Recent events have had a transformative impact on nearly every facet of dentistry, but perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than the patient experience. David R. Rice, DDS, founder of igniteDDS, calls the trends we’re seeing now “an amplification of what we’ve always known.” That is, when it comes to their time at a dental appointment, patients prioritize two concerns above all others: safety and convenience.
Dental practices have always worked to maintain a safe, infection-free environment. However, because of the conditions created by COVID-19 – social distancing, an uptick in financial insecurity, limited time and added responsibilities – convenience is more important than ever. Couple these sentiments with the increasingly competitive nature of dentistry and it becomes clear that dentists must take steps to provide an unprecedented level of convenience if they want to remain viable.
Historically, the focus for many practices has been placed exclusively on delivering quality care, not the business side and the patient experience. But there’s no better time than the present to take a “systems-driven” approach to improve practice efficiency and patient convenience. Rice expects these changes will give practices long-term advantages: “Savvy practices will never fully go back to how things were before. They will carry the lessons we’re learning now forward.”
Dental practices can take several steps to shift the patient experience toward a more convenient model, but one proven method is deploying the latest tools and technologies to offer more services in fewer appointments.
Achieve single-visit dentistry with CAD/CAM technology
Same-day dentistry takes treatment that might have taken days, weeks or even months to complete and boils it down to a single appointment. CAD/CAM is noted for its strong, esthetic restorative results, but the business side of the equation enables dental teams to deliver care efficiently and at a lower cost. Both pluses for the patient as well as the practice. In Dr. Rice’s experience, “given the option, the majority of patients today would rather stay and have a treatment done in one visit than come back at a later date.” As a result, he advocates integrating systems like CAD/CAM into practice because they provide patients the single-visit option along with a broader diversity of services.
Jenny Apekian, DDS, of Midtown Dental in Sacramento, Calif., echoes these sentiments, explaining that by using CAD/CAM for same-day restorations in her practice, “we’re doing multiple treatments in a two-hour appointment. While the patient is waiting for their crown to get made, I went ahead and did four other fillings.” Her office has seen cost and time savings, as single visits require less prep, materials and team resources. “There are so many things that patients value out of that single-visit appointment that I think it’s going to set an expectation,” Apekian says. “It’s not there yet because I don’t think that there are enough dentists offering the option. But once they’ve experienced it, patients are going to ask for it by name.”
Increase case acceptance and productivity with 2D and 3D digital imaging
Melika Kashkouli, DMD, uses the Dentsply Sirona Axeos 3D/2D imaging system as part of her in-house diagnostic planning for sleep apnea. But before she invested in the CBCT unit, Dr. Kashkouli had to refer patients out for CT scans. “Due to the inconvenience, some patients were not compliant in getting the CT scan done. That’s when I decided to finally invest in a CBCT unit. After doing our due diligence, we decided to go with Axeos because of its speed, large field of view, quality of images and the fact that it integrates with our CAD/CAM unit. Although we are still new to it, we have been very successful,” Dr. Kashkouli says.
With 2D and 3D digital imaging, you can discover more time in your day while 3D cone beam imaging allows you to see more than ever, allowing for long-term diagnoses. “It’s just mind blowing for the patients that in 2 to 3 minutes, you can have an image and dig deep beyond the surface into the structures that could be contributing to the problem,” said Dr. Kashkouli.
Maximize practice productivity with the Solea all-tissue dental laser
As we wrote earlier this year, the Solea all-tissue dental laser opens up a new level of productivity for dental practices. From workflow to scheduling, the Solea laser helps dental practices achieve more each day—up to five more procedures in a typical day.
For example, take one cavity prep and add up the time needed to calm the patient, administer anesthesia and then wait for the patient to numb. Some doctors bounce from operatory to operatory during this wait time to increase productivity as much as they can. Procedures with the Solea laser are anesthesia-free so doctors can get right to work adding efficiencies to the workflow.
As more dental practices employ digital workflows to improve productivity and enhance the patient experience, more patients will come to expect offices to be equipped with the latest technologies. By investing in the latest in CAD/CAM, CBCT and dental laser technologies, dental practices will be well poised for success for years to come.
If you’re ready to build a more convenient patient experience through the latest dental technology, now is the time to start a conversation with your Patterson rep. Visit pattersondental.com to learn more.
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Editor’s note: Images included in the original blog post were updated in January 2022 to reflect current portfolio.