21 Oct Change Was Not Easier Back Then
The Abrams Report
Change Was Not Easier Back Then
Back in the early nineties, we sold natural cure composite because it was more esthetic than amalgam in the anterior region. By the mid-nineties, we were marketing universal (anterior/posterior) light cured restorative materials that offered better handling, esthetics, and speed. Unfortunately, those earlier materials did not wear as well as today’s materials, and they lacked long term shade stability. The journey from natural self-cure composite to the light cured materials of today was delayed by resistance and cost. The trek from self-cured composites to Micro Hybrid composites lasted over two decades. During that time, dentists resisted white fillings because of previous failures, complexity (preparation and isolation), procedure time, sensitivity, materials cost and insurance reimbursement.
We were pioneers
It was rewarding to be a dental sales consultant in those amazing nineties and early 2000s (and still is!). We helped the dental community computerize and digitize their facilities and we introduced dentists to the wonderful world of bonding, esthetic dentistry, and rotary endo. After the A.I.D.S. epidemic we helped dentists develop protocols and educated their teams on infection control.
Of course, dentistry would have modernized and digitized without the dealer rep. However, there was no Internet, no podcasts, and no social media to market new products. The only way to introduce a new material or piece of equipment was via a live CE event, a KOL newsletter, clinical journals, expensive advertisements in trade magazines or from a consultive, distributor rep. The dealer rep was an instrument of change, leveraging their relationships with the dentist to expose them to new products and technology.
The Good Old Days?
I speak about the nineties as if they were the good old days, but change was not easier back then. As a matter of fact, the movement towards modernization and digitization required investment. While modern-day dentistry opened a lucrative window of opportunity, business regulation, dental insurance, digitizing the office and infection control guidelines created complexity and jarring financial burdens for the solo dentist.
Today, your dealer sales consultant is fighting the same fight sales reps fought thirty years ago. They are leveraging their personal relationships and knowledge of the local marketplace to move the needle with their clients. Dealer reps are change agents and change is not always welcome or easy, especially during an industry- wide consolidation, a technological revolution, and a pandemic.
The reluctance or delay in acquiring new technology is very different today than the resistance of the nineties. It should be noted that the detriment of not embracing technology is also less forgiving now than it was thirty years ago. Here are some reasons why:
- The patient experience is critical in the era of social media (your online reputation is your reputation)
- Employing the latest technology is a patient expectation
- The smart phone has empowered the public to be advocates of their own healthcare
- Better outcomes and faster treatment (fewer appointments) resonates with today’s public
- Good staff, dental providers, and buyers are attracted to offices that have the latest technology and equipment
- Technology is moving so fast that delay can make it too difficult or too expensive to catch-up
- In the era of the Internet of Things (IoT), dentists will embrace Software as a Service (SaaS) products and equipment that utilizes AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning to enhance their clinical outcomes, marketing, and the patients experience.
- Years ago, if you were using outdated equipment, no one knew any better
- Today’s consumer is better educated, and their mobile device allows them to compare providers and reviews.
- Many of these technologies (Digital Impressioning, 3D Imaging and CadCam) are becoming standard of care because they improve efficiency, diagnosis, and the customer experience.
One of my mentors shared a very valuable quote about change with me years ago. “When the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change, change will occur.” Resisting change is normal and not all change is good or just. But in business, delaying the inevitable is for naught.