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a blog by Chris Barrow

The Global Digital Dental Business

Just when you think about slowing down a bit……. I’m currently discussing business mentoring and/or digital marketing services with prospects and clients in:

  1. UK

  2. Ireland

  3. Holland

  4. Greece

  5. Romania

  6. India

  7. Sweden

  8. Australia

and in the last 12 months have been fascinated by projects in Luxembourg and Turkey. The arrival of the digital dental business (in all of its formats – as previously discussed) is accelerating the breakdown in barriers and distance between different locations, traditions and cultures. The Digital Smile Design movement has been a real catalyst in this process, whether you follow Christian Coachman/Livio Yoshinaga or Florin Cofar, the prominent public speakers from that genre are travelling the world right now and lecturing to multi-national audiences. Elaine Halley and Gary Jenkinson are leading the charge in the UK with an excellent series of DSD hands on courses. I have had the opportunity to co-present with them all and have been fascinated by the mix in the room. Chatting with delegates about “how things are” in global dentistry, I’m noticing that the same old messages are appearing, stories of how tough it can be to run your own small dental practice and yet how amazing the job can be when you are innovating. Try running your dental business in a broken economy where every Euro you make is taxed at 50% at source (Greece), or where prices are fixed by the Government (Holland). In this blog we have mentioned before the adoption cycle and the observation that 5% of dentists are innovators, 15% early adopters and 80% late adopters (I might even leave a spare percentage point for the laggards). The digital dental business has been about innovation for the last 10 years but we are now noticeably moving into the early adoption phase – the evidence that “this stuff works” is mounting and more Principals are taking notice and joining in. Even a walk around the exhibition at the recent BDA conference (and that didn’t take very long) revealed a huge emphasis on “the internet of things” in dental business and the advantages of technology in diagnostics and delivery. I was chatting to a partner in a 14-chair Dutch practice over dinner a few nights ago who commented:

“I’m the only dentist left in the practice taking impressions (because I’m good at it and enjoy it) – everyone else is scanning’.

The development (and growing competition) goes on in clinical equipment and 3D printing, the software manufacturers have clearly woken up and realised that they need their practice management systems to rejuvenate, education is moving on-line as well as on-site (another 80/20), treatment planning is becoming a cloud-based audio-visual experience (how long, I wonder, before patients are looking at holographic images of themselves post-treatment?). Here at 7connections we have a mission to lead the field in the understanding and delivery of co-ordinated, integrated and digitised marketing and customer relationship management systems – automating enquiry capture, lead generation, lead conversion, long term-care, repeat-selling and word of mouth. Systems that provide real-time metrics to allow constant split-testing of marketing ideas to generate the most effective return on investment. I’ve listened to the DSD world market leaders talk about digital treatment planning and they are at the cutting edge. I’ve listened to them talk about marketing and management – they are undoubtedly good but nowhere near cutting edge. Until recently, I had accepted that the work of our business was restricted to 10,000 or so owners in the UK. We are now realising that global dentistry is a huge market – and we have only just begun. For the Principal – no matter where you live, the end of insularity and regional idiosyncrasy may sound romantic but the benefits to the small independent practitioner will, in my opinion, be life-saving. The corporates will be slow to respond and reluctant to invest. There is a window of opportunity. Go for it – digitally.

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