How To Market, Manage & Grow Your Orthodontic Practice

For the last 5 years, MMG Fusion has been a leader in the dental space with its suite of automated marketing and management software tools focusing on practice growth. Now, it’s created a customized product for the orthodontic space.

The all-in-one, cloud-based software is available as an integrated system or as separate modules, and works to, as the company puts it, “Market, Manage, and Grow” the practice. The modules provide management of online marketing, search optimization, social media marketing, online reputation management, patient communications and engagement, call recording and tracking, schedule optimization, and ROI assessment.

Since its launch, orthodontic practices have made up some 20% of the MMG Fusion customer population. The company recognized that orthodontists are unique among the dental specialties. One, they more proactively market their practices. And two, there are dramatic differences in terminology, clinical goals, and patient treatment flow when compared to general dentistry that were not accounted for in MMG Fusion. With these differences in mind, the company set out to create MMG Ortho.

“Twenty percent of our clients are extremely happy using our product for general dentists, but I think they’re going to be blown away that somebody actually took the time and effort to work with focus groups, our clients, key opinion leaders, and …went through every feature, line by line, flow by flow, and redesigned it for them,” says Paul Intlekofer, CEO of MMG Fusion, which is a four-time winner of the Cellerant Best of Class Technology Award.

Paul Intlekofer, CEO of MMG Fusion

Intlekofer uses the software’s reputation management module to explain the idiosyncrasies of the different specialties. In a general dentistry practice, staff are trained to ask for reviews every time a patient leaves the office—and the MMG Fusion software is set up to push out messaging to patients after that visit to solicit those reviews. In an orthodontic office, asking for a review at each appointment could be dicey. Orthodontic treatment extends over months, sometimes years. Ask an orthodontic patient for a review right after bonding their braces and you might catch them when they are experiencing discomfort. Ask for it 6 months into a 1-year treatment plan and they might be frustrated that treatment is taking so long. Neither situation is likely to translate into a glowing review. But catch that same patient as they’re walking out of the office after completing treatment—well, that’s more likely to translate into a 5-star review. MMG Ortho is designed to push out review requests to orthodontic patients on a schedule that tracks with the orthodontic experience.

“It seems like a subtle difference,” says Intlekofer, “but the product has to be changed to make sure that reviews are secured at the right time.”

The company paid the same attention to its ChairFill module. ChairFill runs in the background, automatically mining the practice’s patient records to find patients to fill last minute cancellations or other openings. With general dentistry practices, ChairFill focused on selectively searching patient records for the most profitable patients to help practices meet revenue goals. For MMG Ortho, ChairFill was tweaked to account for patient compliance and the fact that orthodontic treatment is based on a contract. If a general dentistry patient misses an appointment, more often than not, they’re ok and the practice can get them in eventually. But in orthodontics, if a patient misses weeks’ or months’ worth of appointments, treatment outcomes are at risk.

“Our ChairFill product had always been designed to go get unfinished treatment,” Intlekofer says. “Well, now it’s designed to make sure patients are compliant with their orthodontic contract.”

In addition, ChairFill combs the orthodontic practice’s records looking for leads or consults that haven’t progressed to treatment starts. Instead of having staff search through the records and dial for dollars, the ChairFill module automates this process, sending these patients customized messaging. For example, younger people respond more to text, so they receive texts. If the potential patient is a 16-year-old boy or a 40-year-old woman, the messaging will include before-and-after photos that look like them.

“At the end of the day, MMG Fusion’s product for the general dentistry community has been customized by about a third [for the orthodontic community]. Every product was analyzed based on the orthodontic patient flow, how [the orthodontic] office works, the terminology, contracts, and data they pull so they could see it in their language the way it actually happens,” says Intlekofer.

MMG Ortho also includes patient engagement and marketing tracker modules. The patient experience module includes a patient app that gives patients access to appointment scheduling and online payments. Meanwhile, the marketing tracker gives the practice insight into the actual revenue generated by its marketing campaigns. The tool tracks new patients and organizes and customizes these statistics to provide a quick and easy analysis of market spend. As Intlekofer puts it, the module looks at production and the lifetime value of the patient to assess the yield of each campaign.

And recently, the company rolled out its Unified Communications and Task Manager tools. The former gives practices ability to collaborate and connect both externally with patients and internally with staff, and replaces the office phone, text, and chat systems with a VoIP system using AI to capture patient data and load it into the patient record. The patient record is then converted into a Patient Pop that is automatically presented anytime staff communicate with the patient. The AI-powered task manager tool acts as a virtual office assistant, prioritizing, streamlining, and disseminating daily tasks to staff members. In addition, the tool monitors the task through to its completion.

To ensure that MMG Ortho is set up to work optimally for each practice, performance coaches work with staff to set up the software’s parameters. For the first 3 months, the company offers monthly reviews, and thereafter converts to quarterly—this is in addition to telephone support. The software, which uses machine learning, is compatible with a number of practice management software platforms on the market, including OrthoTrac, Cloud 9 Software, Ortho2, and Dolphin.

“These [modules], once they’re set up, they’re designed to do the work,” says Intlekofer. “The staff then has more time to do other pressing matters—focus on inventory, on helping the [doctor], on being more friendly and courteous to the patient to create a great experience. [This platform] makes the day easy.” OP

How MMG Fusion Drives Revenue & Quality of Care

Sona A. Saeidi, DMD

We implemented MMG Fusion’s full-service marketing, management, and growth software products in our 4 Soothing Dental practice locations in California’s San Francisco Bay Area beginning in 2016. Through a focus on patient experience and quality of care, Soothing Dental has significantly grown its revenue, number of active patients, case acceptance rates, and patient satisfaction while becoming more automated, and increasing profits.

This case study details how MMG Fusion’s software drove these results and helped our staff meet meaningful practice goals month after month and year after year. We separate our analysis into the MMG Market and MMG Manage suites of services.

Enlisting MMG Market: New Patient Acquisition, Patient Satisfaction, and Growth

All dental practices strive to bring in new patients to increase revenues and mitigate the unavoidable patient churn, which averages 12% nationally. We implemented MMG Fusion’s Websites SEO {search engine optimization]) and PPC (pay-per-click) and local directories to ensure that Soothing Dental was being found online and leaving a favorable impression with new patients visiting.

Once we were found online, MMG’s Reputation Management tool ensured we were chosen based on the large number and high quality of our reviews. Appointments were made easily using MMG’s ChairFill and Patient Portal, which offered patient-friendly features to increase patient satisfaction. Closing the loop, we used MMG’s Marketing Tracker Call Analysis to understand the return on investment (ROI) from our marketing efforts to help make better marketing decisions and reduce our cost per acquisition (CPA) for new patients. The following measurable results looking at key performance indicators (KPIs) demonstrate the significant impact MMG Market had on growing our 4 Soothing Dental offices.

CPA: A “well-run” practice should try to spend 10% to 20% of the expected first-30-day-production to acquire a new patient; that is, if they expect to produce $800 in the first 30 days (e.g., an ad campaign for crowns), they should want to spend $80 to $160 for a new patient. At Soothing Dental, we have reduced our CPA and achieved the 10% to 20% gold standard using the full market suite. This result is about 40% better than our competitors.

Reviews: Because Yelp is the most important review site in the San Francisco market, we focused on those reviews for 3 years. Using MMG’s Reputation Management and Task Manager tools, Yelp reviews increased from 40 to 417 over 3 years, which was at times the highest number of reviews on Yelp among all dental offices in the country. We then focused on Google reviews, which rose from 0 to 63 over 1 year.

Scheduling: MMG’s Online Scheduling eased this process, allowing our practices to reduce the time to complete online scheduling to under 60 seconds, with an average of 70% of patients now regularly scheduling this way.

Number of new patients: With better SEO/PPC and more effective marketing campaigns (an increased ROI per campaign), strong reviews, and easy scheduling, new patients increased from an average of 7 per month to 60 to 70.

Revenue per chair. A rule of thumb is to produce $250,000 per year per dental chair; our San Francisco office generates about $380,000 (significantly better than even a well-run practice). This was an increase from $157,000 per chair prior to using MMG Market Suite.

Automating with MMG Manage

Using the Patient Portal, Unified Communications, and Ava’s artificial intelligence (AI), we were able to implement a “patient first” culture by automating many processes and creating seamless communication with patients and between staff members in 4 geographic locations. The communication tool closed the distance between staff and made them more productive.

It can be tempting to focus attention on the razzle-dazzle of new patients and revenue, but creating effective, consistent, monitored, replicable processes and patient management strategies is just as important to a practice’s success. The following measurable improvements demonstrate the significant impact MMG Manage/Ava had on our operations.

Patient satisfaction and patient churn: MMG’s Patient Portal creates a so-called paperless office where the patient can complete tasks without having to call or email the office. Everything is patient-friendly and easier with automated new patient enrollment, visible treatment plans, online payments, Uber rides if needed, and Starbucks gift cards for rewarding compliance. Now, 85% of our patients have used the web app, and we have reduced patient churn from 23% to 8% compared with the national average of 12%. The revenue per patient using Patient Portal has also increased by 30% (Figure 1).

Automated processes with Virtual Office Manager, Ava: The main responsibility of the office manager is to ensure that tasks are defined, prioritized, assigned to the right person, and completed efficiently and effectively. We use Ava’s artificial intelligence to assume many of these responsibilities. Ava detects the tasks that need to be done and tries to perform the task automatically; if she can’t, she creates a task for the right staff member, along with best practices guidelines, and then tracks the task to completion. The task is added to the performance reports for each staff member so ongoing training can be provided effectively. It is noteworthy that prior to Ava, we couldn’t effectively measure how well our staff was performing discrete tasks. With Ava, we are assured our staff is working at optimal performance and can see for ourselves all that is accomplished on a daily and weekly basis.

MMG’s HR Suite: Soothing Dental implemented an effective bonus system through the HR suite, using individual, team, and practice KPIs, which generated a 15% increase in production. The time to run bonus payments and payroll was decreased from 8 hours to an hour per payroll due to both processes being fully automated.

MMG Fusion facilitates “best practices” using MMG Market and MMG Manage together for optimal scheduling and increasing case acceptance.

Scheduling Faster

We executed a few successful strategies through the use and implementation of the full MMG Fusion product suite. These best practices can be effectively reproduced only with the unique power of MMG Fusion’s AI, best practices data collection, and single sign-on laterally integrated suite of products.

Offering immediate availabilities to maximize new patients: An office without immediate availability for new patients is less likely to get new patients (Figure 2).

Most patients book their first visit within the next 2 days. If an office does not have availability within the next 2 days from the time a new patient wants to make an appointment, the patient will most likely not make the booking. It is critical to manage the office schedule to always allow for this availability.

We achieved this by using MMG’s Ava AI along with Patient Engagement and ChairFill, which show each offices’ availability for new patients. Should availability drop below a certain threshold, Ava tasks a staff member to make changes to the schedule. This strategic approach dramatically increases new patient scheduling rates.

Increasing Case Acceptance

When presenting a treatment plan, it is critical to effectively communicate the value of the treatment to the patient. This helps not only the patient’s oral health but also the business by ensuring necessary treatments are scheduled and practice production is increased. We use MMG’s Patient Portal and 3-D oral modeling and health score to easily show the patient how important each treatment is.

3-D oral modeling: This interactive function is patient-facing and color-coded to show pending and completed treatments (fillings, crowns, extractions, cleanings), making it easy for patients to see and understand their care. Patients can select and click a color-coded tooth issue to schedule an online appointment (Figure 3).

Oral health score: The scoring system is like a credit score for one’s teeth and mouth. A number between 1 and 100 is calculated using completed treatments, unscheduled treatments, and other factors, such as hygiene appointments kept. When a treatment is added to the list of recommended treatments, we use the newly updated score to show the patient its importance.

MMG’s Patient Engagement is then used to follow up with patients to complete their unscheduled treatments through email, SMS, or the mobile Patient Portal web app to ensure that all patients maintain their oral health.

Figure 4 shows how patients’ oral health score improves over time in Soothing Dental offices. The longer they stay with Soothing Dental, the higher their score gets. This shows the effectiveness of Soothing Dental’s processes and MMG Fusion’s tools.

Getting Results

By effectively using MMG to optimize old processes, Soothing Dental has created a healthier and thriving dental practice that substantially grew profits across 4 different locations.

How Automating Your Practice Tasks Improves Productivity And Your Bottom Line

MMG Fusion built a system for making office growth automatic and staff more productive.

MMG Fusion has designed an online system to better market, manage, and grow dental practices. The system is designed to attract new patients, improve their experience, and facilitate daily tasks.

MMG Fusion was developed based on analysis and understanding of dentistry compared with large consumer product or retail businesses.

Common goals:

  • Motivating someone to choose one business over the competition
  • Making it easy for someone to decide to buy or schedule
  • Creating a positive experience and repeat business
  • Making people willing to share positive reviews


  • Most of a dentist’s work involves specialized clinical care, with limited time for management.
  • Dental office employees are not marketing experts.
  • Dentists cannot access resources of larger public companies.

Practices can achieve the marketing and operational success of larger companies via automated software technology with machine learning. MMG Fusion’s products are customized for the dental profession and designed to work as one system that understands the dental market, patient behavior, staff, and office workflow.

MMG Fusion’s ChairFill product connects you to your patients wherever they are. Custom, targeted communications on their phone, tablet, or computer.

The MMG Fusion system was designed with input from dental opinion leaders, office owners, experienced executives, and software engineers. The company’s chief product officer (and lead software engineer) owns four dental offices. This allowed MMG to test and refine products in multiple locations with different dynamics to create an optimized system easy for staff to use and implement.

Step 1: Attracting Patients

MMG’s Market Suite helps practices to be visible online, to be chosen from among competitors, and to easily make new patient appointments. The principles applicable to large companies with big marketing budgets also work in growing a dental practice, and now the resources to do so are available in one place. Those principles and matching MMG tools include:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO) and directories help a practice get noticed because 85% of patients look online for a new dentist.
  • MMG offers levels of websites that provide value and results for any type of practice, because it is important for a website to make a positive first impression.
  • MMG manages SEO and Pay-Per-Click advertising for any size practice, because digital ads using Facebook or Google AdWords are important.
  • MMG’s ChairFill automatically creates personalized ads and targeted marketing campaigns.
  • MMG’s Reputation Management makes sure a first impression is the best it can be, because positive reviews are important.
  • MMG’s Call Analysis/Call Conversion tool helps ensure that staff members are converting calls.
  • MMG’s system makes it easy to schedule an appointment online.
  • MMG’s Marketing Tracker allows practices to make more informed decisions, so advertising money is spent on what works.

Each component of the Market Suite builds from the next. MMG Fusion’s integrated system amplifies practice results, so 1 + 1 + 1 does not necessarily equal 3, but possibly 4 or 5.

Step 2: Focus on Patient Experience

Attracting new patients is crucial, as is keeping them and giving them a great experience. The first step in that process is the patient’s selection of a dental practice. When it comes to making this decision, 86% of potential patients read reviews before selecting a dentist.

Managing Reputation

MMG Fusion’s reputation management tool monitors 13 review sites in its dashboard and offers weekly and monthly reports for download or distribution via email. Patients automatically receive review requests via text, email, or a combination, which is based on best practices.

Practices can segment which patients receive review requests based on prior interactions and appointment type. This allows a dentist to delay sending that request until after the treatment plan is complete. The platform offers methods to improve patient response and consistently increase review quality and quantity.

MMG’s reputation management tool also collects patient feedback through customizable internal surveys. Practices can use this as a benchmarking tool and to measure net promoter score, a core key performance indicator for many clients.

Patient Benefits of Online Scheduling

If the option exists, 85% of patients would set up an appointment online. Ease and convenience of scheduling an appointment are crucial. On average, patients scheduling with the MMG Fusion tool can find and choose an opening and confirm their selection in less than 60 seconds.

Online scheduling should be available on a dental website. Through MMG, links can be generated to schedule anywhere there is a digital presence, including email, text messages, social media, or local directories. The goal is for a patient never to be more than one click from scheduling. Seventy-five percent of online appointments are booked between 5 PM and 8 AM. Without the option to schedule online, many potential patients will choose a different dentist.

A Portal Improves Patient Experience

Having a streamlined enrollment process for new patients creates a great experience. MMG’s Patient Portal is a paperless system that saves time with new patient registration. Patients may e-sign a consent form, complete and update their dental and health history and use online scheduling, check insurance eligibility, make payments online, and get Uber rides. Such convenience leads to patient satisfaction and retention.

Improving Case Acceptance

MMG’s Patient Portal gets patients more involved in managing their oral health by using a personalized oral health score which puts open treatment plans front and center. The sliding scoring system makes it fun and engaging for patients and keeps them focused on coming back for treatment and increasing their score.

Using artificial intelligence (AI) and 3D imagery, patients can see completed work and what treatment plans are still open. By educating patients with visual cues and engaging them through personalized information in their Oral Health Score, patients achieve better outcomes.

Experiences that Engage Patients

MMG Fusion’s Patient Engagement tool, integrated with practice management software, allows practices to communicate with patients via email, text, or voice calls to send appointment reminder and confirmation requests.

In addition to reminders, confirmation requests, and recall messaging, this tool generates one-time campaigns offering practices the potential for enormous return on investment (ROI). Year-end benefit reminder campaigns, new service announcements, and more can be customized with the assistance of a dedicated account manager. HTML files can be uploaded to the content library, with those messages being scheduled for distribution.

Nearly every MMG client used this tool to stay connected with patients during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, to communicate practice status updates and to share new check-in and check-out procedures.

Targeted, Personal Marketing

In today’s digital marketing environment, the ability to target and customize marketing allows businesses and offices to think in new ways. Targeted, customized marketing is used effectively by large companies. MMG’s “Grow Suite” includes ChairFill and Marketing Tracker. These give a small dental practice the capability to search for specific patients with unfinished treatment and to deliver customized emails, texts, videos, and promotions in order to optimize schedules and maximize growth.

STEP 3: Machine learning With Virtual Office Assistant, Ava

MMG’s Manage Suite was designed to help automate practices and increase productivity. It starts with Ava, a virtual office assistant. The customized MMG Unified Communication system allows for easier communication, including a patient screen pop and every conceivable phone system feature. It allows robust, intuitive collaboration among staff. A Task Management function assigns responsibilities and measures completeness.

MMG Fusion’s Virtual Office Assistant (Ava) works side-by-side with staff and the practice’s other software tools to identify and complete daily tasks, leaving dentists, orthodontists, and oral surgeons free to focus on treatment and care.

The foundation of the MMG Unified Communications is a tool connecting the staff, allowing them to engage in conversations via text, email, or webchat to obtain and share important information and further enhance patient experience. Email and SMS messages are sent and captured from the patient’s profile page, creating an electronic paper trail, and staff can attach files and forms to send to patients to review.

Similar to an interoffice communication tool like Slack, team members can also collaborate and share internal messages on a patient’s profile, whether to ask for support or update a on a completed task. These messages are color-coded and only visible by practice team members and the hierarchy of users within the enterprise.

Using screen pops to alert users of new messages, staff can be notified within the MMG Fusion dashboard or on their desktop. The screen pops add to the efficiency of the Unified Communications platform by reducing the number of clicks needed to get to the reply, making it easy for staff to access the communication history.

With webchat enabled, messages from potential and existing patients also pop up in the dashboard and responses can be sent back from the same screen. If there aren’t any team members available to reply, Ava’s AI webchat tool requests contact information from the visitor and creates a follow up task for a member of the team. This information is populated into the patient profile allowing the team member to plan ahead.

MMG uses Ava’s AI to assume and assign office responsibilities. Ava detects outstanding tasks and tries to perform those tasks automatically. If Ava can’t, Ava creates a task for the right staff member, and then tracks the task to completion. For example, Ava can create a task for staff to call a patient to reschedule when a patient cancels an appointment and doesn’t use the online schedule tool to rebook. As tasks are assigned, they’re added to the performance reports for each staff member so ongoing training can be effectively provided, as necessary.

Ava provides dentists and their staff with all the tools needed to manage any practice, lower overhead, motivate staff, and improve patient experience. Ava works with staff, and with the practice’s other software tools, to allow dentists to focus on treatment and care. Ava helps turn the Monday morning huddle into a shorter, more productive meeting. MMG’s Market Suite, Manage (Ava) Suite and Growth Suite (ChairFill) does it all for a practice.