Dentists are Struggling to Keep Up with Patient Expectations

As technology changes and becomes a bigger part of our everyday lives, you must prepare for your patients’ expectations of a dental office to be tech-heavy. While they may not fully understand the benefits of the upgraded technology, they will know that the possibility of new and upgraded services exist, and will expect them during their check-ups, treatment plans and procedures.

In fact, 55.2 per cent of Canadian dentists* agree patient expectations of dental technology are too high. Now, are they too high for what’s reasonable, realistic or somewhere in between? Patients are becoming savvy, realizing the benefits of intraoral scanners, lasers, practice management software and every other piece of equipment you’re are trying to stay on top of. Again, patients may not know what these pieces of equipment do or how they work, but they are aware that it is an asset to their treatment.

It’s not that you’re not trying, right? Well, maybe the efforts to keep up with technology (and in turn impress new and old patients) aren’t actually there. The importance of having up-to-date equipment in a practice ranks six out of nine for Canadian dentists. Of course, things like staffing, and appointment management take the lead, but there needs to be room for improving a practice and its services as well. So why does updated equipment rank so low?

It’s complicated. It’s time consuming. It’s expensive. While these are valid concerns, and over a quarter of Canadian dentists agree that it’s a daily challenge to keep up, the time has come to shift that thinking. Patients aren’t waiting for their regular practice to upgrade, so they’ll find one that already has. The Internet, social media and online testimonials have made it too easy for patients to share their experiences, research new technology and understand their options – before ever stepping foot in a practice.

Don’t be naïve: 17.4 per cent of dentists are unaware of what their competitors charge, so why would they know their offered services? Search online, visit their websites and understand what you’re up against. You may be the top practice in your area, but it doesn’t hurt to check out the competition.

The quick solution: Don’t do anything. Do what you’ve been doing and trust your patients to be loyal to your practice, services provided and staff.

The smart solution: Research, invest and commit. Research the digital options that are available and what your competitors are offering. Invest your time by planning and figuring out what makes the most sense for your investment. Commit to making your practice a better version of itself.

Remember: Technology is changing every day. These decisions can’t wait years – it’ll be out-of-date sooner than you think.

This isn’t to say you should implement and invest in 3D printers, in-office milling, CAD/CAM devices, intraoral scanners and lab facilities all at once (although these are the most desired pieces of digital dentistry to add to a practice). It’s about coming to the realization that these will eventually be expected within the industry.

Think about your practice, staff and patients. What makes sense for your practice and what is worth the investment? 80.3 per cent of dentists desire a 3D printer, but only 10.2 plan on purchasing one as their next piece of equipment. Consider the market, for this could ultimately benefit your practice in the digital world.


Let us know: What piece of technology do you want to implement into your practice?


*Between February and March 2018, RKI, a third party independent research house, conducted a 10-minute online survey of active, practicing non-hospital affiliated dentists and dental specialists on behalf of Oral Health. Using Oral Health’s subscription list, a total of 398 dentists participated in the study (with 219 completing the survey to the end). Assuming a total of 20,000 dentists in Canada (and 398 total completes) the margin of error for the survey is +/- 4.86, 95% CI.

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