Q: My conversion rate is already really high. Other than a big investment in marketing, what else can I do to increase my exams?

A: Many orthodontists look at growth in terms of two buckets: conversion rate and marketing to increase exams. However, many miss the upside potential in looking at call-to-exam conversion rate. Many doctors don’t realize how much they’re losing between the patient call and the consult. Our data shows that availability is a main driver to increasing number of exams. The first element of that is phone response. Unfortunately, many offices don’t answer phones on off days, and turn on voicemail during lunch hours. You may not realize how much you’re losing there, but here’s some good data: offices who do answer phones throughout the week and workday see that nearly 25% of all their exam appointments are made during those days/times. So, although some patients might wait and call back, many simply call the next office they find until they reach a live person. You could see as much as a 20% lift in exams just by having your team answer phones. The other element is call-to-consult time. Data shows that the number of days out you schedule patients for consults correlates to kept exam vs no-show rate. Most interesting is where we see shelf drop-offs. For adult patients, kept exam rate drops off sharply after 10 days. For adolescent patients, it drops off after 20 days. So, if your schedule is packed to where you’re staging out consults longer than 3 weeks, you may be losing as much as 10% of your potential exams.

Q: I’ve heard OrthoFi is letting patients pick their own plans, and giving them lower down and monthly options. I get how that might increase starts, but won’t that hurt cash flow?

A: The key to being more flexible and balancing cash flow is open choice. If you take your current option sheet and simply add a lower down/monthly option, you will almost certainly hurt your cash flow. You will get extra starts, but a number of patients who would have accepted your default terms will now choose the lower down/monthly option, so your average will erode. What you need is a way to let patients choose from a wide array of lower but also higher down/monthly plan choices, and create incentives for patients to put more down and pay in less time. The OrthoFi Payment Slider is designed to do exactly that. By showing the real-time impact of down payment choices on the monthly, it subtly nudges patients to explore higher down options, and even offers tiered incentives for 50%, 75%, as well as pay-in-full choices. So with that, over 20% of patients choose to pay in full, the average down payment on payment plans is $834, and blending those two means that the average patient puts down $1,354 per start. On monthlies, most patients can choose as long as 36 months, but interest on longer plans nudges them to pick as short a plan as they can afford. The average payment plan is 21 months, with an average monthly payment of $194/mo. So your average plan is balanced, but you offer a lot more choices when patients need them. Our data shows that more choice = more starts. OP

About Inside the Numbers:

Answers to questions submitted to Inside the Numbers are based on data collected by OrthoFi, and presented here by company President and CEO David Ternan.

The data represents over 100,000 consults and 75,000 patient starts, and includes patient demographic information that can be cross-referenced with everything from patient financing preferences and their risk profile, to price sensitivity and acceptance of interest.

Inside the Numbers aims to help practices make informed decisions about patient financing and help dispel myths that may be hindering practice growth.

Submit your questions to Inside the Numbers at