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Frith Maier has parlayed her travel adventures in Russia into helping orthodontists communicate online

“Open Sesame,” the orthodontist beckons, angling for a better look at the inner workings of your teeth and jaw so that he can go to work with the most modern tools and chart the progress being made on improving your smile. A similar strategy is being employed by Frith Maier, the co-founder and CEO of Seattle-based Sesame Communications. Under Maier’s initiative, the light of Web services innovation is now shining brightly inside the dark recesses of doctor-patient communications and improving orthodontic and dental outreach, patient education and care.

Since creating Sesame Communications, the five-year-old technology firm formerly known as Pt Interactive (short for Patient Interactive) and its flagship product Ortho Sesame, Frith has convinced hundreds of doctors to open their minds and their practice management systems to the Web. Ms. Maier’s prolific Web communications and database integration team brings to these practices an unprecedented level of patient interactivity, making their operations more efficient and more profitable.

To call Frith Maier an adventurous entrepreneur is something of an understatement. While working for REI in the late 1980’s &1990’s, the friendly, energetic Frith, herself the wife of an orthodontist, ran the recreational equipment company’s adventure travel program inside the former Soviet Union. In those days, Frith would find herself leading a group of climbers to the summits of 7,000-meter peaks in the Pamir mountains. In the course of her spirited adventures, she became friends with Dima Mirkarimov, a Ph.D. candidate working on data mining at an institute in the Russian technology center of Dubna, situated about 2 hours’ drive outside of Moscow in the Russian Federation, and home to many of that country’s technical and scientific professionals.

Realizing their conception of a dedicated online health care communication system that ports data stored in legacy databases to the web, Maier & Mirkarimov enlisted the help and resources of a highly skilled cadre of high-tech comrades in Dubna. Today, no less than half of Sesame’s 34-person operation consists of engineers, developers, programmers and software testers who virtually telecommute from the Russian suburb to Seattle each day.

By employing the Sesame Communications online solution, dentists and orthodontists are able to achieve demonstrably greater productivity and savings. The system answers patients’ appointment, account and insurance questions online. It manages appointment confirmations and other practice communications by automated email. Ortho Sesame has closed the gap on an average of $75,000 in revenue which orthodontists lose every year to missed appointments and handling routine information phone calls.

The Sesame Communications Web services package also offers dental professionals and their patients a host of other things to smile about. Patient x-rays can be called up and viewed right in the Web browser from the comfort of home, as can patient billing records. Payments can be made directly over the Website. Young patients even enjoy the opportunity to color in their teeth on a Web page that resembles a computer game, letting kids try out and select a favorite color for the elastic ties on their braces. Treatment movies are also available in this wholly integrated communications solution.

Sesame Communications has an eye on entering into other medical practice verticals although new market expansion will take time according to Frith. A pacing item will be forging alliances with the leading makers of practice management software in other medical communities that Sesame’s developers and programmers can then integrate. Maier says that looking forward, the key to the company’s success will be based on combining their winning technology with old-fashioned, exceptional service. A key strategy at Sesame Communications is to be number one in member service. “We continue to meet our objective of leading the industry with technology and have set our sights on raising the service bar throughout the industry,” Frith exclaims.

To that end, Maier says the company has launched an aggressive member incentive program to help offices realize the full potential of their online system and has offered an industry-first—its 98% Patient Satisfaction Guarantee™. Maier added, “Given our track record and strong desire to ensure success for our members and their patients, we could probably have offered 99%, but we decided to leave a little margin for improvement.” This type of focus and dedication is probably why so much of Sesame Communications’ business comes from doctors referring the system to their colleagues.

The future of this ambitious firm looks bright so long as they continue to put their Web talents where their mouth is (and ours as well. [24×7]


Frith Maier of Sesame Communications has opened up opportunities for dental and orthodontic practices to interact with their patients, and the public, via the Web.