How crucial are observation patients in your orthodontic practice? The answer should be: very!

The more observation patients you have and the more you can convert over time, the higher your practice production will be. This patient group should be managed with the same intensity and focus as your new patient starts. In a difficult economy, orthodontic practices must leverage every revenue generator within the practice. Observation patients represent the equivalent of untapped oil reserves.

That being said, many orthodontists tend to look upon a large roster of observation patients and see problems rather than opportunities. They will often indicate that observation patients are a challenge because they take up valuable chairtime without necessarily producing revenue in the immediate future.

Having an observation patient program that fails to generate more starts doesn’t mean having a large number of observation patients is undesirable. It simply indicates that practices in that situation need to implement systems to correctly manage observation patients.

An effective and well-managed observation system should include the following practices:

• Siblings of every patient entering the practice should be offered free examinations to convert them into observation patients. Schedule these patients as early as possible, and then evaluate their status every 6 months.

• Calculate a weekly statistic for the number of overdue observation patients. Your goal should be to keep that number below 1%. Remember that when you track the number of observation patients, it becomes another means to project future revenue.

• If an observation patient misses an appointment, a staff member should reschedule it within 24 hours. Failure to take this simple step allows orthodontic candidates to be lost to the practice forever.

Levin Group puts a very high premium on the observation program as a resource for future orthodontic production. You should as well!

Roger P. Levin, DDS