Practice SnapShots: Success Using Virtual Consults with Dr. Alex Waldman and Dr. Portia Carter
Welcome to the first of our Practice SnapShots Series with our host and SmileSnap advocate, Dr. Alex Waldman of Waldman Orthodontics in Beverly Hills, California. SnapShots has been created to bring our community valuable doctor and practice content. In our first video, Dr. Waldman interviews Dr. Portia Carter of BE Orthodontics in Atlanta, Georgia on practice success and how virtual consults have helped her practice thrive in 2020.
In some ways, Dr. Portia Carter’s practice isn’t anything revolutionary. For patients throughout the greater Atlanta area, Dr. Carter delivers services similar to those of other orthodontists in her community. Dr. Carter’s team evaluates smiles, fits retainers, installs braces and functional appliances, and keeps her patients on a steady track of healing and improvement.
However, Dr. Carter’s practice has one major advantage over some of her professional colleagues: BE Orthodontics uses virtual consults.
Yes, you read that correctly. Dr. Carter is one of a growing number of dentists and orthodontists who rely on a digital platform like SmileSnap for at least some of their weekly patient virtual consults.
”It actually happened during the shutdown, when we were considering reopening and what we were going to do, knowing that a lot of [our patients] might be apprehensive to coming into the office,” Dr. Carter explains during this virtual one-on-one interview with Dr. Alex Waldman. ”[My partner] found this platform and I started studying it and she started talking about things that were going to happen… so I took it and ran with it.”
As an industry veteran, Dr. Carter is accustomed to changing with the times. She has practiced orthodontics professionally since 1997, the year she opened her first practice with her business partner, Dr. Kathy Bailey-Bruster.
”She didn’t like me in the beginning,” Dr. Carter remembers. ”She thought I was a little quiet. And if you know her, she’s all over the place— she’s a true bumblebee. So she’s like, ’Oh she’s quiet, and she’s stuck up, and she’s unfriendly.’”
Fortunately for their future careers, the two aspiring orthodontists overcame those initial personality differences to forge a fruitful partnership— one that began over two decades ago, when Dr. Bailey-Bruster placed an unexpected phone call to Dr. Carter.
”I get a call out of the blue in May 1997,” Dr. Carter explains. ”[Dr. Bailey-Bruster says] ’Portia, I had this dream and… I just keep seeing your face. Would you like to be my partner?’”
Dr. Carter recalls feeling flabbergasted at the invitation. ”She said I dropped the phone!”
Nearly 23 years later, the doctors own and operate two orthodontics offices in the greater Atlanta area, where they say SmileSnap virtual consultations have become an integral part of the way they serve their patients.
Dr. Carter in particular is an enthusiastic fan of the digital platform.
”Our patients really embraced SmileSnap because we kind of built it up on our social media,” she says. ”We got Instagram and did little chit chats and… kind of told patients what we were going to do, and they were really receptive.”
According to Dr. Carter, virtual consultations have exceeded their original expectations and actually improved their practice’s day-to-day operations.
”We use it a lot,” Dr. Carter says. ”My team likes it because they feel more productive. We can see more patients, more consults… it kind of weeds out some patients that may not come in anyway, so we’re not wasting their time.”
Dr. Carter is far from alone in recognizing a place for SmileSnap in the orthodontics practice of the future. Like Dr. Carter, many doctors are eager to discover a cost-effective way to save time on initial consultations with patients who may – or may not – actually start a treatment plan. Less time spent on in-person consultations means more time that a doctor can spend on their most committed patients.
Plus, as Dr. Carter points out, SmileSnap virtual consults reach patients who may not feel as comfortable during an in-person, face-to-face interview.
”I think it’s a really good platform for patients, because a lot of people who want braces or want their smile changed, some of them are insecure about their smile,” Dr. Carter explains. ”I feel this is a good platform to bridge that insecurity. Some patients that I’ve done virtual consultations on feel a little better behind a screen than in person. I tend to get a lot of patients that way, because at the end of the conversation the parent will say, ’My girl looks like she feels comfortable, she’s smiling over here’… So I think it’s a good confidence builder.”
Of course, if you’re an owner and operator of your own practice, you may be wondering: What about the bottom line?
According to Dr. Carter, virtual consults have actually increased the new patient conversion rate at BE Orthodontics.
”When we do our live consultations, when they come in, they’re well informed and they really want to start,” Dr. Carter says. ”It has really increased our starts.”
Most importantly, Dr. Carter attests to the easier, more positive experience that SmileSnap virtual consults offer patients.
”When they come to the office or they come in for that [first] appointment, they’re excited about coming in, ” Dr. Carter says. ”Because they’ve actually met me before and they want to see more. I see a different transition… the patients who actually come into the office want to be there. And that’s a good start.”
Curious to see our award-winning platform in action? Click here to get a live 1-on-1 demo of SmileSnap virtual consults and learn how it can be a game-changing solution for your dental practice.