Scalable Patient Love by Dr. Anil Idiculla and Casey Bull

Scalable Patient Love 

Make your patients feel special ... without unduly taxing your staff

by Casey Bull and Dr. Anil Idiculla

The future of the healthy and growing orthodontic practice relies on emotional bonds as much as it does clinical excellence. It is in human nature to find connections and to feel part of something bigger than oneself, and the past couple of years have tipped the scales even more. People crave meaningful personal interactions while also placing extreme value on personal time.

Coupling these facts with the continuous increase in competition in the orthodontic industry, the way orthodontists serve patients has to evolve. To remain successful, doctors will need to adopt a new mindset that focuses on the emotional as much as the technology and innovation.

Trust is one of the most important dimensions of competition. Practices that focus on trust as part of how they differentiate their practice will create true value for their community, while practices that fail to do so run the risk of simply being commodity providers.

Faceless direct-to-consumer orthodontic companies do not present patients with a sustainable health care experience that our practices and communities have come to expect. These companies are built upon scale through aggressive marketing, mass purchasing power, and the reduction of human interaction and touch points. Their goals are to reach as many consumers as possible and capture the low-hanging fruit through unfortunate miseducation.

However, at the local private practice level, the key elements of love that were the pillars on which those practices were built are sometimes too quickly forgotten with growth. As practices grow, they can fall into the trap of feeling like a “warehouse” or too “corporate”—which essentially means that the love is not being conveyed in the same ways it used to, or in the ways that our patients expect.

To ensure that these pillars are not lost, we’d like to introduce you to a concept called “scalable patient love.”

Scalable Patient Love (noun phrase)
Thoughtful acts of gratitude and/or kindness for an individual that are capable of being provided throughout the entire practice.

The two main components of scalable patient love are being thoughtful and being scalable.

Be thoughtful

Take a moment to reflect on the reasons a patient might give you a glowing five-star review. Then think about what it would take for them to go out of their way to recommend your practice to a friend or family member.

The reasonable level of expectation when it comes to patient experience at an orthodontic practice is relatively high. Among a long list of experiences, patients expect one-on-one time with the doctor, for team members to know them by name, to gain the perfect smile, to finish treatment on time, and to not wait more than five minutes for their appointment to start. It is when a patient’s experience with the practice peaks above that reasonable level of expectation that they refer their friends to you.

To achieve that peak, the patient has to experience something special. It doesn’t need to be something they experience at every interaction with the practice; it just needs to be memorable. There are many opportunities through the patient journey where you can really make a standout moment. But the key to ensuring this is delivered to your patients consistently is to put mechanisms in place that limit the additional time and money required to execute.

Be scalable

Bandwidth is an issue. Team members can struggle to keep up with their current workload, let alone any projects added to their task list. Scalability, in this context, can be defined as a practice’s ability to maintain the quality of patient experience without being hampered by its structure or available resources when faced with practice growth. Here are some tips when it comes to maintaining scalability in patient experience:

Empower your employees with leadership and decision-making abilities. Team members are best positioned to keep an eye on the patient experience: They naturally own more than 75% of all patient interaction and ultimately control the experience. Empowering your team with decision-making abilities in this area gives them ownership and pride in the environment and experience they’re creating.

Give significant importance to the practice culture. The impact of the culture of a practice is far-reaching. A positive, nurturing culture results in increased team member engagement, collaboration, work performance and more. Having a great practice culture is imperative to delivering a fantastic patient experience on a regular basis, even during seasonal or practice growth spikes.

Invest in tech. Technology can help your practice implement scalable patient love in ways that analog efforts would fail to. It’s important not to lean on technology as a crutch, but to use it to propel you forward.

Tactically automate. Find opportunities to automate or simplify administrative tasks. Implement intelligent systems that lift the burden of administrative tasks so your team can give undivided attention to patient interactions.


Practices engage with patients in numerous ways for a multitude of reasons during treatment. The first step to implementing scalable patient love is to make modifications to those already occurring interactions. One of the best opportunities occurs at the start of the patient journey. Don’t wait until patients are already in your office! Start before they come in, so it will set the bar for how you want your practice to be seen in the community.

For example, what can be done to make the new-patient consultation appointment reminder more memorable? One idea is to have the doctor record a selfie-style video personally welcoming the patient to the practice and letting them know what to expect during the consultation.

How could you make this idea scalable? Record the video in a way that there’s no mention of the date of the appointment or name of the patient. This video can now be sent to any new patient coming in for a consultation. Now we need to automate this task: Use technology to have the video text message sent automatically one day before the new-patient consultation. This is scalable patient love.


We encourage you to look at every single touchpoint your practice has with potential patients, active patients and posttreatment patients and strategize about how you and your team can be proactive in the patient journey, instead of being reactive and only “loving” them when they’re physically in your office.

Proactive, scalable love is the key ingredient to a recipe of sustainable growth and long-term success.

Author Bio
Casey Bull Casey Bull, the global director of content and community at The Invisible Orthodontist (TIO), drives TIO’s efforts to provide member practices with marketing and business management expertise. Bull began her career in the orthodontic industry in 2014 working for Dr. Alexander Waldman in Beverly Hills, where she developed a range of practice management processes encompassing tracking and reporting, management systems and templates, treatment plans, marketing programs and more.

Anil Idiculla Dr. Anil Idiculla has made a name for himself as a orthodontic clinician and international lecturer. The past president of the Rocky Mountain Society of Orthodontists, he has been named a top orthodontist in 5280 magazine every year since he opened his flagship practice in 2008. After growing his practice brand, i-Orthodontics, to five Colorado locations along with a nonprofit location in Uganda, Idiculla became a partner with Corus Orthodontists, and this year he accepted the role of director of doctor relationships at Corus Orthodontists.
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