Th 127079

The Power of Technology

June 1, 2003
Technology can be an asset — or a liability. The key is to create systems that support the value of your investment.

by Dr. Mark Morin

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Considering today's economic constraints, people are prone to buy what they value. And for the most part, people do not value what they can't understand. This being said, I believe that to clearly demonstrate the value offered to their patients, clinicians as well as their staffs must learn how to explain the benefits of their services.

With the advent of new technologies such as in-office whitening systems, intraoral cameras, and various restorative systems, patients are now coming to the dental office requesting services that are predominantly elective in nature. If these technologies are used to their fullest potential, practices will see an increase in their annual production. According to statistical models developed by the Levin Group, higher-level crown procedures increase gross production $60,000 to $80,000, while high-end composite dentistry can bring an $80,000 to $100,000 gross production increase. In my practice, I have learned how to maximize the potential in everything — from technology to staff. I believe that the more value you create for patients, the easier it is to overcome obstacles such as price and fear.

Mastering value

Too often, while traveling around the country I hear, "I just purchased this cutting-edge piece of equipment for my practice, but how do I turn it into profit for my business?" It may be a great piece of equipment, but you need the systems in place to support and fully leverage the technology.

For the past 13 years, I have incorporated various technologies into my practice to build its value and help separate myself from my competitors. One such tool that has been vital in adding value is the integration of an in-house CAD/CAM system, the CEREC 3. In the blue-collar town of Southfield, Mich., where most of my patients have dental insurance and work for a variety of automobile companies, this CAD/CAM system was a vital tool in showing my patients why amalgams and composites are a thing of the past; it also demonstrated the value in the newest technology in restorative dentistry.

I believe value overcomes all cost objections. Therefore, my team and I had to become the masters of value. We are now able to show patients why a CEREC restoration is the most conservative and longest- lasting restoration they can buy.

This communication is made especially easy with CEREC's latest operating system, CEREC 3D. This advancement creates a more intuitive platform to explain high-tech procedures to my patients while conveying a higher value in restorative dentistry.

If you have the technology and products in place to create value, and you take full advantage of the pre-existing tools in your practice, then price will not be an obstacle. The key is to understand that although technology may accelerate this change, creating systems to support the value within your team and your office is up to you. When I purchased my CAD/CAM system, I quickly went to work to find out how I could get the most out of the technology in a way that would better benefit my office as well as my patients.

Learn to earn

It is safe to say that new technology has enhanced the level and quality of service to our patients and changed the way most of us practice dentistry. The reasons for incorporating new technology are many and will vary from dentist to dentist.

A decade ago, training systems for any piece of cutting-edge technology were vastly different than today's standards. However, the pathway to success has not changed. First and foremost, you must purchase the technology to get started. Then you will want to take the initial training that the manufacturer or distributor customarily provides. Although most dentists think this is a sufficient amount of learning for a new technology, I challenge you to take it to the next level and reap its good fortune.

My good friend Dr. Bill Hall says, "The more you learn, the more you earn." Continue taking advanced courses concerning your new office technology until you master it. Your increased knowledge will allow you to transfer the full value of this technology to both your patients and your business. This is when dentists have a decision to make; we can begin using the technology as we see fit in our practices, or we can focus on increasing our productivity. Ultimately, as clinicians and business owners, we want to make this technology work for us financially, increasing our net — not our overhead.

Dentists who choose to take this path will realize that working on their practices, not in their practices, results in progressing from good to great.

Conclusion

Meeting the needs of our patients is vital. In today's society, their needs are becoming more and more apparent. Patients are more informed, better educated, and are more aware of their healthcare options. They are demanding aesthetic restorative dentistry quickly, in one visit, and are willing to pay for it if they believe it has value. We live in a fast-paced, time-starved society. People today are building lifestyles that are centered on both health and longevity. Can we as a profession create technology that can meet the demands of our society, and can you as a dentist deliver the service the patient wants?

The bottom line is, "What type of dentistry do you want to practice in the new millennium and do you have the technology and the systems in place to do so?"

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