Learn how to better manage your lab prescriptions and digital workflows in this free ebook!

You’ll learn:

  • Identify the most common, costly mistakes in orthodontic practice and how to prevent them.
  • Find real-world insights on how to optimize your workflows.
  • Discover the secrets to reaching maximum clinical efficiency.
  • Get the inside scoop on how to run a full lab at peak performance.
  • See how you can stop dealing with the headaches of paper and shared spreadsheets.
  • Learn the implementations that ensure you never lose a lab slip again.


In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear writes, ‘“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” When it comes to improving your orthodontic practice, your goals might be lofty, but your systems create a level of expectation for everyone across the organization to rise to or fall to.

For better or worse, the technology that you use controls your systems more than your staff does. As technology advances, the systems around them must also advance. You want to improve your practice, your technology, and your system and need a guide to do so, which includes utilizing current research and best practices. This requires a two-step process: knowing the current best practices and then acting on this information.

We often welcome new technology with open arms, but the systems around it are slow to change. Although vital to advancement, change can be hard on many levels. Knowing the best way to manage it is essential to moving forward and deepening improvement. 

The Best Practices of Modern Orthodontic Lab Case Management

When it comes to the best practices of modern orthodontic lab case management, your understanding of the alignment begins the first step of improving the system.

Ensure high quality and leverage technology to help.

When it comes to orthodontics, quality must be your hallmark. Due to the nature of orthodontic labs, you must have a system that checks and double checks the accuracy of every step. This system already exists in every office, but the best practice is to use technology to support that system. From workflow and detail adjustments to devices, technology should help keep quality standards high. For example, the ability for a doctor to edit a prescription and adjust brackets improves quality and turnaround time.

Communication is timely and how the patient prefers it.

Patients have high expectations when it comes to communication. They want to know the timeline of their care and for products to be delivered according to that timeline. No one expects perfection, but the current standard is quite lofty for what is expected when it comes to communication. The consequences of not achieving this best practice can cost your practice if proper systems are not in place. 

Workflows are processed easily and quickly.

Almost every system now builds in redundancies to ensure that goals and deadlines are being met. In a small orthodontic office, one person might be responsible for multiple steps of the workflow.

But what happens when that person is absent?

You have two best practice options in this situation. One is to implement a system—either automated or semi-automated—to improve the workflow. Enabling technology to bridge the gaps between processes creates an easier system to manage during staff absences. This kind of automation has become the standard practice for most clinics, but its integration differs widely in its implementation. 

Cross-training staff is another best practice to circumvent the breakdown of the system when one person is gone. If the “hub of the wheel” of the office is absent, others in the office must step up to help and will want to do so, with the right training.

Systems are integrated with one another and workflows produce more timely results.

“Falling to the level of your systems” means that your workflows only operate as smoothly as the system allows. This can be the most challenging area to improve when seeking the best practices of modern orthodontic lab case management. 

Becoming more lean and efficient might not be on the radar for all staff, so this can be an area to explore with them. Since humans quickly become accustomed to the systems in which we operate, your employees probably do not see the inefficiencies that exist. They may convert files by hand in order to make them compatible with the next system in the workflow, without even thinking about the time that it requires. 

Improving the system becomes easier once these barriers are identified. Automated processes and technology systems will convert these files so staff members don’t have to. That is just one example of the many small tasks that can be streamlined, and small tasks add up over time to slow the entire system.

Technology synergizes the office.

The ultimate best practice for consistently improving workflow is ongoing continuous improvement. Once the technology drivers create improvement, more comes. Steven Covey called this synergy, with staff seeing opportunities for better workflow and putting them into action themselves. 

While it is possible to improve without technology, the pace at which you can do so is slow. As you focus on best practices, you will see that most modern orthodontic offices leverage technology to help their systems—they do not shy away from it.

Implementing the Best Practices of Modern Orthodontic Lab Case Management

Now that you know the best practices to implement, you need to create a plan to make it happen. These strategies have become more universal over the past few years, so delaying this plan might give other orthodontic practices a competitive advantage. Assemble your office team, and begin to put a plan into place.

Find the right partner for integration.

Technology supports every step of system improvement. While it’s not a silver bullet, it is an essential component. You cannot ignore the need for it to help your workflow improve. 

As more technologies came online over the years, you probably pieced together the current system that you have. Integrating these as much as possible helps efficiency across the board. 

Systemizing this integration will require help. You want a trusted partner, like EasyRx, with a track record of success and all the tools to help you improve.

Regardless of whom you choose to partner with, check on the technology that they bring to the table. They should be able to help troubleshoot what you have, what you need, and where they can help. Systems and platforms need to be integrated so they can “speak” with one another to align the workflow. This might require a software upgrade or enhancement to make the most of the current system.

Finally, when it comes to finding the right software partner, check references. This will help ensure credibility and give you a good idea of the type of partnership that you can expect. Improving the system requires a long-term commitment from this partner and from leadership to continue to move the practice forward.

Map a timeline for rollout.

Once you have a partner, they will want to create a timeline with you for rolling out old systems and pushing in new processes. Depending on how aggressive you want to be, this could be anywhere from a few months to a year or two. Your bandwidth for change, the number of staff, and your budget will all drive these decisions. Even if you prefer to start slow, starting is the key. Your competitors also invest in improving their systems, communication, and outcomes, so you don’t want to be left behind.

Change the system incrementally.

No system likes to be disrupted all at once, so steady change over time will be the best approach. This allows for troubleshooting any issues that might arise and for monitoring improvement. You can also check the quality of the changes more easily. Your software partner will help you create a short- and long-range plan. As you update a piece of the system on a consistent schedule, like once a month, you will see steady improvement, which proves the changes are working and synergizes the team to want to upgrade even more.

Work with your staff instead of doing it to your staff.

Going through change can be challenging for anyone. Office managers should not work independently when implementing best practices of modern orthodontic lab case management. Input from staff is critical, and it is crucial to build on success. 

If you think of improvement in terms of doing it with your staff, it changes your mindset. All staff members who are part of the workflow, from patient communication to prescription orders and insurance processing, should contribute to improving the system and finding efficiencies. 

To help bring everyone along to see the success, provide frequent opportunities for feedback to ensure that the improvement is actually happening. Going back to the rollout calendar that you created, plan for periodic meetings when you will gather input from the staff to mark progress.

Gather feedback from patients about improvements and changes.

Finally and most importantly, your patients need to be included in the improvement cycle. Since these are internal workflow improvements, they hopefully won’t notice the upgrades. 

Survey them about the communication and turnaround time of the orders that you are filling. Even if you did not collect this data before making any changes, start now so you can continue to see and show improvement.

As the leader of the office, you can’t be everywhere at once, but you can monitor the bottom line. Having these metrics for patient satisfaction, communication, and staff feedback will enable you to see your rate of return on the investment that you made.

Ultimately, if your lab management functions well, it provides transparency for all involved: the doctor, the patient, the lab, and the office staff. Communication flows in all directions as needed, and the information is clear and accessible for everyone. 


Since you will not rise to the level of your goals, but rather fall to the level of your system, your dedication to improving the system must not waiver. All these best practices of modern orthodontic lab case management will not happen overnight, but they are vital to improving the system for the benefit of the client and of the practice. As you and your team learn about best practices, seek out ideas for improvement, and find the right partner to help, you will see improvement across all metrics.

Here at EasyRx, we help orthodontic practices by giving them the tools that they need for comprehensive case management to streamline their workflows and achieve maximum clinical efficiency.

To see how we can help your practice get away from paper documentation, confusing spreadsheets, and costly workflow errors, contact our specialists today!