Will that amazing high-tech gizmo pay for itself or is it just a pricey toy?

Jan. 1, 2011
When evaluating high tech for the dental office, there are three things to consider before making a big purchase.

Larry Emmott, DDS

For more on this topic, go to www.dentaleconomics.com and search using the following key words: dental technology, return on investment, high tech, CAD/CAM, Dr. Larry Emmott.

When evaluating high tech for the dental office, there are three things to consider before making a big purchase.

  1. Does this technology system enhance the human system? That is to say, does it make the job easier and faster or even just more rewarding for the dentist, staff, or patients?
  2. Does this technology system improve the overall quality of patient care?
  3. Will this technology pay for itself? Is there a reasonable ROI?

The final question is often the most difficult to determine. This article is the first in a series that will evaluate the ROI on three high-tech products and services in use in actual offices over the next six months.

This month, we will introduce the three technologies, and then in the following months we will look at how they are working in dental offices and if they are paying for themselves. Each product is relatively new and represents a distinct area of evolving technology. They all use the Internet in new and creative ways.


CEREC itself is not a new product, but it is being used in a new and exciting fashion. AC stands for acquisition center; CEREC AC is not a full CAD/CAM unit but uses the CEREC CAD/CAM technology to acquire digital impressions that can then be sent to the lab via the Internet.

CEREC AC eliminates the impression goo, trays, re-takes, stone models, and shipping. The unit is available from Patterson and sells for $24,995 (www.cereconline.com).


Cubex is a high-tech solution to a problem most dentists have but choose to ignore, because they don’t know what to do about it. It is an inventory management system that consists of a digitized cabinet and an Internet service that manages your inventory and actually places orders for you before you run too low on anything.

Cubex reduces excess inventory and staff time spent on ordering. The system is available from Henry Schein Dental. A basic unit sells for $12,970, plus a monthly fee for the online management software (www.cubexsystem.com).

Practice Activator

Practice Activator is not a product; it’s strictly an e-service that is managed entirely online. It uses sophisticated data mining techniques to discover noncompliant patients who have missed a recall or failed to follow through with treatment. It then contacts and reactivates these patients.

Once it is set up, the service requires no staff time to administer. It increases revenue by motivating people to have needed care. It is sold directly by the developer Action Run for an average monthly service fee of $600; however, the fee is not fixed but can be adjusted to each practice (www.practiceactivator.com).

The future is coming and it will be expensive or will it? Will these high-tech systems pay off? In the next few months, we will find out. Then we will know the future is coming and it will be amazing!

Dr. Larry Emmott is the leading authority on dental high tech, and one of the most entertaining speakers in dentistry. He is also a writer and consultant. To find out about his high-tech training programs, technology guides, and other services, call (602) 791-7071 or visit www.drlarryemmott.com.

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