Going digital is a big decision for both dental labs and dental clinics. Think time, cost, resources spent investigating, setting up the technology, running and training the staff. Historically, we’ve seen that labs tend to go digital first. Their network clinics follow suit when it makes sense to have more streamlined workflows.
A major change has been seen in dental clinics worldwide in the year 2020. I am referring to the COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent effect it has had on dental clinics. During the first lockdown in early 2020, we saw dental clinics closing around the world, which saw a decline in cases for dental labs as well.
But as clinics started reopening and getting patients in again, there was an increase in the number of IOS scans. Why? Because clinics found that IOS scans are better from a health perspective along with also seeing the other benefits of digital dentistry. With a major switch in clinics, labs are now running at full speed even more than before the pandemic.
But the question of which technology and digital product is a big one and perhaps the most important one in the lab-clinic partnership. Not to mention the subsequent time, cost and resources spent in choosing the best digital products, getting the technology setup, and running, as well as training the staff.
So here I present to you two scenarios where the labs can work with the clinics in making the switch to digital dentistry.
In a scenario where the dental lab has already invested in digital scanners and software for their workflows, and a clinic in their network is considering switching to intraoral scanning, the labs can play a significant role as technical advisors to help the clinics. Some of the areas that the lab technicians can influence clinics are:
In this case, the question is if and how the lab and the clinic can hold hands and venture into digital dentistry at the same time. Here the considerations are slightly different:
All-in-all it only makes sense for labs and clinics to work closely when either party are looking to switch to digital dentistry. If I could highlight one thing that labs should spend a little more time on, then it would be in tailoring their order forms towards the clinic in the digital workflow. Options are available for labs to customize the digital order forms on the clinic side so that the lab’s offerings are reflected more accurately, thereby making the need to modify incoming orders lesser.
It is not an easy task but the time spent on it can be worth the while as many labs spend a significant time on adjusting incoming orders because the digital order form is inadequately filled out. Customizing can also be applied to not just one clinic, but to all collaborating clinics making the impact even bigger.
Additionally, staying up to date with new ways of designing, manufacturing, scanning, and collaborating in dentistry is key. It is a fast-moving industry where latest editions and improvements are a constant. It is good to keep an eye out on these as there might be something that can make positive impact on your daily work in the lab.