans with lower than ideal reimbursement
- 3 or more weeks wait time for SRP
- 2 or more weeks wait time for a new patient to receive hygiene care
- The capacity to dedicate 2 ops to a hygienist
Effective management of this schedule depends on the contributions of the front office team (to schedule it correctly), the dental assistant (to run it effectively), and the dental hygienist (to keep the standard of care high).
The dental assistant (DA) role is critical – they become an extension of the hygienist.
The DA will need to use the same language skills to interview patients and promote case acceptance as the hygienist. It will not be effective if the DA takes digital images and disappears to the sterilization area. The DA must keep pace throughout the day based on the patient and hygienist’s needs. At times, this means working quickly. At other times, it means slowing down, so the patient does not perceive a wait time for their “turn” with the hygienist. The patient is never alone in the operatory in this model.
An exceptional Assisted Hygiene model of care depends on the DA’s ability to:
- Pace treatment strategically to maintain a high-level patient experience.
- Turn over ops, setting up thoroughly for the next procedure.
- Update the health history, take blood pressure, digital images, intra-oral photos, polish, floss, record exam notes, provide home-care instructions, and review outstanding treatment.
- Start the clinical chart notes, choosing the correct note template and entering the doctor’s exam findings.
- Focus on case acceptance and communication skills, review treatment options and possibilities during wait time. Effectively interview patients using open-ended questions and knowing when to listen more and talk less.
- Communicate closely with the hygienist throughout the day.
- Direct the doctor to perform the exam at the appropriate times.
The doctor also needs to be flexible with this model. Providing the exam on time, rather than at the most convenient time, allows the model to work. Patients can receive an exceptional experience, and the practice can recover profits lost to low reimbursement insurance plans.
Burkhart’s Practice Support Team can provide a complete template, and additional scheduling and language skills support if you are considering this model of care.
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