When setting up an orthodontic start-up, the multitude of moving pieces and crucial decisions to make can be overwhelming. Few choices are as critical as the systems required for new patient onboarding and treatment initiation, as these directly impact the office's revenue stream.
At our orthodontic offices (elateorthodontics.com), we opted for Orthofi right from day one. In this blog, I'd like to share the pros and cons of this decision with you.
What is Orthofi?
Orthofi defines itself as: “A software and service solution designed to increase your starts and simplify your life. Our end-to-end solution streamlines patient onboarding, stimulates more conversions, and takes on the in-house burden of insurance, patient billing & collections, allowing you to focus on what matters most.”
It broadly categorizes its services into three areas:
1. Patient Acquisition: Streamlining patient onboarding and conversion with a user-friendly interface to enhance the same-day conversion rate.
2. Revenue Cycle Management: Involving patient and insurance billing and collection.
3. Data Analytics: Providing a concise summary of the above services.
Why did we choose Orthofi?
Personally, I'm all about systems. I firmly believe that a well-functioning operation should run smoothly regardless of the operator. Orthofi boasts excellent systems that reduce reliance on individual staff members. This is particularly crucial in a start-up environment, where the first hire often has minimal administrative experience. Notably, Orthofi's library and support team are quite effective in initiating the process. This provides a sense of security that onboarding and revenue management are ongoing even during staff absences or transitions. Robust systems reduce dependence on individual talents.
Does Orthofi replace a staff member?
Certainly not, especially not in a start-up. You'll still require personnel for various tasks like office maintenance, adjustments, call handling, and patient onboarding. Additionally, someone on the team needs to ensure Orthofi is functioning correctly. Errors by Orthofi's team aren't uncommon. For instance, in our offices, we cross-verify patient insurances where Orthofi claims there are no benefits, as we've observed numerous errors in this regard.
In short, Orthofi might not reduce your team count, but it will lighten their workload.
How does Orthofi affect the bottom line?
This is the critical question. Will Orthofi accelerate your financial goals? From an income perspective, Orthofi claims to improve onboarding experiences, potentially leading to more same-day starts. Additionally, efficient accounts receivable management could increase your earnings. While there is truth in this, it comes with a caveat.
Same-day starts rely heavily on the overall new patient experience, beginning with your online and community reputation, new patient calls, office experience, fee presentation, and incentives for same-day starts. In other words, more systems are needed to facilitate same-day starts.
Regarding accounts receivable, Orthofi makes calls and texts for payment collections but isn't a collection agency. You'll still need to vigilantly manage your delinquency list, requiring a trained staff member's proactive effort.
Regarding expenses, Orthofi incurs costs for its services. For start-ups, this could mean a fixed monthly expense initially, followed by a percentage of collected amounts from patients and insurance later.
Orthofi's fees encompass software fees, service charges, and transaction/merchant fees. While merchant fees are inevitable, with Orthofi, you can't negotiate rates as they choose your merchant services. The collective fees may vary depending on practice size. For us, it accounts for close to 7% of our revenue. Notably, Orthofi deducts its fees from received payments before transferring funds, leading to cash flow stress for a start-up orthodontic office.
Is Orthofi worth it?
In my view, Orthofi is a well-constructed and consistent product. However, as the practice leader, it's up to you to determine if this product meets your needs and if the fees are justifiable. It's been working for us so far, but we're also developing our own programs to eventually become more independent.
I want to clarify that while we utilize Orthofi in our orthodontic practices, this blog post discussing its pros and cons is not influenced by any incentives or endorsements from Orthofi. Our aim is to provide an unbiased review based on our firsthand experience with the software to assist other practitioners in making informed decisions for their practices.
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