The AAO’s second environmental scan report, The Patient Outlook, examines the impact of generational changes on orthodontics.

The American Association of Orthodontists’ (AAO) second environmental scan report, The Patient Outlook, is now available for AAO Members. Groups, including the AAO Business Development Task Force and the Future Think Tank, guided the team from Campfire Consulting Group that prepared the scan report. The AAO wanted to ensure that it addresses issues relevant to orthodontic practice planning.

Last fall, the AAO introduced the first in a series of environmental scan reports, addressing artificial intelligence and orthodontics. The purpose of the series is to provide in-depth information to members about how emerging technologies and market forces are currently impacting orthodontics and are expected to progress. Topics were selected based on input date from member surveys.

The Patient Outlook addresses numerous aspects of how generational makeup of the United States is shifting due to declining births and increased lifespan, and resulting changes that will impact orthodontic practices in the US. The report focuses on how generations (Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z) are making decisions about treatment, view healthcare, consume media, and how they leverage ratings and reviews to make informed decisions.

Key takeaways from the report include:

  • Births have declined in 41 States and the District of Columbia over the past five years. Remaining states are flat or growing.
  • Generational engagement and expectations of healthcare, technology and telehealth/telemedicine vary – especially between online and in person experiences as well as flexibility in care options.
  • Professional referrals continue to represent more than 40% of total orthodontic patient exam referrals.

The report notes, “Targeting a population by age group isn’t enough – knowing what they value and how they use media is essential for attracting and retaining these potential patient groups.”

In addition, the environmental scan offers strategic guidance on how orthodontic practices can address near-term and longer-term growth constraints. In the short-term, consumers’ current feelings about the economy have been widely reported as being out-of-sync with positive economic indicators in the United States. The report also provides suggestions for orthodontists seeking to reassure prospective patients who are experiencing economic anxiety, even if they may be able to pay for orthodontic treatment.

The Patient Outlook report is available for AAO members online.

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