The Future of Orthodontics Practice Technology

The future of orthodontics technology can take many different forms for an ortho practice. From data analytics to digital impression scanning, tech advancements are ushering in a new era of orthodontics. While a lot of these futuristic advancements in orthodontics have been around for some years now, we are seeing a shift from them being simply trends to becoming the ortho industry paradigm. And yet, even as the industry turns to these newer tools and processes to run better practices, many practice owners are still behind the curve when it comes to adopting these methods of working. Whether you consider yourself a full-fledged tech evangelist, or you still remain uncertain about the "future," we'll take you through some of the latest innovations in orthodontic technology and how they can help your practice perform better.

Online Reputation Management

Managing your online reputation and controlling the narrative of your practice is becoming essential to the health of orthodontic practices. In a recent study of dental and orthodontic professionals who were surveyed about the most common challenges to attracting new patients, 27.8% reported a lack of referrals from current patients or other doctors as their biggest challenge.(1) Another 19.6% of respondents thought that obtaining more organic online reviews, such as Google's reviews, was the biggest challenge to increasing new patient flow.

You can manage your online reputation by keeping a close eye on online reviews; for example, check your social media profiles regularly to ensure there aren't any patient questions or concerns that are being neglected. Another way to swiftly handle online presence is through an online reputation management software, which manages your online reputation by driving more positive reviews. In this way, these reputation managers can be viewed as a natural extension of WOM referrals. While many reputation managers will incentivize patients to leave positive online reviews, some will also target negative or lackluster reviews and try to get patients to reconsider leaving more positive online reviews.

Intra-Oral Digital Scanning

The traditional methods of getting patient impressions are tried and true but technology is advancing toward more sophisticated, patient-friendly digital options. PVS and alginate impressions can often create issues such as tears, tray-to-tooth contact, model overtrimming, inaccurate pouring, and a host of other problems.(2) However, full-arch digital scans have proven themselves to be as accurate as traditional impressions, but without the challenges that come with plaster or alginate impressions.

Digital impressions can also substantially reduce chair time and avoid potentially gagging issues for a patient. Since these impressions can be sent to the lab within a few minutes(3), your team can increase production per hour, as well as improve the patient experience. Using digital technology rather than traditional methods can also positively contribute to your office's brand image in the eyes of the patient. In this sense, digital scanning can increase case acceptance and enhance the treatment planning process4, both of which can lead to a better starts conversion and treatment efficiency. (Tracking these metrics, however, is another issue altogether.)

Practice Performance Data Analytics

In the same way that it's important to examine the efficiency of your practice operations and institute better processes, it's equally important to measure your practice efficiency and performance. Seeing what needs to change isn't always easy. Even if you collect practice data reports through your practice management software, your next steps aren't exactly actionable.

While some practice management software tracks some operational metrics, these rarely have sophisticated analytical capabilities, requiring the practice managers to organize and comb through data in order to truly learn anything about how their practice is performing. One of your efficiency and quality of life opportunities is to examine how you measure your practice performance. Furthermore, these traditional tools lack the context of industry benchmarks and comparison data to show you where your practice could be operating.

While there is an industry-wide need for better data and analytics, few tools offer the analysis required by practice managers. Software like Gaidge provides comprehensive data monitoring and analysis for over 80 metrics as well as industry benchmarks, regional comparisons, and notifications for when you fall below standards or goals.

Orthodontic Digital Workflow

One of the most important focal points of a practice's daily operations is efficiency. If you frequently experience bottlenecks or snags at any stage of your daily operations, the lost time and resources associated with these inefficiencies translate to lost production - and lost dollars. And while digital processes like intra-oral scanning make a significant difference on how your practice operates, practice managers should be concerned with instituting a holistic digital transformation to make every process faster and better for the patient.

Many practice management software (PMS) systems make it possible to facilitate an end-to-end digital experience that's quick, seamless, and patient-friendly. Some of the more recent advancements in PMS tools include enhanced appointment scheduling tools, better visibility into patient information, and optimized patient communication.(4) All of these features seek to shorten and simplify patient management, which ultimately enables offices to spend more time generating more production.

Gaidge Brings the Future of Orthodontics to Your Practice Management

Gaidge offers a cloud-based data analysis platform that helps orthodontic practices produce informed, data-driven decisions. By tracking key performance indicators across every aspect of your practice, you know how your exactly how the financial health and operational performance of your practice every day. This tool keeps you up to date using automation and data science providing easy-to-understand visuals, comprehensive charts and historical data to keep you informed on how your business is performing. Gaidge integrates directly with your practice management system, allowing you to get closer to digital transformation, improve efficiencies, and drive profitability for your business. Want to learn more? Contact Gaidge today.



(2) Jones, P.E.: The iTero optical scanner for use with Invisalign: A descriptive review. 2012.



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