Pandemic startup practice — how we survived and thrived

Dr. Miriam Hall shows how adding technology during the pandemic to her startup practice helped her to prepare for future business.

Miriam Hall, DMD

If someone were to tell me a year ago that I was going to open a startup orthodontic practice in the middle of a pandemic, I would never have believed it in a million years. Here we are, 6 months into our practice, and we can reflect back on all of the challenges we faced, and what has set us apart. We could have let the overwhelming circumstances own us and bring us down, but we didn’t. Being a startup, we had no choice but to embrace the challenge. We encouraged parents to get their children started with treatment while they were out of school and sports, offering a COVID-19 friendly environment with only a few families in the office at a time. Marketing was targeted through social media and created a large increase in adult patients, wanting braces or aligners, who were previously self-conscious and could now hide it with masks. “When is a better time to consider fixing your teeth than when you are wearing masks for the unforeseeable future?” The staff and I gave out custom Hall Orthodontic masks ordered through Rafael Nadal to every patient and parent — our walking brand on people’s faces.

I designed our modern and tech-advanced clinic, built by Boyd Industries, with each side unit fully equipped and organized for every type of appointment, making the clinic much more efficient. Our utilization of technology with cloud-based Wave software has allowed us to become a patient-centric practice with convenient online scheduling, virtual consultations, electronic new patient forms, and texting communication capability. Our iTero® scanner and SprintRay 3D printer offer an entirely digital and impression-less workflow. We use the iTero scanner during every new patient appointment and effectively improve patient conversion by showing the patient simulation and the changes that would be made possible with treatment. After using alginate for several years as an associate, going completely impression-less was the best decision that we have ever made. Parents who once had braces are always impressed and thankful for the technology because the appliances fit perfectly every single time. This new technology has allowed us to completely eliminate a band-fit appointment since the NEOLab indirectly fits the bands for us.

As a mother of four young children, I found it difficult to travel to advanced continuing education courses and would often ask the lecturers if the courses were recorded. COVID-19 has disrupted the traditional on-site conferences and has forced us all to embrace virtual learning. From treatment-coordinating courses to advanced learning courses, these platforms are now at our disposal from the comfort of our homes. We took advantage of this during the pandemic to ensure we were staying current on the latest technologies to offer the best care for our patients.

I cannot stress enough the importance of showcasing your orthodontic work. For years, I diligently took records and stored every single type of case treatment and created a portfolio book for both referring dentists and our waiting room and consultation rooms. The portfolio book has allowed us to show patients and parents what a finished case would look like with confidence. It includes the most complex and beautifully finished cases, and we have even given every dentist in the area a copy of the book. The response exceeded my expectations, and it has given dentists the confidence to refer to our practice when they didn’t even know me.

In the midst of the unforeseeable future, we must look within ourselves to find what sets us apart, always putting our best foot forward and always, as author Stephen Covey says, “Begin with the end in mind.”

Adding technology during the pandemic is just one aspect of preparing for life after COVID-19. Hear what industry leaders say about preparing for life after the crisis in this podcast:

Miriam Hall, DMD, received her dental training at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and was inducted into the Omicron Kappa Upsilon and the Matthew Cryer National Dental Honor Societies in 2008. She furthered her education in the specialty of Orthodontics at the University of Pennsylvania and received her postdoctoral specialty certificate in Orthodontics in 2010. Dr. Hall was honored by being published in the American Journal of Orthodontics. Her publication is entitled “Effects of Rapid Palatal Expansion on the Sagittal and Vertical Dimensions of the Maxilla.” Dr. Hall thrives to stay up-to-date on the latest technology and advancements in orthodontics, and she opened Hall Orthodontics in June of 2020. Outside of the office, Dr. Hall spends her time with her husband, Tom, and four children: Jacob, Mila, Easton, and Renna. She was captain of her women’s soccer team at Lafayette College and enjoys coaching her kids’ soccer teams.  Dr. Hall remains an avid runner and loves to stay active to keep up with her kids and busy schedule. She loves to cook for her family and share the culture in which she was raised. Dr. Hall is an active member in the community and has made it her mission to give back to the community in which she serves.

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