The Full Impact

DSOs and clinicians must work together to ensure new technologies are used to their full potential.

Newer technologies, such as digital radiography and 3D imaging/Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT) have contributed to better, more efficient patient care. And, doctors who are slow to adopt the latest tools risk losing their competitive edge, according to David Vieth, DDS, chief dental officer of Kool Smiles. “By not continually adding new tools and technology in their practices, an organization runs several risks,” he points out. “One such risk is to potentially lose the ability to recruit and retain doctors who have been exposed to newer, cutting-edge tools. Additionally, with media and social media so widespread, consumers are educated and savvy about what’s available in the market, and they expect practices to offer those things, as well as be competitive on pricing, convenience and a high-quality experience.”

Indeed, few consumers would turn down the opportunity to have a crown placed in one visit, rather than making several return visits, notes Vieth. “Simply put, practices that are behind the curve on advancements and new technology stand to lose business,” he says.

The impact of technology
In addition to digital radiography and CBCT, digital scanning technology has also impacted clinicians’ ability to provide better results than ever before. “The use of digital scanning technology can reduce costs, while increasing efficiency and accuracy over traditional impression taking,” Vieth explains. “This scanning process reduces errors by eliminating the impression errors, as well as the model being poured in stone and subsequent handling of the poured models. The result is greater efficiency, speed, cost reduction and a tremendous increase in accuracy.” The quality of care also improves dramatically, he adds. For example, scanning for, say, impressions can be done in fewer steps, reducing the potential for error, he points out.

That said, ensuring that the right technology is incorporated into a multi-site practice and that all clinicians are trained to properly use it requires collaboration on the part of the DSO and the clinicians. On one hand, a large DSO like Kool Smiles, which has more than 100 offices, “has a lot of leverage in terms of procuring the latest technology at more attractive prices and spreading the costs,” says Vieth.  “Because we’re a large group practice, we’re in a position to test-pilot the latest and greatest at an office, or at a few offices, experiment with it, and then make a decision to offer that particular tool or technology at all our offices. Smaller practices might not have the ability to do this. In addition, DSOs tend to have their own IT departments, with expertise and resources to help clinicians evaluate and test new technologies.”

However, the DSO alone doesn’t drive advancements or the latest technology, notes Vieth. “We collaborate with our doctors and clinical leaders to understand and identify what’s best for our dentists and our patients,” he says. “In other words, the DSO isn’t pushing any technology but rather listening to – and partnering with – our doctors on what their needs and the needs of their patients are.

“We work hard to ensure that any implementation is as seamless as possible throughout our offices,” he continues. “We provide all training and ongoing support as needed. Once we implement any new tool or technology, the DSO is there to make sure everything is running smoothly so that our doctors can focus on patient care.”