Clear Vision’s Marketing Consultant Dee Gerrish revealed the average private patient recall figures across UK dental practices in 2011 in our last blog.
Now it’s my turn to share another statistic of interest to you…
We’ve calculated the average hygiene concentration rate across the many dental practices who entrust their monthly results to us. In 2011, this figure was 43.12%.
Your hygiene concentration rate is the percentage of your total patients who could see the hygienist and are currently being seen. Wondering why you should care about this figure in your practice? Consider this example:
Number of active private patients = 1,0oo
90% of whom should see the hygienist = 900
Number of active patients seeing hygienist = 450
Potential patients to see hygienist = 450
2 visits on average at 30 minutes per year = £110 income / £75 profit per hour
Potential untapped profit is 450 patients x £75 = £33,750 per year
That’s a lot of untapped profit. And it’s typical of the scenario we continue to see in dental practices.
When you give your hygiene function the attention it deserves, you benefit your patients in a way which also benefits your dental business. Now, I know that some dentists will disagree with the need to refer their patients to a hygienist. I continue to help those who do agree that seeing the hygiene is an appropriate and vital service for patients and want to increase the number who do.
The key is to treat hygiene as a separate business in its own right. One which requires the right system and the appropriate amount of focus to achieve its potential. For example:
- highlight the patients who don’t see the hygienist on your day lists
- make your fellow dentists / associates aware of the need to refer these patients to the hygienist
- encourage the use of visual aids to enable patients to see how a hygienist can help them improve their oral health
- share training and monthly hygiene results between the dentists to
Straightforward? Yes. Effective? You bet.
And yet at the present time it pays to take it a step further…
You see had we shared the average practice hygiene concentration rate with you a year ago, it would have exceeded 55%. Our practice statistics show that it has been harder to persuade families with finances under pressure to spend on hygiene of late. It’s understandable if you find some resistance at this time from your existing patients who have gone without hygiene support for a number of years or are used to you carrying out a hygiene service for them as part of their exams.
But the statistics also show that it is still possible to keep the number of patients taking up hygiene increasing. There are a number of practices bucking the general hygiene trend.
Many practices use intra oral cameras, photo images or a mirror to SHOW patients why they should see the hygienist, instead of TELLING them. A patient may not be able to appreciate a clinical explanation but they can recognise live bacteria or plaque when it is shown to them.
Some also combine this with the use of a scoring system which patients can understand. Dentists and hygienists take measurements, pocket depth and so on, but these are rarely shared or understood by the patient. As a race, we are used to ‘keeping the score’. It’s a concept your patients will understand. So when you keep the score of them, explain what their ‘scores’ are in way they understand and what you would like their scores to be, it contributes to your ability to illustrate the value of keeping to regular hygiene appointments.
Right now, however, we see the very best hygiene concentration rates across the UK being achieved by dental teams who are adding a further dimension to their patient experience - they are creating a ‘game’ which their patients appreciate.
Some are producing a set of balls, each with a different level of firmness and giving the ball to the patient which most closely illustrates their perio situation. They are demonstrating pockets depths through the use of a pocket on their tunic. They are getting creative.
What are you doing to get creative and increase the number of patients seeing your hygienist?