Patient starts by AAOmembers increased by 4% per member in 2010 over 2008, according to thelatest AAO Member & Patient Census Study. Conducted every 2 years,the study tracks trends in patient starts, staffing concerns, andreferral patterns.

While patient starts increased from 228 per member to 237 last year,these figures remain below the peak of 2004 when members reported anaverage of 262 new patient starts. The survey also found that newpatient exams were down slightly from 375 to 359 per member. New casepresentations fell from 232 to 226.

Total patients in active treatment increased from 502 to 506 per member, a 0.8% uptick.

The number of active, participating AAO members continues to growsteadily, from 9,045 in 2004 to 9,456 in 2008 and 9,660 last year. Thetotal number of patients in treatment by members grew by 2.5% in 2010 to4,888,000.

Of the total number of patients treated, about 3,440,000 werechildren ages 8 to 17, representing about 8.2% of US children in thatage group. The study estimates that as the population grows, assumingAAO members continue to treat 8.2% of US children, each member will gainon average 44 more patients in 2015 as compared to 2010.

Adult patients, meanwhile, increased 2.5% to a total of 1,075,000.

AAO members participating in the survey also reported seeing patientsan average of 30 hours a week in 2010, up 1 hour a week from 2008,while doctors devoted 45 hours a week to the practice, down an hour fromthe previous survey. Members saw an average of 50 patients a day, upfrom 48 in 2008. The average length of treatment was 22 months.

In 2010, the average AAO member employed seven full-time and three part-timestaff members. The number of members in multiple-doctor practicesdeclined from 28% to 24%, down significantly from 31% in 2006.

In terms of practice promotion, 47% of members reported usingFacebook to promote their practices and 35% said they spent more than$10,000 a year to promote their practices.