What orthodontic patients liked in a crisis might not be as popular as we reenter normal times

by Roger P. Levin, DDS

The pandemic, like many crises, brought out several new ways of doing things. For example, we now have vaccine technology based on messenger RNA they had never been put into widespread practical use before. Hopefully, this vaccine technology will have a great future and address many diseases. We may not have gotten there anytime soon unless we had a crisis.

An innovation, or at least one that had been embryonic prior to the pandemic, is virtual communication with patients. Whether it is consults, checks or other communication, orthodontics is the most likely discipline of dentistry to go forward and adopt virtual communication.

However, be careful.

We are all in favor of virtual communication (teledentistry). But we also recognize that many new breakthroughs take time for adoption. In the business world we talk about early adopters, adopters, and late adopters. During the pandemic you may have utilized virtual communication with patients and patients were very receptive. After all, many people were afraid to go anywhere, and many areas were locked down. Virtual communication of any type became a positive solution.

I have no doubt that virtual platforms will now be part of orthodontics. I have no doubt that many patients will love it for convenience and feel like it’s a great idea. I also have no doubt that many patients will not like it, feel that they should have lower fees if using it, or that they are not necessarily getting attention to quality of care by not having as many live visits.

I have been a fan of increasing intervals between visits for traditional and aligner orthodontics. There is no doubt that the average interval increased during the pandemic, with the utilization of virtual visits, and for many practices will remain. The question is how great these intervals can be before parents or patients begin to perceive less attention.

The main message here is that it might be best to give patients and parents options. Do they want to have their next appointment by a virtual platform, or would they like to be in the practice?

Yes, virtual platforms will be part of orthodontic consults and treatment from here on. However, what people liked in a crisis, might not be as popular as we reenter normal times. Or maybe it will… OP

Roger Levin

Roger P. Levin, DDS, is the CEO and founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with over 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on orthodontic practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and over 4,000 articles and regularly presents seminars in the U.S. and around the world. To contact Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Ortho Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit levingroup.com or email rlevin@levingroup.com