An emerging phenomenon driven by the impact of technology is set to directly influence the future of dental practice as we know it. The rise of the ‘patsumer’, a new buzzword to describe patients who think and act like consumers, is expected to herald a shift in customer behaviours as they take more control over their own healthcare.
Technological advances are transforming modern dentistry and placing greater power in the hands of patients. Social media and digital apps make it easy to schedule appointments, pay for treatment plans and make decisions through the availability of information about a dental practice, including its performance and reputation.
As new digital innovations become mainstream, ‘patsumers’ will exert more authority over the type of treatments they want and choose their dental care provider based on who can fulfil their expectations and emotional needs. The following trends are just the beginning and will increasingly grow in prominence.
“patsumers will exert more authority over the type of treatments they want and choose their dental care provider based on who can fulfil their expectations and emotional needs.”
By combining oral scanning, computer-aided design (CAD) / computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) and 3D printing technologies, dental practices can rapidly produce accurate crowns, bridges and braces to improve efficiency. In addition to reducing the cost of treatments and providing a quicker return on investment for practice owners, 3D printing ensures dental and orthopaedic services are faster and more accurate.
Teledentistry, which enables patients to receive a virtual dental visit from home via revolutionary IT solutions could be the next biggest industry gamechanger. Taking telephone consulting to a completely different level, it allows hygienists to assess a patient and send data to a dental practitioner via cloud-based software for diagnosis. Teledentistry can offer significant benefits to individuals situated in nursing and residential care settings and others with mobility issues so that no one need miss out on receiving high-quality oral healthcare.
In addition, air abrasion treatments which represent an alternative to drills or injections could help forward-thinking dental practices to attract nervous patients. The helium enhanced micro-abrasion technology enables tooth decay to be removed without any noise, vibration or patient discomfort. While the window of opportunity appears limitless, practice owners face the quandary of how to deliver the treatments and services that customers will demand due to the high level of ongoing investment required.
“Technology is changing the way patients think and act. ‘Patsumers’ are on the rise and dental practices which fail to grasp their needs today are unlikely to be successful in the future.”
Undoubtedly, new innovations can be expensive but ambitious dentists do not have to miss out on accessing the latest technology to steal a march on their competitors. Tailored and flexible finance solutions from specialist lenders include funding for a wide range of dental technology and equipment. As a result, dentists no longer have to dip into vital cash reserves and attempt to purchase new items in one lump sum. In doing so, they can spread the cost (usually over one to five years) to protect essential working capital while maintaining their existing banking lines.
Technology is changing the way patients think and act. ‘Patsumers’ are on the rise and dental practices which fail to grasp their needs today are unlikely to be successful in the future.