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Sep 1

Written by: Cherri Choate, DPM

If you are new to an orthotic lab, or new in practice and prescribing othotics, getting guidance directly from the lab in important. Every orthotic lab has unique prescription forms, production processes and materials. In order to improve your orthotic fabrication success, it would be helpful to dedicate some extra time to your first few prescriptions. Listed below are a few common issues with the "new client/orthotic lab relationship" and some possible solutions:
     1)  Prescription form terminology
               Although many of the same terms are used by all labs, there are terms that seem to be unique to a specific lab or geographical region. If you don't understand a term, either call the lab for clarification, or look on the internet.  Also, if you don't see your personal terminology listed on the form, it would be more prudent to call the lab than to write it down and hope they understand your order.  As an example, a commonly misunderstood term is "metatarsal pad."  The variety of metatarsal pads is enormous, so a quick call to the lab would clarify the size, placement and material of a metatarsal pads used by the specific lab in question.
     2)  Production options
              Within the last 15 years, fewer practitioners are clear on the production process of orthotic fabrication. Many variables, including vacuum-formed vs. direct-milled (CD), medial skive, balancing options, cast fill, etc. would be much clearer if the practitioner was able to visualize the process. Often times labs have orthotic production photos or videos on their web site so practitioners can visualize their options. The other idea is to ask your lab for a tour. If you don't live near your orthotic lab, maybe you can arrange a CME event near the lab, and take a tour of the lab while you are in that location.  Once again, if you are not completely clear what you are ordering, call the lab and ask for an explanation.

My recommendation is that when you start to use a new lab: set aside 2-3 casts, fill out the Rx form, access the lab's web site, and for any lingering questions, call the lab to clarify any questions that you have on the form. This saves a lot of time since your casts will go directly into production once they are received by the lab. Whether you have practiced for 20 years, or 20 days, establishing a relationship with a new lab takes a little time but the end product and patient satisfaction will be well worth your time.  


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