As part of a collaboration with business analytics provider, Gaidge, after each calendar quarter and full calendar year the AAO receives and shares with members key metrics compiled from a subset of Gaidge client practices. This subset includes:

● More than 300 single-doctor practices under $1 million in quarterly productivity; and
● More than 200 multiple-doctor practices with up to 10 locations.

The purpose of the collaboration is to aid members with assessment of practice health, short-term and long-term goal-setting and other key practice processes.

Production, Collections and Receivables Rebound

For the third quarter of 2021, in addition to the usual comparison data with the same quarter of the previous year, Gaidge has provided comparisons with Q3 2019.

The comparisons provide a snapshot of how well practices are building on pre-pandemic strengths, as well as growth from the peak of the pandemic in 2020.  Key metrics indicate that the financial health of the specialty is rebounding. Highlights include:

● Net production for Q3 2021 showed strong growth in comparison with 2019 and moderate growth over Q3 2020 in both practice groups. In single-doctor practices production increased by 11.3% over Q3 2019 and 3.9% vs. 2020 Q3. In multi-doctor practices, net production was up 14.3% over Q3 2019 and 2.9% over Q3 2020. *

● Net collections in single-doctor practices increased by 10.6% over Q3 2019 and 9.6% over Q3 2020. Multi-doctor practices achieved net collection gains of 16.4% over Q3 2019 and 12.2% over Q3 2020.

● Receivables also increased, in single-doctor practices by 16.8% over Q3 2019 and by 16.3% over Q3 2020, and in multi-doctor practices by 12.7% over Q3 2019 and by 14.1% over 2020.

Aligner Treatment Driving Growth

● In single-doctor practices aligner starts increased 33.9% over Q3 2019 and 10.9% over 2020. For multi-doctor practices, aligner starts were up 40.2% over 2019 and 9.5% over 2020. *

● Growth in adult exams likely helped produce the gains in aligner starts. Adult exams increased in single-doctor practices by 19.8% over Q3 2019 and by 5.6% vs. 2020. In multi-doctor practices, adult exams increased by 34.9% over Q3 2019 and by 8.1% over Q3 2020. 

● Q3 2021 showed a mixed picture in the “All Other Starts” category, with non-aligner starts down in single-doctor practices by -1.5% since Q3 2019 and down -2.9% from 2020. In multi-doctor practices, All Other Starts increased 6.7% from Q3 2019 and went down by -2.4% from 2020.

● Child exam numbers may explain the aligner vs. non-aligner start differences. Child exams were down in single-doctor practices by -6.7% from Q3 2019, although there was an increase of 2.2% over Q3 2020.  In multi-doctor practices, child exams grew moderately in both years, up 3.3% compared with Q3 2019 and 6.2% vs. Q3 2020.  

The AAO recommends that all children see an orthodontist by age 7. Materials available for member use in practice marketing, that explain this recommendation, include the Age 7 brochure from our Patient Education collection as well as the parents’ flier, The Right Time for an Orthodontic Check-up: No Later Than Age 7. These pieces may be useful as communities open back up and opportunities for in-person outreach increase.

Many practices also find that strong structure and consistent effort with observation or recall programs help keep child starts on track.  A free archived lecture, “Connect from Birth to Braces: Use Technology to Upgrade Your Observation Program to Start More, Happier Patients!”

Presented by Dr. Dan Bills, this lecture is available to AAO members via the On-Demand CE Catalog.  (To access the lecture, enter “Observation” in the search box under “AAO Business of Orthodontic Lectures are FREE to all members, 24/7.”

View Additional Q3 2021 Metrics from Gaidge

* Interested in deepening your business knowledge to increase the productivity of your practice? Consider enrolling in the Wharton-AAO Mastering the Business of Orthodontics program. This eight-week course features faculty from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business, paired with orthodontic practice management experts. The Spring 2022 cohort is enrolling now.

** Interested in in-house fabrication of aligners? A new AAO member resource, TechSelect, provides over 40 videos and guides. Evaluate and compare 3D printers and other needed equipment and lock in best prices from trusted partner companies. Use the interactive tool to calculate the number of cases needed to recover the investment of setting up an in-house lab.