Orthodontic patient starts increased in 2010
Patient starts by American Association of Orthodontists members increased by 4 percent per member in 2010 over 2008, according to the latest AAO Member & Patient Census Study. Conducted every two years, the study tracks such trends as patient starts, staffing concerns and referral patterns. The study showed that new patient starts increased moderately from 228 per member to 237 last year.
These figures remain below the peak of 2004, when members experienced an average of 262 new patient starts. In addition, new patient exams dropped slightly from 375 to 359 per member and new case presentations fell from 232 to 226.
Total patients in active treatment increased 0.8 percent per member, from 502 to 506, again indicating a modest rise in volume. The number of active, practicing AAO members continue to grow steadily, from 9,045 in 2004 to 9,456 in 2008 and 9,660 last year.
The total number of patients in treatment by members grew by 2.5 percent in 2010 to 4,888,000. Of the total number of patients treated, about 3,440,000 were children ages 8 to 17, representing about 8.2 percent of U.S. children in that age group.
As the population grows, assuming AAO members continue to treat 8.2 percent of U.S. children, each member will gain, on average, 44 more patients in 2015 as compared to 2010. Adult patients increased 2.5 percent to a total of 1,075,000.
Other survey findings:
- Members saw patients an average of 30 hours a week in 2010, up one hour a week from 2008, while clinicians devoted 45 hours a week to the practice, down an hour from the previous survey.
- Members saw an average of 50 patients a day, up from 48 in 2008.
- The average length of treatment reported is 22 months.
- In 2010 the average AAO member employed seven full-time and three part-time staff members.
- The number of members in multiple-doctor practices declined from 28 percent to 24 percent, down significantly from 31 percent in 2006.
- Nearly half (47 percent) of members report using Facebook to promote their practices and more than one-third (35 percent) say they spend more than $10,000 a year to promote their practices.