Why Your Orthodontic Practice Needs Better Data

If you've heard ortho experts and industry pundits call for better practice data many times before, but your practice is still behind when it comes to monitoring and analyzing data, it's time to reassess. Let's put it another way.

Imagine never visiting a doctor for a cholesterol check-up. "I feel fine," you might say to yourself, "so surely my cholesterol is okay and my heart is healthy." Without ever seeing the data yourself, there's no knowing if you are healthy.

Practice owners who are relying on a small amount of data like case starts, or worse - no data at all, are effectively thinking about their businesses like the example above. The mentality of "what you don't know, won't kill you" - or more aptly put, "what I don't measure, doesn't matter" - could critically endanger your practice. As all industries, including the orthodontic industry, continued progress towards data management and data-driven decision making is separating the pioneers from the followers working to catch up.

Robust data analysis and data-led decisions are not simply trends: Studies have shown that practices that adopt data-driven decision-making have output and productivity that is 5-6% higher than peers who don't.(1) Specifically, there are some clear examples of why your orthodontic practice should collect better data, and how insights from that data can affect real, positive change in your business.

Better Practice Data Can Improve Collections

While tracking net collections is a must-have and most practices do so in one form or another, in order to gain a picture of a practice's financial health, one must look further. Collections are just one part of the equation and simply tracking data doesn't help you understand if there are problems or not. Putting your data to work by leveraging insights from a grouping of data and putting it in a visual format helps you understand the next steps to take and how to increase your collections.

Take, for example, the number of no-show patients. This simple metric alone can tell you a lot about opportunities to improve your operations and increase collections. Let's say you're already tracking no-shows: Your number of no-show patients makes up approximately 7% of your total appointments, and your average collection per visit is $250. Your business has always tolerated these missed collections and performs just fine otherwise. But what would better data reveal in this situation?

What if you had the dataset to show that the industry standard was actually 5% no-shows, and regional comparisons for similar offices in your area only had 4% no-shows? Suddenly, it's clear there's an issue where you didn't see one before.A loss you previously tolerated becomes the difference between your practice and your competitor - giving them advantage. This data could incite you to change your appointment messaging, look into new scheduling options, scheduling reminders, staff training and other methods to patients to prioritize appointments - all of which could help increase collections per visit metric.

Better Practice Data Can Reduce Prospective Patient Attrition

Another common metric is new patient flow. If you're keeping an eye on the number of patients coming through your door, that should be good enough, right? Not quite.

Let's say, in addition to new patients, you begin tracking initial phone calls as patient adds to your system. In doing so, you might discover that the number of patients calling to learn more about your practice is only converting to 50% who schedule an initial appointment. Therein is a major problem relating to your patient acquisition and conversion: New patient opportunities are dropping off before they even come into your office. This information provides guidance that there may be work to be done on your initial greeting, your marketing, your availability for new consults or a host of other issues unique to your practice.

A known metric that is critical to your success is case acceptance. Your new patients exams → starts. Many experts consider this to be one of the most important KPIs, (key performance indicators,) your practice measures.(2) Let's say out of the 50% of patients that called and came in for a consult, only 60% started treatment with you. By tracking this metric and measuring it next to industry benchmarks and other office like yours, you might see that your case acceptance isn't exactly up to par. You can't begin to think about this until you have the information that sheds light on the issue in the first place. From here, you can now consider possible solutions such as a TC and doctor script or protocol, doubling-down on patient education, offering a greater variety of treatment options, or perhaps changing your messaging tactics when delivering treatment plans, thereby increasing treatment starts.

Better Practice Data Can Enhance Operational Efficiency

There's a chance you're already measuring many of these practice metrics, but that doesn't guarantee the way you collect data is efficient. If you or your staff are manually gathering and inputting performance data into spreadsheets, or if you are spending significant time trying to understand the data, these are strong indicators that your practice is not being operationally efficient. Even with robust practice management software in place, orthodontic practices are still missing the comprehensive level of data analysis necessary for practice health. The solution is a better practice performance data analysis tool.

With the proper data analysis tool, you can automate the process of measuring practice performance information, thus saving time and resources that could be devoted to improving other areas of your practice, such as focusing on a better patient experience. Data automation also produces more reliable, accurate practice data by eliminating the risk of human error from manual data entry. Furthermore, the right tools will help visualize data in eye-opening ways, allowing you to quickly catch nuances and insights that would be much more obscured in a clunky spreadsheet.

Gaidge Delivers the Practice Performance Metrics, Industry Benchmarks, and Reporting You Need

The task of tracking over 80 practice KPIs, culling industry benchmarks and regional comparison data, and serving these in easy-to-read visual reports, is too much to ask of an individual or a team. Gaidge offers the only software to take on these and other aspects of your practice performance data so you can make informed decisions, improve efficiency, and drive profitability in your practice. And by fully integrating with all major practice management software systems, Gaidge ensures time savings and no disruption to your operations.

Want to learn more about how Gaidge can help you succeed? Contact us today.


(1) https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1819486

(2) https://www.orthotown.com/magazine/articles/6970/key-performance-indicators

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