Oral Health Group

Does Your H.I. Need an Upgrade?

December 3, 2018
by Shawn Peers, DentalPeers


Many of you may have noticed the recent trend in my blogs where I have been focusing on how technological evolution is impacting dentistry. While I could never be mistaken for a “techie”, the idea of considering how innovation is changing our behaviour is fascinating to me.

While it is easy to get lost in a sense of awe about what technology can do, it is important not to lose sight of what we actually want it to do. No matter how cool it may seem, our goal should be using technology to improve upon human performance. And that does not necessarily mean removing the “human” from the equation.

In fact, combining technology with properly trained, live human beings can achieve better results than technology on its own. A 2016 Harvard/MIT study compared human performance with artificial intelligence to diagnose instances of metatastic breast cancer.

On its own, the machine only achieved an accuracy rate of 92.5% compared to 96.6% for “human intelligence”. But when the two were combined, accuracy improved to 99.5%! Clearly, there were some aspects where the machine simply could not outperform a qualified human!

The key component of that sentence is a qualified human! When looking at where to invest in your office, it is not just technology you have to look at. You should also consider if your office needs an upgrade in its H.I.!

What is H.I.?

Quite simply… Human Intelligence!

This may sound like a harsh question and I am not suggesting you need to replace current team members with new, improved, smarter people. What it means is upgrading their skills so they are better equipped to navigate the evolving world of dental technology while keeping their focus on the human element of dentistry.

No matter how much innovation we bring to the dental world, at its “root” (dental humour!), our profession is about the service we provide to living, breathing, sentient people. It is about working intimately with our patients, usually while they are completely awake. It is about dealing with patients who may be in pain or discomfort… or who are simply nervous about sitting in your chair.

That means we must approach technology with a plan. “Planning” means being aware of what innovation is years away, what is just around the corner before it is ready to hit the market, and what is hot on the market now. When you know what is available and what is coming, you are better able to determine what technologies may not be effective for your office.

Too often, the response of some dental teams to new technology is to hope it never comes “until I retire in 5 years”! Then it will be someone else’s problem!

This kind of reaction does little to improve the H.I. index in your office. It may deny your office an opportunity to innovate and grow under your tutelage. It may also leave your office ill prepared for the evolving future when you do retire!

Improving your office H.I. is not difficult but it does require a commitment. The first step to that commitment is to have a plan that enables you to see what is coming and what you might have to do to maximize the potential benefits for your patients. Upgrading the skills of your team could be a vital component.

So as we head into 2019, make a commitment to improving your H.I.. You, your team and your patients will all benefit from such a plan.