PracticeTek wants to create an all-in-one software solution for managing a practice from top to bottom, one integration at a time.

By Steven Martinez

When Elon Musk bought Twitter in October 2022, there were many speculations about how the social media site would change under his ownership. But one persistent rumor was that it was the first step to his occasionally referenced goal to create an all-encompassing super app.

Modeled on other do-everything apps like WeChat, which is huge in the Chinese market, this super app, sometimes referred to as “X”, would include social media, messaging, video, payments, and whatever other predominantly online service you could imagine. Whether or not Musk’s Twitter acquisition succeeds in getting him to app Valhalla is very much uncertain, but what rings true is the sentiment that a single service encompassing many services might make consumers’ lives simpler, more efficient, and, therefore, better.

That’s what PracticeTek aims to create for orthodontists—a truly all-in-one software solution to manage every aspect of a practice. Through a series of mergers and acquisitions and subsequent partnerships, PracticeTek put together a roster of software companies to meet that end. PracticeTek partnered with five orthodontic software providers, Tops, Gaidge, EasyRx, Oasys Crossfire, and OrthoMinds.

Ryan Moynihan, vice president of orthodontics for PracticeTek and the chief executive officer of Gaidge, says that more than just improving the efficiency of software services for orthodontists, PracticeTek is aiming to give practice owners an objective sense of everything going on in their business.

“It’s basically a collection of retail healthcare software companies, with the goal to provide one source of the truth,” says Moynihan. “An orthodontist, especially when it comes to software, has a handful of companies that they need to choose from to make their business more efficient. If PracticeTek is able to take five or six or 10 or however many of those solutions and integrate them all into one solution, that’s where we’re trying to get to.”

Today, PracticeTek is still working towards the goal of a single solution. The companies under its umbrella still operate independently and offer their services separately, but as the partnership matures, integrations are expected to begin bringing these services together in more helpful ways.

PracticeTek currently has Tops as its practice management software provider, Gaidge for business analytics and EasyRx for case management. While Tops’ software already features integration with both Gaidge and EasyRx, Moynihan envisions a future with a practice management system where these integrations are standard and offered under a single fee—the “everything” practice management solution.

Bringing them all into a single solution could also have benefits for consistency in design and function for a practice’s staff.

“It’s all the stuff that exists now. We’re just trying to seamlessly put it all together so that it’s consistent across all these different softwares, and so you don’t have to learn the five different ways the companies approach it,” says Moynihan. “You’ll still get everything, but we’re trying to put all that stuff into one seamless system instead of having all these different bolt-ons.”

Digging Into the Data

With roots in Gaidge, it’s no wonder Moynihan and PracticeTek envision a more efficient way of managing every aspect of an orthodontic practice.

“If you think about orthodontists, some of them are not necessarily the best at running the business, but they’re very good at being clinicians, and so if we can help take some of that off their plate or streamline it, that’s our goal,” says Moynihan.

Gaidge is adding more integrations into different software and bolstering the ability of a small business to gain insight into its metrics. But simply having the data is different than putting it into action. By combining the operational data with overhead data, the company was able to find that there were three critical metrics that practice owners should be focusing on to improve their profitability—starts per day, value per visit, and managing expenses.

Boiling down mountains of data into bite-sized metrics is another form of efficiency. While orthodontists would find value in all the data to fully optimize their operations, simplification can also be a virtue. It allows practice owners who want to spend more of their efforts on the clinical side to still run their business in an efficient manner.

“There are pockets of people that just do not care. The orthodontic business model is pretty lucrative. But I would still argue that they’re probably missing out on a lot more additional dollars by not looking at their metrics,” says Moynihan. “Any sophisticated business is going to have metrics, and some orthodontists, they just don’t. That’s why we try to draw the connection there and then try to make it as simple as possible so that they can actually bite this off.”

A Steady Business for Rocky Times

Recession looms on the horizon for all business owners. The past few years have been a rollercoaster for orthodontists, with shutdowns followed by historical booms moving into an uncertain malaise for 2023. An economic research firm that Gaidge follows, ITR Economics, is predicting a recession in the back half of 2023 into 2024, and with economic indicators like housing and financials dipping into the red, it seems all but inevitable.

When trying to make sense of the past 3 years of the orthodontics industry, Moynihan put economic data into 3-month and 12-month rolling models and compared it to historical numbers going back to 2018. He found that the industry typically stayed between 3% and 5% growth every year. In the moment, the oscillations from highs to lows seem unprecedented and even an omen for troubled times. But even including the wildest swings, Moynihan found that over a 5-year period, the orthodontics industry’s compounded annual growth rate was steady at 3.6%.

“So really, even though we’ve had the wild swings, nothing’s changed over time, nothing,” says Moynihan. “The orthodontics industry is stable, I don’t want to call it recession-proof, but it’s stable. It can weather the storm.”

His biggest advice for doctors worried about a coming recession is to avoid panicking and use the tools at their disposal to create an efficient practice before the downturn. They should look at each aspect of their practice and create disciplines and processes to address issues when they turn up.

“Gaidge can act like a compass for what is and what is not working, and you don’t have to do anything other than just look at it. You don’t have to go pull reports and do an analysis. It’s color-coded for you,” says Moynihan. “Stay the course, don’t panic, but also make sure that you’re building in disciplines and systems and processes that when certain downfalls happen, you’re able to overcome those at a better rate than the person next door.” OP