Editor's Note

The annual salary survey conducted by RDH eVillage concluded its final questionnaire during the last week or so.

By Mark Hartley

The annual salary survey conducted by RDH eVillage concluded its final questionnaire during the last week or so. Although the magazine will discuss some of the results in January, I encourage you to read the RDH eVillage articles on DentistryIQ.com.

Keeping an eye on this survey gives me a front row seat to all of the other surveys initiated by the PennWell dental publications. I suppose I could confess, "I like to study globes and maps, as well as the statistics of surveys of dental professionals."

A logical response from you would be, "You know, I think I heard about a more lively party down the street. Think I'll mosey on down there. See ya later!"

My apologies in advance. But I enjoyed unearthing the statistics below.

Hygiene handpieces

Ninety-three percent of dental hygienists said handpieces are replaced when the current one stops working. The other 7% said handpieces are replaced at regular intervals.

One question asked what dental hygienists like least about handpieces. Remember, they probably completed this survey after work. Some may have pressed the buttons as the last thing they did before bed. But my favorite answers are:

  • "It can get nosy." If a handpiece is nosy, then it's also likely to be just too danged noisy, gossiping all the time.
  • "I'm sure it's the pedal, but the speed is very touchy." Always try to think of other factors when something is irritable -- that incorrigible pedal, for example.
  • "Haven't thought about not liking it (handpiece)." Nothing wrong with being everyone's friend. But, when the moment is right, the weirdo down the hall probably deserves a second analysis from you.

Seriously, most of the comments focused on the weight of the instruments, cords, and costs. The survey was conducted for a manufacturer, and companies are very appreciative of the feedback received from dental hygienists. The most heartwarming thing I saw in the survey is that 54% regard the "ergonomic design" as being the most important factor in selecting a handpiece. It hasn't always been this way, but dental hygienists are now more in tune with taking steps to prevent occupational injuries.

No vagabond doctors here

Another survey determined if dentists are thinking about buying a practice within the next three years. Almost half of the doctors weighing the possibility were between the ages of 31 to 40. The prospective buyers were asked if they would "be willing to move to obtain your dream practice" or if they would stay rooted where they are.

To me, it was a surprise that 64% said the "dream practice" would have to be near their current location. Overall, the American workforce seems to relocate where the jobs, uh, patients are.

Still on the telephone

In another survey last month, 81% of hygienists said the front office staff still telephones patients about upcoming appointments, while most of the remaining offices use an automated system.

Some other interesting statistics from this survey revealed:

  • 79% said 5% to 10% of scheduled patients are no-shows, not even bothering to call to cancel. Maybe these patients need an automated canceling service. "Beep. Hi. This is a message system for Mark Hartley. This system wishes to notify you that Mark Hartley has no intention of showing up for his dental appointment this week. Beep."
  • 30% said missed appointments were a "small problem" for schedules, and 18% said they were a "big problem." Small problems generally mean more time to browse favorite websites, eh?
  • Maybe not; 82% said offices try to fill canceled appointments based on patients placed on wait lists. Idle hands ...

Regardless of how I and other aging consumers feel, the pressure is on to increase efficiency through automation. Thirty-two percent of hygienists said they would support an automated service to notify patients about appointments if the need could be proven.

While you're here, let me also show you a map of downtown Tulsa-note. No, wait! This is better than the party down the street!

Mark Hartley
markh@pennwell.com
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