Dr. Charles Blair conducted the one-day Profits Plus+ seminar at a local country club. Besides his extensive experience in practice management consulting, Dr. Blair is what I call a data cruncher extraordinaire. He uses specific mathematical formulas (benchmarks) to analyze hygiene department data based on input from an individual practice. He generates a detailed report for the dental hygiene department, and the overall goal is to lead the practice to improved profitability and productivity.
It comes as no surprise that the two biggest problems facing dentistry today are PPO plans, and the lack of periodontal diagnosis and treatment. Dr. Blair will be discussing these and other important issues in future issues of the Insurance Solutions Newsletter, which he recently acquired as a publisher.
Dental hygienists and dentists don't always like the business side of dental practice. As a practicing RDH, I understand the frustration of having to worry about profitability of the hygiene department because oftentimes patient scheduling is out of our control. But good business models are like well-oiled machines – they are ever-changing but survive economic downturns when teams work smartly and harmoniously.
According to Dr. Blair, 80% of RDHs do not produce three times their W-2, which is the standard formula used by practice management consultants to determine daily compensation. In a PPO practice where fees are heavily discounted, it is even more important to include a mix of dental hygiene services that include periodontal services.
Dr. Charles Blair is very respectful of RDHs and values our contribution, but he'd like to see RDH periodontal therapists wrap their arms around adult periodontal risk assessment and treatment. Too often, periodontal services are being given away as prophys and there are not enough D4341/D4342/D4910 periodontal procedures on the hygiene schedule.
One of the advantages of a PPO practice is a high volume of new patients. Profit margins in PPO practices are lower, but if comprehensive periodontal assessment is consistent and an appropriate periodontal procedure mix is in place, hygiene efficiency should remain constant. PPO practices need to combine periodontal procedures with technology to maximize efficiency. In addition, paying close attention to practice management software means evaluating which PPO plans to keep and which ones to drop. Dr. Blair offers a PPO analyzer program that helps manage these decisions.
High stress and hygienists running themselves ragged are also common problems in private practice. These can be alleviated by hiring a dedicated hygiene assistant. This addition to the hygiene department should be viewed as a capacity utilization arrangement, just like the doctor/assistant partnership that promotes the most efficient use of the doctor's professional skills. The hygienist should deliver those services provided by law for an RDH and delegate all other services and duties to the dedicated assistant. Hygienists often have a sole practitioner philosophy, and delegating so much of their initial and post-patient contact requires a paradigm shift in patient care, but it is a necessary concept for the future of dental hygiene.
As Rhonda and I made the four-hour trek home, we realized how thankful we are to have a practice management consultant such as Dr. Charles Blair who cares so much about practice efficiency. With dental practice overhead easily running 60% to 65% and more, practice management issues can sabotage the best of practice intentions.Lynne Slim, RDH, BSDH, MSDH, is an award-winning writer who has published extensively in dental/dental hygiene journals. Lynne is the CEO of Perio C Dent, a dental practice management company that specializes in the incorporation of conservative periodontal therapy into the hygiene department of dental practices. Lynne is also the owner and moderator of the periotherapist yahoo group: www.yahoogroups.com/group/periotherapist. Lynne speaks on the topic of conservative periodontal therapy and other dental hygiene-related topics. She can be reached at [email protected] or www.periocdent.com.