Orthotic returns and remakes are something no one likes to deal with. As doctors, it can be frustrating and time-consuming when the orthotics you order don't meet your expectations. Multiple returns will also have a negative impact on patient trust because they receive orthotics that fail to address their specific needs.
To minimize the number of returned orthotics, it's important to do a few things during the prescribing and ordering process. Our Lab Manager, Tracy Winchester gives the following advice to help keep your orthotic return rate low and customer satisfaction high:
Choose the Correct Shell Rigidity
The rigidity of the shell is something that really influences the patient’s comfort and willingness to wear the orthotic. The weight of the patient and size of their feet are important factors to consider.
Heavier patients will need more rigid shells for better control in a functional device whereas lighter patients can use more flexible rigidities and still be functional.
Keep in mind that rigidity is affected by the orthotic length; longer orthotics will will feel more flexible. With an Accommodative device, orthotics will feel more rigid and controlling for patients with shorter feet while patients with larger/longer feet can tolerate more rigid devices.
Example: For a 130 lb. woman wearing a shoe size 6. A semi-flexible orthotic is going to feel accommodative, whereas the semi-rigid would feel more like a functional type device. A 130 lb. woman with a shoe size 12 will need a rigid or ultra-rigid orthotic for functional control.
Make Each Order Unique to the Patient
With custom orthotics, there's no universal solution to guarantee success. It can be easy to fall into the habit of prescribing the same orthotic template for all your patients. However, this can lead to patient discomfort and result in more returns.
Instead of always using the same orthotic settings, adjust the orders for each patient based on their diagnosis and their needs. Every layer of a custom orthotic can be changed. I.e. - Don’t add a metatarsal pad, rigid shell and deep heel cup to every single order if the patient doesn't need it.
Don’t Add Too Many Accommodations
Starting with a simple and focused approach can yield better results than attempting to address every possible issue right from the beginning. Adding too many modifications or features to the orthotic can complicate the patient’s break-in period.
By addressing the primary concern and offloading specific areas, we can avoid overwhelming the patient and better understand which adjustments are truly helpful and necessary. Dr. Don Pelto supports this saying:
Less Orthotic Returns = Happier Patients
In summary, adopting a patient-centered approach to orthotics leads to better outcomes. By taking a conservative approach focusing on the primary concern, you’ll identify the most effective solutions. This approach not only enhances patient comfort but also builds their confidence and trust in the orthotic process.
Remember, it's better to take measured steps towards success rather than swinging for the fences right from the beginning. Doing these 3 simple things will help lower your orthotic return rates and help you spend less time waiting for your custom orthotics.