The Piper at the Gates of Dawn

Cogito ergo sumRene Descartes

To a greater or lesser degree, I opt not to editorialize in these blog entries. I see this volunteer effort as a mechanism for the creation of a NEXUS, whereby, the push technology of over a decade of Internet interest brings, in addition to hundreds of pharmaceutical providers commenting on my virility, the opportunity to share them with the two or three of you who read this material, the vastness of the resources in dentistry on display from blogs and websites as they exponentiate daily. While the majority of them are product placement, equipment launches, or notifications based upon disclosed or undisclosed fiduciary arrangements with the manufacturer(s) referenced, they do offer a panorama of the changes in the dental armamentarium. What they do drive home with a piston-like efficiency is the fact that dentistry is a big, big business, growing bigger and more pervasive all the time. What these companies have not done is truly pioneer the inclusion of SOCIAL NETWORKING into the fabric of dental practice.

On April 1-2,2011 at the Grand Hyatt Tampa, the Academy of Comprehensive Esthetics, which also has an endodontic division, will present the Tampa
2011 Conference on Social Media & Marketing for Dentistry!
Understand and Use Social Media to Your Practice’s Advantage.  In a world where the launch of the iPad 2 is exquisitely timed to decimate the launch of the Motorola Xoom, dentists and the companies that provide their equipment and disposables are still fumbling about in the darkness of the Middle Ages of fulfillment and failing to advocate how the unceasing digital state of the world can be applied to the practice and education of dentistry.  Whether this particular conference will offer the catalyst for redress is an unknown, but one can certainly hope that the early adapters of change will become the front runners as these global mainstream trends are allowed invest our dear profession with their foundational value.

What is not recognized is that once someone becomes part of “community”, they can be fed content whereever they are located, should they wish.  As mobile platforms abound, the likelihood is that tablet computers will be as inclusive as computer terminals in-treatment rooms. Companies know where their customers are for example when they order product, but we are not always locked in an “8 x 12 four bit room”.  We are at conferences and conventions and the world today is replete with GEOLOCATORS and software technology is such that you could be recognized as being at the ACE meeting in Tampa by your community, inclusive of vendors and it could be arranged for you to meet literally anyone from the community who by virtue of their position, training and experience, could reframe the experience of the session.

It’s not a new concept, it’s CONCIERGE involvement, preparatory information prior to the event, being guided through the session with a “coach” and upon departure, access to a continual stream of educational material to further the experience. The concept is well delineated in Hotel California albeit demonically, “you can check out but you can never leave”; the difference being in the digital world, that you have a delete key.


René Descartes, the French philosopher, by the...

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tal offices are “branding” themselves today with logos and vision statements. In the 80’s when I was on committees at the Ontario Dental Association, you were as likely to be excoriated for doing this as to be challenged by the dentist kitty corner to you for having your signage use larger than 4 inch lettering.  All businesses brand today; purchasing a product used to be about building relationships, provided the representative remained with the company for more than a half a dozen nano-seconds.

Thus the EXPERIENCE of purchase needs to be potentiated so that what is provided by a revolving door of sales representatives in most companies is replaced by familiarity with the brand, it’s digital means of communication, education and sales…..the social networking of the companies must begin to associate community with experience, experience with the recognition that what you are being sold is perceived of being of specific value to you and the style of your practice and that you are aware that there will be a continuum of this kind of service.  I have no time to receive four colour glossy brochures on product launches about the “latest and greatest product iteration launch, if the monograph is testimonials with no evidence based science to validate the claims. Dentistry has not missed the mark re; using “iconic” recognition in sales. Much like fashion, you know who speaks or attends launch parties on behalf of whom. With fashion, you simply need to know how to do up a button or close a zipper, provided you have a personal assistant on 24/7 beck and call. Why is dentistry any different? The cost of a laser for example is not that different than a Berkin bag or a Roger Dubuis watch.

I can’t speak for many, but I have to imagine that with the economy being somewhat unsettled and in a portion of the hemisphere where health care is perceived of as a privilege not a right by our major trading partner (at the moment), that wandering the canyons and corridors of exhibit halls has become analogous to the souks and bazaars of the Middle East, or in the case of the Chicago meeting, the Middle West.  Personally, I’d rather sit with my iPhone or iPad and “swipe” my way through a montage of photos, or a slide show of case reports or watch a streaming technical presentation, than feel that any moment, I was about to be convinced that if I bought this or that item now, not only would the savings be substantial, but the fact that they didn’t have a specific depot in Canada or a major distributor or service centre – “would not present a problem, or they didn’t think it would”.

The blogosphere now abounds with pundits, Facebook icons are dotting the landscape of most newly designed dental websites, and Adobe Connect and GotoMeeting are soon to be replaced by live streaming audio and video simulcasts, simply because virtual and real time perception and viewing must become one and the same.  We are equally as likely to be taught by someone from Bucharest as Santa Barbara, and as is increasingly apparent in the world of fashion and electronics, giants stumble; Gulliver’s travels was after a social commentary and little people with ropes strategically placed, brought down the outsized perceived oppressor. We are a profession, not a country in revolt, but six degrees of separation and proportionality and all that – nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

To the vendors who may read this and suggest that I am “off my meds”, I urge you to rethink that relationships are after all, often about “accomodation”, the simplicity and elegance of balance, the one size fits all approach to their structure needs far greater variability that at any time in the past.

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