It just keeps getting better

The technological advances in this industry just keep improving the way clinicians practice, and the panelists from Saturday morning’s “Shaping the Future of Dentistry: 21st Century and Beyond” expect that trend to continue.

But even with all the high-tech equipment and materials, dentistry still faces a host of challenges moving forward. Dr. Fred Eichmiller outlined a few, including determining how to create value for oral health, providing evidence-based solutions, adapting to changes in manpower and integrating technology.

“You have to understand, in the healthcare arena we’re an other,” Dr. Eichmiller said about the importance of creating value. “That’s really not a comfortable place to be.”

Dr. Ronald Goldstein continued the technology-focused conversation with a look into the future. He predicts that by 2020 and beyond, communication and information availability will change drastically, while the office will have a more comfortable look and feel. Color adapted walls and scents will be a large part of that.

Imaging, specialty consultants, treatment plans, and holographic education are among areas that will just continue to improve, Dr. Goldstein said.

“It’s just going to get better,” he said. “My problem is I worry about the manufacturers who develop the technology. We want them to develop the technology, but we have to support them.”

Dr. Steven Jefferies focused on where these innovations come from and outlined two business models—Manufacturer Centered and Lead User. Manufacturer Centered is the traditional model, but that seems to be shifting to the Lead User. These are the forward thinkers and consumers who benefit from finding a solution to a problem.

“What does this mean for dentistry?,” Dr. Jefferies asked. “If you look at the major innovations in recent years, you’ll find that many of them were developed as lead users.”

Dr. Jefferies described DPRWorld08 as an example of a Lead User event.

Dr. John Sorensen closed out the panel portion of the discussion with insight about the role technology plays in the prosthodontic specialty. Cone Beam CT radiography and optical impression technology are among the technologies improving the field.

“Wow, what an incredible time to practice dentistry, with the rate of new material introductions and product advancements,” he said.

Dr. Alan Boghosian served as the moderator along with Dr. Joel Berg, and both lead the question and answer session. The audience’s questions lead to a discussion about insurance companies and the access to care issue.

Dr. Goldstein relayed conversation he had with a dentist who only places crowns because that’s what insurance will cover.

“I got disgusted and walked away from him,” he said. “That is what insurance is doing. We have a problem out there if we’re still influenced by insurance. It’s harmful.”

~ by cwaring on May 17, 2008.

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