Earned Placement: Platform for Success

Earned Placement: Platform for Success 

Dr. Bill Dischinger developed a new—and easier—way to practice by using DentalMonitoring

The DentalMonitoring platform allows orthodontists to track patient progress on a weekly basis. The more than 130 intraoral observations include anteroposterior correction, extraction space closure, midline deviation, bracket debonds, wire movement, aligner seat/unseat, TADs, Class II correctors, ties, buttons and attachments. Clinicians can prioritize patients who need clinical attention the most by using automation to keep those patients engaged to improve hygiene and compliance, can catch potential setbacks early in treatment to stay on track, and can be prepared ahead of appointments to better manage schedules.

After 23 years as an orthodontist, Dr. Bill Dischinger had a vision for his future, and it involved spending a lot less time in his Lake Oswego, Oregon, practice. So when he saw a presentation from a colleague who had used DentalMonitoring to maintain practice production levels while working significantly fewer days than Dischinger was, he knew he’d found what he was searching for.

Remote patient monitoring gave Dischinger the freedom to spend more time with his family and speaking at orthodontic meetings without feeling like he was missing production time. The changes he made also resulted in positive effects that extended to his staff, his patients and their parents.

Dischinger says that while practice efficiency had been a primary reason he began using DentalMonitoring, doing so also has improved both the level of patient care and the treatment experience. Based on his preimplementation research, the orthodontist had expected a certain level of increased productivity, but he was still surprised by the effectiveness of the technology in action.

For example, DentalMonitoring helps orthodontic teams quickly identify patients who’ve been wearing their aligners incorrectly. Previously, it wouldn’t have been uncommon for a patient to come into an appointment and be nearly eight weeks behind schedule; now, remote monitoring means problems can be solved early in treatment.

“The ability to know what’s going on weekly, as opposed to every two to three months, has been impressive,” says Dischinger. “Active monitoring helps patients receive the best-quality orthodontic care possible, because there’s more time to properly finish treatment.”

More oversight, with fewer appointments
Perhaps not surprisingly, the freedom that Dischinger was looking for in his schedule also turns out to appeal to busy patients and parents who are no longer forced to rearrange their schedules for bimonthly in-person visits. This convenience has made remote monitoring a market differentiator to potential patients.

“I’ve told orthodontists all over the world: ‘Sorry, but you’re not that cool. People don’t want to come in and see you; they just want you to straighten their teeth,’ ” says Dischinger. “When patients can get straight teeth without spending a lot of time in an orthodontist’s office, their experience is so much better.” (Plus, the prospect of having more free time gives potiential patients more of a reason to seek treatment, and to be thrilled by how their progress is going once they begin.)

“If we could give a patient a pill that allowed them to wake up the next morning with straight teeth, or if we could give them aligners or put on braces only once and tell them they didn’t need to come back until their teeth were completely straight, people would pay a huge amount of money for those options,” Dischinger says. “With DentalMonitoring, we’re close to the second option.”

While some doctors still consider remote monitoring or virtual treatment in the same tier as direct-to-consumer care, Dischinger says that’s absolutely not the case; in fact, he believes his practice now offers a higher level of care than before. Before remote monitoring, patients might visit the practice every two months—which is a long time for something to go wrong. With traditional orthodontics, the doctor can only hope and guess where a patient will be in their treatment the next time they walk into the practice. “Now that we’re seeing them every week, the improvements are huge,” Dischinger says. “Even by only taking hygiene into account, we know exactly how the patient is doing. If people think virtual care progand remote monitoring aren’t ‘real orthodontics,’ they don’t understand the power of the technology.”

DentalMonitoring has proven to be an excellent solution for teen patients who want to be treated with clear aligners but whose parents don’t trust them to be responsible participants. Weekly check-ins hold the teens accountable, and in-app communication between patients and team members is easy and convenient. “We can use clear aligners more often because we know there won’t be compliance issues,” Dischinger says. A coordinator can respond quickly and directly to patients, or can assign questions to a doctor if needed.

Practice growth doesn’t require more space
With two decades of experience, Dischinger says, “I look back at how many chairs we used to run and how many days we used to work, and I don’t think I could do it again. I used to go to conferences and all the speakers would talk about how big their office was, and how many chairs, and how much staff. The message was: To be successful, you had to keep getting bigger and bigger. That may have been the case at the time, but in the state of orthodontics now, that’s outdated.

“Today, because of dynamic scheduling, my practice has extra space we aren’t using. In the future, new practices or practices building a new space could do so with a smaller footprint,” he says.

Using technology to ease the team’s burden

Over the past three years, many if not all orthodontists have struggled with staffing issues, and it looks as if the challenge isn’t going away anytime soon. Dischinger points to an unintended benefit of new technology: “For us, DentalMonitoring has become another team member.” And, far from being threatened by the introduction of artificial intelligence, Dischinger says his staff loves what Dental- Monitoring can do for the practice. “That’s what keeps them from seeing 110 patients a day,” he says. “Instead, we’re going to see only 70 patients a day, and we’re going to finish work on time and go home.”

Improving the staff experience has been a hugely beneficial unintended consequence of the new workflow. While orthodontic staff can sometimes resist change, Dischinger says his team believes using remote monitoring has made work easier and more fun.

Dynamic scheduling involves change—but good change
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Dischinger spent 15 days a month at his practice, running six chairs; today, he’s at 11 doctor days a month running 3½ chairs. But instead of slowing down, he’s enjoying the freedom gained from using DentalMonitoring. “The new schedule has been a blessing in my life,” he says. He gets to spend more time with patients who do come into the office, for example, and he no longer spends nights and weekends working on clear aligner approvals. He can leave his work at work, where it belongs!

For many orthodontists and their team members, the biggest shift for a practice that switches to remote monitoring is the transition to dynamic scheduling, Dischinger says. “My front office was initially alarmed: ‘Wait, we’re not going to schedule an appointment before the patient leaves?’ ”

Shifting an orthodontic office to dynamic scheduling is a huge step—and not a simple one to make, because it involves a change in perspective as well as in how the doctor and team members do things. The concern about how patients will interact with a practice that doesn’t automatically schedule follow-up appointments is a reasonable one; a practice needs to implement the technology fully into its workflows and communicate with patients and parents that this approach actually involves more, not less, interaction during treatment.

And if a patient isn’t submitting their scans as scheduled, a team member will need to address that directly with in-app communication. But Dischinger says he’s another member of the committed dynamic schedule team. “The proof is there. Our team wouldn’t go back now.”

Today, Dischinger has a lot more freedom because of the way he’s set up his practice, and he can spend that time with people he cares about most. He says the only downside to bringing remote monitoring into his practice was that he wasn’t able to do it sooner.

By incorporating DentalMonitoring into the workflow of his orthodontic practice, Dr. Bill Dischinger has more time to spend with his family
(pictured below) without worrying about missing production time.
To learn more about the capabilities and possibilities of practicing with the DentalMonitoring platform, visit dental-monitoring.com.
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