Set a goal of 90% case acceptance. At first glance, this target may seem unreasonably high. After all, patients/parents sometimes visit nearby orthodontists’ offices first, others may cancel, and some may never show up for even the initial consultation.

Despite the competitive challenges, successful orthodontic practices find ways to motivate the vast majority of parents/patients to show up for consultations and say yes to recommended treatment. Remember, an unusual scenario exists in orthodontics: The parent is not asking if the child will have orthodontic treatment, but where. When new patients/parents come into your practice, you must ensure that you’ve generated some excitement and given them ample reasons to feel motivated and willing to proceed with treatment at your practice.

One effective strategy for managing new patients/parents is using a well-trained orthodontic treatment coordinator (TC). Without a TC in place, orthodontists in many practices can spend an excessive amount of time handling patient consults. The orthodontist has a role in this process, but most of the duties can and should be assumed by a competent TC, freeing up the orthodontist to spend more time on productive patient care.

Remember that a TC can do one thing that an orthodontist cannot do: talk about the excellent skills of the doctor and create a transfer of trust. Moreover, the TC will be dedicated to increasing start rates for the practice.

A well-organized and systematic method of starting patients needs to be implemented, measured, and improved on a regular basis. The orthodontic treatment coordinator position has been proven to increase the new patient start rate well beyond the orthodontist’s capabilities.

Roger P. Levin, DDS