Welcome back to another episode of GrowOrtho. In today’s episode, we’re sitting down with Lori William to hear her thoughts on maximizing practice efficiency to create the best patient experience.
Lori has been in orthodontics since 1992 and is currently a partner in the company Strategix. She and her team consult with orthodontic practices throughout her home country of Canada to help clinics increase profitability and improve systems, which “looks different for everybody.”
Look forward to the following insights from Lori:
- Major trends that Lori sees in clinics since re-opening after 2020 pandemic closures
- The essential role of technology in optimizing practice efficiency
- How practices can start incorporating more virtual care into their workflow (Lori offers a simple example that’s perfect for doctors who feel a bit wary)
- Online marketing in the post-pandemic world, and one thing Lori says is a huge “missed opportunity” for practices
- Why she thinks timeliness is a key driver of practice success (and why doctors shouldn’t be afraid of sounding too “sales-y”)
- What patients really mean when they say they want “convenience”
- The future of orthodontics, in Lori’s view
She also has a lot to say about surviving, pivoting, and growing in the post-COVID climate and beyond for orthodontics practices. Let’s dig into the details a bit:
- Lori has seen many of her consulting clients have “record-breaking months” after coming back from lockdowns — and it seems more than just a “catch-up phase.” She points to these practices’ ability to “pivot” toward internal changes that rely heavily on new technology, such as virtual care (think Zoom and telehealth visits) that minimizes the number of in-office visits patients need to make. Not only does this boost the convenience factor for patients, but it also helps address the “HR crunch” that many practices have faced when trying to hire and retain staff. By utilizing and leveraging tech, Lori says, lots of offices simply don’t have to replace many of the positions they’ve lost.
- One major use of digital technology: the “meet and greet.” Practices utilizing this well have pre-screening virtual appointments with probable patients in as little as 10 to 15 minutes, allowing them to really understand what these patients want (and whether they’re even eligible for treatment) before they come in to the office. Lori says this allows practices to enjoy conversion rates of as high as 90%, adding that these digital pre-screens are fundamental tools that embody the concept of working “smarter, not harder.”
- Lori also points to the unique benefits of apps and other digital programs for maximizing patient compliance — and in particular, reducing pain points for parents who are tired of fighting with their kids about whether they’re wearing their aligners and so on. Apps that allow patients to upload photos or video (often in real-time) let the clinic staff do the monitoring remotely, so patients don’t even have to come into the office to get valuable attention from a dedicated orthodontics team.
- Lori doesn’t mince words when it comes to increasing reach and client acquisition: “Offices need to have a digital marketing plan.” People are on the computer or on the phone, she says, and this is where and how they’re looking for you. When you overlay this digital marketing presence onto more organic, community-based opportunities (e.g., word of mouth referrals), then you’re creating a powerful engine for referrals, trust, and reputation building.
- She also underscores the irreplaceable value of timeliness. Citing research that shows just how dramatic the impact of ASAP responsiveness is on conversion rates, Lori urges practice owners to not worry about being “too sales-y” and to “keep being persistent until you get a ‘No.'” Timeliness (combined with flexible payment plans, flexible hours, and other elements of convenience) will help practices stay relevant in a world where “DIY aligner programs aren’t going away.”