Almost exactly a year ago I shut down the Ortho101 Facebook group and encouraged the more than 2000 orthodontists and residents to form their own groups that better served their needs (and wants). As often happens, Ortho101 had served its purpose and had become stagnant – covering and recovering the same ground with very entrenched mindsets on both sides. When this happens and progress grinds to a halt it’s time to move on. So we all did.

In the weeks leading up to Ortho101’s dissolution, I often received messages or posts on the group saying something like this:

“Burris, you keep taking about how much new technology and new delivery systems will change orthodontics but you don’t give any solutions. Stop being negative and explain how orthodontists can do well in the future you’re describing. What’s the solution?”

To which I always responded:

  1. I’m not being negative. I believe that great change brings great opportunity for those willing to adapt. Only those who refuse to change should see the new reality as a threat.
  2. I don’t have a solution… yet. But give me time. The reason I want to have my hand in the emerging delivery channels is so that I can understand and harness the model through a better understanding of the emerging systems and the broader customer base it can tap into.

It takes time and experience to gain understanding. It takes failure to gain wisdom. After heavy doses of experience and failure and another year under my belt I finally have a plan for how the traditional brick and mortar orthodontic office can:

  1. Effectively implement the best aspects of teledentistry
  2. Maintain autonomy and control
  3. Have all the patient records that they need and/or want
  4. Utilize their existing office, equipment and staff to attract and serve more patients than ever
  5. Maintain their pricing at whatever level the orthodontist feels appropriate (assuming the customer will pay that)
  6. Increase new patient volume and ultimately new case starts
  7. Deliver excellent care, customer service, value and enhanced convenience to consumers

Sound too good to be true? It isn’t. This model is actually very simple to visualize and understand now that I’m on the other side of all those failures and have more experience. I’d say I’m embarrassed that I didn’t see it earlier but I don’t think it was possible for me to understand, much less describe, this model without the intervening time and experience.  The best part is I can now share my plans on the new practice model at the AAO Annual Session in Washington DC. It’s going to be awesome to see what other orthodontists will do.

Ideas are cheap – even the great ones! Mindset and implementation are the difficult parts of changing and improving one’s life. This is amazing and frustrating to watch and the primary reason that I dissolved Ortho101. It comes down to the fact that we all generally find exactly what we looking for. This is why two people with the same training and the same skill set in the same demographic can get wildly different results!

Anyway, I wanted to mark the anniversary of the death of Ortho101 (and the birth of dozens of new, exciting FB groups and meetings) by letting you know what’s coming. It’s been a fantastic year and I can’t wait to resume the practice of in person orthodontics with a new floor plan, a new model, a new mindset and an incredibly bright future. Orthodontics is an awesome profession but like everything else we will have to adapt to the world as it changes instead of futilely railing against and trying to stop forces much larger than our tiny community of professionals. That’s not what’s happening currently but I have hope that we may yet see the light.


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