April 3, 2019
by Lou Shuman, DMD, CAGS
The game is changing for live dental meetings. Most companies look for podium time, which helps drive traffic to the exhibit floor, and won’t attend if it is not offered. Practitioners value meetings as a source of CE credits, but the dilemma is that over the years, our accredited organizations have been adamant (sometimes rightly so) that CE credits will not be available if products are discussed during the lecture.
Therein lies the rub. We go to accredited lectures, but exhibitors, who basically fund the meetings, have no ability to create podium time to drive the attendees to witness their products and technologies. Typically, the only option is to pay extra for non-CE podium time, increasing the difficulty of attaining an ROI. If the exhibitor attendance continues to drop, soon meetings will have difficulty managing their significant overhead. In appreciation to this journal and to express personal opinion, I propose a middle ground.
While some of you might remember me as part of the team that brought Invisalign to Canada during my seven-year stint from 2002–2009, today I am integrated into the dental community differently. I am the CEO of Cellerant Consulting Group, where our job is to incubate and accelerate the growth of dental companies (24 of them currently). Our companies run the gamut, from a dentist with a phenomenal idea to a few multi-billion-dollar companies, and we’re proud to help bring amazing technologies to our industry, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, antimicrobial solutions, and digital workflow options. As we look at our clients’ annual marketing strategies and consider the return on investment of exhibiting at dental meetings, the news is becoming grimmer and grimmer.
I believe manufacturers can provide programs of value with true educators. These are not sales presentations — I totally agree those should not be accredited. These programs would provide a scientific and educational focus around why and how these products are created. Utilizing normal procedures, organizations could review company presentations and approve relevant courses to be part of the curricular program.
There is an equilateral triangle that can be completed here: that of the practitioner at one point, CE accreditation at another, and all dental companies represented at the third point. With the significant impact that online CE is creating, it is critical to add properly CE-accredited product and technology podium time as part of the exhibitor package at no charge to the attendees. It will provide significantly more education of what products are available to us that can increase the quality of life of the patients we see. It will drive us to the exhibit hall, provide us a hands-on experience that the internet cannot, and fuel the necessary ROI needs for companies to attend. Most importantly, it would ensure that our meetings remain a foundation of live learning.