The Canadian Dental Hygienists Association (CDHA) is pleased to announce the installation of its new president, Wendy Stewart, at its virtual annual general meeting on Saturday, October 16. Stewart is from Nova Scotia and joins president-elect Anne Marie Caissie (New Brunswick), past president Tiffany Ludwicki (Newfoundland and Labrador), and directors Rae McFarlane (British Columbia), Alexandra Sheppard (Alberta), Kaylen Anholt (Saskatchewan), Kathy Yerex (Manitoba), Jennifer Turner (Ontario), Francine Trudeau (Quebec), Lana Clow (Prince Edward Island), and Donna Lee (North) on CDHA’s board of directors for 2021‒2022.
Stewart graduated from Dalhousie University’s School of Dental Hygiene in 2001. For 18 years she has been working at Fall River Dental where she enjoys contributing to the community’s overall health by caring for her clients’ oral health. She also works as an instructor in the Dalhousie University School of Dental Hygiene, taking responsibility for second-year dental hygiene students at an outreach pediatric clinic located in an underserved area of her city.
As president of CDHA, Wendy looks forward to continuing her advocacy efforts with other healthcare professionals, the public, and policy makers, highlighting the essential nature of dental hygiene care, and the relationship between oral health and overall health.
“We now know that there are connections between poor oral health and chronic diseases and conditions, such as diabetes and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, so we must shift our focus to prevention from intervention,” Stewart said in a statement. She also hopes to be able to meet with other members of the dental hygiene community to discuss their visions for the future of the profession.
CDHA is the collective national voice of more than 30,200 dental hygienists in Canada, directly representing 21,000 individual members, including students. Since 1963, CDHA has worked to advance the profession and promote the importance of oral health. Dental hygiene is the sixth largest regulated health profession in Canada with professionals working in a variety of settings, including independent dental hygiene practice, with people of all ages, addressing issues related to oral health. For more information on oral health, visit: www.dentalhygienecanada.ca.
With two campuses, 17 divisions, and over 500 students in a typical year, the University of Maryland School of Dentistry is a busy place. So busy that on most days it generates more than 500 patient-related electronic documents needing faculty approval.
Approvals are for both prescriptions and treatment plans, and faculty swipe their ID badges to record approval of student recommendations. That approval system is the main reason Eugene Khazanov, assistant director of systems administration and support services, and Galina Arbitman, IT application integration engineer, are pleased about their recent implementation of signature pads at both school’s campuses.
Until about a year and a half ago, the school was exclusively using a competitor’s signature pads for patient registration and chairside approvals. The devices worked well with the school’s AxiUm EHR but did require a special utility to be recognized, an additional task that occasionally involved a security upgrade.
More importantly, the existing pads used chairside had to be used with a separate magnetic swiping device. Juggling a computer, signature pad, and magstripe reader every time a student needed faculty approval and patient consent was unwieldy, to say the least.
Not surprisingly, the new signature pads are more economical than purchasing separate devices, according to Khazanov. The costs of the devices now used at the school’s front desks are lower than the previous devices, too, generating an overall savings of just under $10k. The signature pads are also completely plug-and-play, reducing deployment time because no driver or other software download is necessary.
Delta Dental Plans Association (DDPA) announces that Michael Schwartz joined the Association as its Chief Strategic Collaboration Officer on Monday, September 20, 2021.In this position, Schwartz will play a key role in elevating Delta Dental’s national visibility by reinforcing existing relationships and establishing new strategic partnerships with leading national organizations that are aligned with the advancement of oral and overall health.
“As the nation’s leading dental benefits provider, Delta Dental is dedicated to improving oral and overall health, and I look forward to furthering that mission through innovative platforms and partnerships,” said Schwartz.
With more than 20 years of experience, Schwartz is known for building high-performing teams that thrive in collaborative environments. He previously served as Assistant General Counsel and Head of Litigation at Delta Dental of California, where he counseled business units on risk, fraud prevention, and dispute resolution matters.
Before joining Delta Dental of California, Schwartz served as the General Counsel for Hawaii Dental Service. Before transitioning in-house, he litigated cases as an attorney with Hawaii’s largest firm, Cades Schutte, LLP. Schwartz first became involved in healthcare when he interned for PhRMA in Washington, D.C., and expanded into the insurance space in New York City while working for a wide range of insurance and reinsurance clients. He has a law degree from McGill University and a Bachelor’s in Economics from the University of Wisconsin.
DentalMonitoring, the company that using artificial intelligence in dental and orthodontic care, is thrilled to announce the launch of the ScanBoxpro.
Built upon the success of their previous DM ScanBox, their latest FDA-registered innovation is a portable device patients can take with them for precise AI-powered scans anywhere and anytime. This hardware accompanies the flagship software solution DentalMonitoring, a customizable cloud-based platform for remote clinical monitoring of orthodontic treatments designed to create a single automated workflow per patient and boost practice scalability.
The device consists of two components — a cheek retractor tube designed to draw the cheeks and lips from the buccal and labial surfaces of the teeth and gums during scanning and a phone holder designed to accommodate a smartphone.
Paired with the unique DM app for patients, the ScanBoxpro offers:
Consistent imaging over time for precise tracking of treatment progress including aligners, braces and retainers of all brands
Excellent occlusal and lateral views, including molar occlusion
Suited for all patients from 6 years old.
Easy storage capability with 41% less volume
“We couldn’t be prouder to introduce our latest innovation as we continue to go further and break new ground with our solutions,” says Phillipe Salah, CEO of DentalMonitoring. “The ScanBoxpro is a game-changer for patients. It’s lightweight, portable and can easily join them on-the-go, anywhere, for high-quality scans powered by the first and most robust AI in the industry. In turn, it allows doctors to have control at every stage of treatment and helps automate their workflow while enhancing their patient experiences.”
The ScanBox is the newest addition to DentalMonitoring’s family of devices and software solutions including SmileMate, for engagement, triage and patient conversion and DentalMonitoring, the only available AI-based remote monitoring solution available to both fixed and removable orthodontic appliances of all brands.
COVID-19 led to fast and fundamental changes for dental offices’ engagement and communication workflows with patients, adjustments that created a more positive experience for both parties.
Everything from pre-appointment tasks to how a patient checks out was forced into a digital transformation. In some cases, practices even introduced teledentistry to make the appointment itself virtual. Offices that have adopted new tools to digitize their administrative tasks have found these changes were necessary and are likely a key to their future.
Here’s how the technological journey advanced for practices.
Introducing digital communication
While offices were closed in the early weeks of the pandemic, practices identified scheduling and check-in as two prime areas for improvement. These workflows could be digitized to improve efficiency and allow the practice to safely accept patients in a COVID-influenced world. It turned out this was the beginning of a much larger digital transformation.
In a lot of cases, it began with small steps, like text messaging patients to confirm appointment times or to let them know when it was safe to enter the office, enabling them to skip the waiting room. Those solutions allow practices to optimize their schedules, a process improvement that maximizes the number of patients who can receive in-person treatment in a safe and socially distanced environment.
Text messaging is a convenient way to point patients to complete check-in online, modify appointments, and even direct a patient to make payments using an online portal.
Data shows that 85% of people prefer text message communication from a company over a phone call, and SMS open rates are as high as 98%. This way the patient is truly receiving the information from the practice, rather than letting a phone call go to voicemail or disposing of a mailer.
tab32, a full-service technology platform for dental practices, announced closing a Series B round led by Spark Growth Ventures, a leading technology VC firm “on a mission to support gritty and exceptional founders.” The fundraising round is the culmination of five consecutive years of 100% year-on-year growth, including two straight years of profitable operations, and comes on the heels of tab32 signing several national dental service organizations (DSOs) as clients.
The new capital will support tab32’s continuing commitment to driving technological innovations and enabling the dental industry. The company’s cloud-based solution with proprietary Open Data Warehousing is the first in the industry to pioneer a standard model for data storage, sharing, and reporting, giving dentists and practice administrators a single source of truth for all patient information. With seamless real-time synchronization across all devices and access points, tab32’s platform is a true game changer supporting the dental industry’s rapid digital transformation.
Far more than just dental practice management software (PMS), tab32 delivers cloud connectivity and data interoperability tailored to the needs of the $130B dental support organizations (DSOs) space — a fast-growing market now attracting over $1T in private equity investment. Today, up to 20% of dental practices are DSO-affiliated, a proportion that could grow to 65% by 2025. tab32 is powering that transition by enabling DSOs to more effectively serve dozens or even hundreds of dental practices, and provide operational support within a unified cloud platform that streamlines key functions including patient engagement, billing, imaging, and teledentistry.
As dental practices grow and providers grapple with an explosion of patient-related data, tab32’s platform also comes with robust machine learning capabilities that provide critical business intelligence. This enables capabilities such as automating workflows (auto-booking incomplete treatments, for example), conducting multi-location aware analytics on business growth and profitability, and tracking in-depth dental key performance indicators.
“It’s rare to see a startup achieve rapid and consistent organic growth while maintaining profitability, and tab32 is a true stand-out among the businesses we’ve had the opportunity to partner with,” said Hem Suri, founder and managing partner of Spark Growth Ventures. “Kiltesh Patel and the tab32 team are pioneers in the dental technology world, which can greatly benefit from cutting-edge digital innovations to drive material improvements in not only patient care but also the business performance of dental practices. We’re excited to be doubling down on our partnership with tab32 as they enter a new phase of rapid growth.”
“Ever since our founding, we have been laser-focused on solving the pain points facing the dental industry and helping them reap the benefits of the latest cloud technology,” said Kiltesh Patel, CEO and co-founder of tab32. “Our growth trajectory and profitability bear testament to the market’s huge demand for cloud-based, end-to-end solutions. We’re looking forward to continuing to leverage Spark’s expertise, experience, and advisory as we continue to expand.”
The new funding will enable tab32, which currently has 65 employees, to double its headcount across its offices in the United States and India. The company will also continue to invest in R&D to optimize and build out its AI infrastructure for dental intelligence.
By Ryan Hungate, DDS, MS, a practicing orthodontist and founder and CEO, Simplifeye.
The pandemic changed the way healthcare providers ran their businesses and prodded them into adopting digital technology to better communicate with patients. While the changes may have been made out of necessity, now many healthcare practices are making the changes permanent.
Digital technologies such as website live chat, online appointment booking, telehealth visits, and contactless payment processing have proved to be popular with patients and a time-saver for staff members.
Digital Transformation and Automation in Healthcare
According to the Labor Department, four million people quit their jobs in April 2021. In the healthcare sector, that’s left many practices short-staffed. Hiring is very competitive, and remaining staff members often feel overwhelmed and overworked.
To alleviate the issue, many practices are turning to automated workflows to replace manual tasks.
Appointment scheduling is one example. For years, healthcare practices including dental and optometry offices urged patients to call the practice to make an appointment. About a third of phone calls would end up going to voicemail or patients would hang up while on hold. If the patient did reach the scheduling team, the phone calls would often be time-consuming, and only about half would end with a booked appointment.
Now healthcare practices are utilizing 24/7 live chat services to engage website visitors anytime of the day or night. Live chat provides instant gratification for people seeking answers to questions, provides excellent customer service, and can facilitate appointments either by scheduling directly into the practice management system software or by collecting the relevant details and sharing them via a HIPAA-compliant method with the practice’s scheduling team, who can then follow up and finish the appointment process.
Online appointment booking, which is also called direct scheduling, is another way to automate the scheduling process. People are used to booking restaurant reservations and travel plans online. Before the pandemic, many healthcare practices were hesitant to adopt online scheduling technology. Now, they see the value of it. The healthcare team can establish parameters such as which days and times they want to allow online scheduling, the types of procedures, and even which healthcare providers are eligible for online scheduling.
Families at Dr. Deb Peters’ practice, Peters Family Dentistry in Grand Rapids, Mich., became used to receiving emails from Dr. Peters. Sometimes she’d send updates about changes in the practice and other times she’d pass along some of her favorite recipes. In fact, the ability to send personalized newsletters was one of the reasons that Peters adopted Solutionreach for her practice within the last decade.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, suddenly Peters and her staff found that these emails were an even better way to keep in touch with families and clients about how to contact a dentist in an emergency, how a telehealth appointment would work and what the office would look like once it was allowed to reopen.
The staff realized that relying on social media didn’t necessarily mean they’d reach the entirety of the clientele. Instead, finding the option to include video in the newsletters opened a new portal to the patient experience.
“I think initially, people were being overrun by everything on social media. I knew how many followers we had, but it was well short of my patient families, so we wanted to reach them all where we knew they’d see us,” Peters says. “We utilized the newsletters, again, to tell them we were opening but also to share with them a video clip that we had made about the changes in our office. So they can look at it, but also read about it so we’re trying to come at our patients from whatever way they want to get the information. The thing we liked about Solutionreach is when you put it into the format, it looks professional.”
What Peters wasn’t counting on was how many of her clients would forward those newsletters to their friends. While many practices saw at least a 6% drop in revenue during the pandemic, Peters Family Dentistry saw more patients in 2020 than it had in 2019. By embracing the patient relationship management technology that the practice already enjoyed through Solutionreach, the office was fully booked when Michigan reopened after a 10-week closure.
“Probably one of the greatest compliments was when one of our newsletters would be forwarded to a non-patient and then that person would become a patient,” Peters says, “So I would say that that was a great form of validation that our patients were feeling cared for.”
The near future in dentistry we must consider the near past first. COVID-19 was an extreme challenge for dental offices for two reasons. The first reason was the supply of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) was limited or not available in dentistry. Hospitals and the medical field take first priority in the supply of PPE during an epidemic. Secondly, patient care dropped significantly as offices temporarily closed and patients quarantined.
The near future of dentistry looks bright from my perspective. Dental offices across the country are reopening, supplies chains are catching-up to overall demand and dental supplies are reengaging in trade-shows / events. In fact, I will be attending the International Dental Show in Germany with Delta Dental in September.
As president of Orthodontic Care of Georgia, we have seen a massive increase in patients. The state of Georgia opened faster than other states and the result was quickly realized. As Founder of Smile Perfected, we have seen substantial growth over the past quarter, which can be attributed to more and more dental practices opening and the need for oral health care increases.
Some of the challenges our dental service organization (DSO) faces is employee recruitment for the new boom in dentistry. Doctor, auxiallies, RDH and dental assistant jobs are in high demand. The challenges patients face is returning to the dental office after potentially a year away from recommended dental maintenance. Periodontal disease and tooth decay will all see increased frequency as patients return to their dentist. The other challenge as an orthodontic group is the ever growing “do-it-yourself” mail-in aligners. The in-person examination and direct treatment planning by an orthodontist, for the patient’s entire dentition, is something dentistry should require.
As for practice advancements on a microscale, dentists and dental professionals need to be prepared for a continued and ever advancing technology boom in dentistry. The modern dental office should stay on the cutting edge of dentistry by investing in available oral scanning and 3D printing and other state-of-art tools. This will help patients of course, but beyond that the value of the practice will rise.
Practice advancements on a macroscale are two-fold. Capital investment firms and DSOs are looking to invest in or buy small group and single ownership dental practices. This is a direct result of the overall long-term value dental offices present and the current financial state of smaller practices. This is an advancement for a couple reasons. One is because it gives smaller dental practices access to much needed capital to grow their office with the ever increasing costs in technology and supplies. The second is a robust organization will help improve the overall day-to-day running of the practice by access and large pool of talented dental professionals.
In my work, I talk to dentists from across the country who are preparing for career transitions. Some are retiring and taking the next step on their long-planned path, but others face outside forces that make them rethink their priorities and goals.
The reasons can be positive, like spending more time with loved ones or pursuing other passions. Other times, it is a significant life change such as health issues, divorce, or burnout.
It can be too easy to get overwhelmed by fear and stress, but that can often lead to rash decisions that cause regret. It’s human nature and all too easy to panic when facing change.
Luckily, the dental industry has many options. You need to explore the choices methodically and evaluate all the information. The first step, consider asking a trusted colleague or family member for their opinion. They know you best and can be an objective listener.
Here are two tales of what happens when “life happened” to two dentists without transition plans.
Ignoring the problem
Dr. Arthur’s dental practice thrived on complex, intricate cosmetic procedures. His stellar reputation among local practitioners resulted in patients waiting months to book an appointment. He had enough business to bring in an associate or partner but preferred working solo. He felt no one could meet his exacting standards.
In his early forties, he began to experience numbness in his dominant hand. It was worse on days when he performed more prolonged procedures. He tried anti-inflammatories and icing it, but mostly, he ignored it.
After four or five years of this, his condition deteriorated rapidly. He could no longer hold a handpiece, and a hand surgeon diagnosed him with advanced carpal tunnel.