Hygiene Directors Discuss Organizational Challenges

April 21, 2005
The directors of dental hygiene in large group practices covene for second annual meeting in Chicago.

Tammy L. Filipiak RDH, BS

OraPharma, Inc., the makers of Arestin, brought together a highly energized and dynamic group of directors of hygiene for the second annual Director of Hygiene Meeting in Chicago. As defined by OraPharma, a dental practice management (DPM) organization is a legal entity that owns and/or manages more than one dental practice. The entity must have:

* an operations management team and have the capability to position products on formulary or within their list of products that the offices are permitted to purchase.

* the capability to implement clinical/product initiatives across the offices that they own and/or manage.

* establish a parent child invoicing structure and be in good credit standing.

Many DPM organizations have a member of their management team designated to the hygiene aspect of the business and they are generally responsible for training, productivity analysis, protocol development, and strategic planning ¿ to name a few duties.

This year's meeting included attendees from16 DPM Organizations, including: Allied Dental, Coast Dental, Dental Care Partners, Dental Health Associates, Group Management Services, Heartland Dental Care, InterDent, Manus Health, Metro Dental Care, Midwest Dental, Modern Dental Concepts, My Dentist, Pacific Dental Services, ProCare, Towncare Dental and Universal Care.

These 16 DPM Organizations represented a wide range of geographic regions as well as metropolitan and rural settings. In addition, this year we were excited to have participation from outside resources who offered a perspective about publishing and consulting.

The focus of this year's Director of Hygiene Meeting was to share best practices, find solutions to challenges and continue to evaluate the success of DPM Hygiene Departments. This was done through breakouts sessions that focused on Best Practices, Communication, and Quality Assurance.

Dental Practice Management Organizations have formal protocols and policies in place, which allow for consistency within offices and consistency of care for patients. Some of these include:

* standard operating procedures

* OSHA and HIPAA training

* sharps exposure

* chart audits-peer review

* orientation/training

* formal periodontal treatment protocols

These protocols are very much the foundation of what DPM organizations do and why many people often refer to the medical community as having protocols in place to treat patients. An example of how protocols are used in other health fields is when a patient presents with tuberculosis. What would be done? These treatment strategies are outlined in a formal way so that anyone who comes in contact with a person with this diagnosis knows what to do and it is performed in the same way each time.

In dentistry this is often not the case because offices are owned by individuals and there is a large variance in "clinical judgment" with regard to patient care. DPM Organizations are proactive in creating these treatment strategies that create opportunity for quality assurance.

Many ideas on best practices were also shared. The discussion of benchmarking was an interesting aspect of the meeting, and a direction that many of the DPM organizations indicated that they are heading. Communication and training were recognized as a critical aspect of developing high-performing teams. This benchmarking in the areas of communication and training were especially interesting by allowing the attendees to share and hear what others are using as successful tools to develop their teams.

The unique aspect of this meeting that was welcomed was the DPM organizations' willingness to share with each other what is working within their own organization and to help others create those positive outcomes for themselves.

A special thank you to the following members of the OraPharma team for again sponsoring this event: Paul Firuta, Executive Director; Peter Farmakis, National Sales Manager; and Jill Maher, Senior Corporate Account Manager. Participation by all 10 of the OraPharma Corporate Account Managers also contributed to another successful meeting.

Tammy L. Filipiak RDH, BS
Midwest Dental, Director of Dental Hygiene