May 12, 2021
by Avni Parekh, Dental Whale
More than a year into the global spread of COVID-19, the pandemic continues to affect businesses across the globe. With the first quarter of 2021 now behind us, there’s still very little information available about the pandemic’s effects during that time period as it relates to dentistry. However, a few recent publications are already beginning to unveil a continued grim impact on the industry. On the plus side, they also note an optimistic perspective for those who pivoted toward innovation.
One of the major shifts that dental practices and other clinical-focused businesses have had to do is transition to other modes of efficiencies, such as teledentistry instead of in-person consultations. In fact, a survey conducted in August 2020 by DentaQuest Partnership found that 75% of dental providers leveraging teledentistry anticipated their volume of virtual visits to stay the same or increase over the coming year.
While digital consultations have helped dentists continue to see patients, they are not the only solution that’s made the business of dentistry more efficient. The truth is that many forward-thinking dentists have been able to pull themselves out of the pandemic slump by employing the use of revolutionary technology — artificial intelligence (AI) — to improve their bottom line.
The future of dentistry has its roots ingrained in AI. Characterized as a far-reaching division of computer science focused on building and configuring intuitive machines, AI functions as a substitution for executing tasks normally requiring human intelligence. Making significant strides in the world of dental, artificial intelligence has created clinical efficiencies, and spearheaded administrative and systemic advances.
With reliable and intuitive systems in place, dentists and staff have been able to mitigate many of the challenges caused by the pandemic. They have become more efficient with scheduling, are spending less money on non-essential needs, and are focusing more on pressing tasks. This includes retaining their current client base, acquiring new patients, and enhancing the patient experience.
In addition, some applications combine both machine learning and deep learning. Using a sequence of algorithms to analyze data while incorporating human-like capabilities, these applications are able to eliminate the chances of human error occurring. Ultimately, all applications strive to make business better by upgrading patient care and streamlining time-consuming processes.
The easiest way dentists have been able to capitalize on this technological advancement is through AI-powered software. Currently, its main features include business management, call analysis, virtual assistants, and location targeting. Dentists who are using these machine-learning tools are able to generate accurate data to improve operations, become more productive, and skyrocket production.
For instance, AI-powered software that simplify business processes can seamlessly communicate with patients, generate reminders, book appointments, assess their online reputation and streamline more reviews, as well as gauge the ROI of their marketing spend. They can also integrate location targeting into your current PMS. What this does is acquire essential patient data to help dentists refine their target audience and attract the right patients to your practice. Another benefit of AI-powered software is that it facilitates the automation of practice acquisition and the retention of its existing patient base.
Moreover, dentists who are leveraging AI-powered call analysis have been able to evaluate the inefficiencies with their call conversion rates and rectify the problem. They are acquiring vital data about call intent and learning how to use it to their benefit. Not only that, but some AI-powered call analysis applications are able to estimate the production value of each missed call. Forward-thinking dentists who have caught onto this are riding the wave into the future of dentistry at the most pivotal point of their career.
Additionally, when it comes to AI virtual assistants, they are not to be mistaken for an actual person who assists you and your practice through virtual means. In fact, AI virtual assistants are HIPAA-compliant chatbot applications that you can integrate into your dental practice website. They have the ability to communicate with patients and determine how to best handle their needs, as well as pinpoint patients that require immediate assistance.
Clinical dentistry has also benefited from artificial intelligence, and business-savvy dentists who have been able to accrue a decent amount of working capital have been able to profit on this technology.
One of the neatest breakthroughs in clinical dentistry is the use of artificial intelligence in radiological imaging. Digital radiographs can be calculated using the algorithms through input layers, hidden layers, and output layers to detect caries or periapical lesions. To add to that, they aid in early detection of oral decay and reduce the chances of misdiagnosis with a high degree of accuracy.
The other goes hand and hand — SMART tooth implants and toothbrushes. Self-Monitoring Analytics and Reporting Technology (SMART) helps dentists acquire intrinsic information about a patient’s oral health through the use of meticulous data accumulation and analysis. While SMART technology applies both to clinical and administrative dentistry, in the case of SMART tooth implants and toothbrushes, the technology is used to better serve patients and pinpoint dental and oral-health problems.
In addition to that, a game-changing technology – 3D printers – now pairs the device with artificial intelligence, which are capable of replicating a wide variety of dental parts used for restorative treatments. This emerging and breakthrough technology helps dentists turn digital scans into printable models, as well as indications and contraindications for dental implants. Best of all, it is constantly evolving.
There’s no doubt that AI technology is shaping the dental industry. What’s more, it’s impacting the industry in such monumental ways that will ultimately change the landscape of dental for years to come. During these challenging times, it’s essential to assess, rethink, and revise your approach to business, especially if your dental practice has taken a big hit financially.
One effect of this pandemic is certain, those businesses that aren’t able to quickly adapt to a changing economy won’t have the ability to keep their doors open for long. In order to get your dental practice out of the slump caused by COVID-19, it’s imperative to think out of the box.
As a matter of fact, the future of dental is taking shape now. Many of the dental practices across the nation that are profiting during this time of crisis have utilized AI-based software and equipment to facilitate a flowing stream of revenue. They’re making more in profits than ever imagined. This adaptation to the changing of difficult times is, in fact, the new normal.
If you’re a conservative-minded dentist, then it’s time to begin thinking about where you want your business to be in the next five years and if your practice can sustain itself as is. Now, if reading this article has ignited the will to learn more about the technology of the future — artificial intelligence — then it’s time to explore the options available to you and begin integrating them into your business model.
About the Author
Avni Parekh is an accomplished author and senior writer at Dental Whale, the nation’s leading provider of dental solutions and education. She’s worked in the healthcare arena since 2011, first specializing in writing for end-of-life care and now, the dental industry. To read more of her thought-provoking insights regarding business strategies for practice growth, visit https://defining.dentalwhale.com/.