Everything Dental Blog – November 2016

Things are speeding up

We all know it. Something is happening around us. You feel it in your work environment. Your kids and family members sense it too. You can’t miss it when you read the newspapers or watch the news. It’s creating uncertainty, resentment and deniability. We are in a state of accelerated change spurred on by a technological boom.

We are no longer living in the era of accomplishment and accumulation. We are operating in the era of apps and accountability, compounded by a constant state of change. It’s daunting and it’s contributing to our social unrest. Workers are being held to higher standards and their performance is being measured in real time. Corporations and small businesses, like dental offices, know that time is money and human capital weighs heavy on the bottom line.

  • You can do business/communicate with the world from any device 24/7
  • You can do research about anything or any product – 24/7
  • You can share data and images in real time
  • You can monitor job performance and compare it to industry norms and corporate targets instantaneously
  • Web conferencing is easy and affordable
  • If a robot or software can do it for less – they will
  • Want to analyze big data? -All you need is an app

Beyond the impact of smart phones and powerful computers are robotics and software applications that do the work once done by human beings. We outsource and offshore critical jobs and services that can be done for less elsewhere. As a result of these activities, we are experiencing social, economic and geopolitical consequences.Our world is changing rapidly. We get our news and information on a device that is practically connected to our bodies. Mobile phones are amazing but distracting. They serve us well but complicate our existence. Since we keep our phones attached to us, clients and business associates think we are available 24/7. Today, we are expected to respond instantaneously (even on weekends).

Author Tom Friedman just released his new book Thank You for Being Late. The premise behind this work is to attempt to explain the acceleration of everything and the events of the twenty-first century. Tom Friedman believes you need to understand that the planet’s three largest forces—Moore’s law (technology), the Market (globalization), and Mother Nature (climate change and biodiversity loss) are accelerating all at once. These accelerations are transforming five key realms: the workplace, politics, geopolitics, ethics, and community.

Friedman attributes the release of the iPhone, advancements in silicon chips, software, storage, sensors, and networking to the creation of a new technology platform. Friedman calls this platform “the supernova”—for it is an extraordinary release of energy that is reshaping everything from how we hail a taxi to the fate of nations to our most intimate relationships.

I have been writing about change for over twenty years. In the nineties, we believed conspiracy theories of planned obsolescence if our technology products didn’t last twenty years or more. Back then, we couldn’t have imagined that the life expectancy of a telephone or computer would be 3 years long.

I remember heartfelt conversations with my reluctant Boomer clients about composite dentistry, computerization, digital radiography, intra-oral cameras and patient confirmation services (e-mail and text confirmation and reactivation). Do you remember those days when cell phone numbers were rarely shared and the phone lived in our glove compartments?

In those days it was easy to understand the adoption of technology. You knew which dentists were pioneers (forward thinking) and who were more resistant to try things. You also knew that once enough doctors got on board, the other dentists would follow. The dental adoption curve started with the inventors and innovators. It then spreads to the early adopters, followed by the early majority. This was generally the tipping point for mass dentist adoption and over time, the reluctant laggards submitted. Today, the adoption curve has accelerated and most dental business owners feel pressure to modernize, miniaturize or digitize their equipment and technology as an ongoing activity.

The high cost of technology creates a wedge between the “Haves” and “Have Nots”. To their credit, the “Haves” have a competitive advantage and over time, the implications will be quite significant.

In the early 2000’s I wrote about the generation X’ers and feared that they would experience downward mobility. I urged the entitled X’ers to embrace marketing and pay attention to operational efficiency. During the rocky economical period of 2008 – 2012 many GenX’er dentists moved towards insurance participation and that accelerated an industry trend into a movement.

Today we welcome the eager and gifted Millenial dentist. They are focused, committed and very tech savvy. This generation has embraced Same Day Dentistry and they will be instruments of change when it comes to expanded auxiliary duties and new dental business models. I credit them on knowing the difference between offering electives and executing on elective dentistry opportunities. They do more Invisalign™, implants and a host of other dental electives.

The millennials are data driven and will manage their businesses more efficiently. They use Dental Practice Pro to understand their business and analyze their financial statistics. They are interested in learning about sleep apnea and other revenue streams. They are quick to outsource certain processes that require costly human capital and oversight. Millenials like technology and want to incorporate equipment that improves clinical outcomes, speeds up processes, makes dentistry easier or more profitable. They understand the value of a great patient experience and online reviews.

In this era of apps and cloud computing, I was afraid people would lose that interpersonal contact. I remember how perplexed I was when my kids started texting their friends. It seemed ridiculous to me and I never thought I’d text. Well, I was wrong. I exchange 10 – 20 texts daily in addition to the 100 e-mails I receive. Who could have ever imagined that? Another, incredible technology that I use often is Skype™ or web conferencing. It’s absolutely amazing to see your client and share your computer screen with them. That sales demonstration which required air travel and hotel can be done as you speak on the phone or over the computer (voice over IP).

As we continue down this digital highway with computers that go faster, we must remember to take in the sights and enjoy the ride. I would like to thank everyone who has worked or collaborated with me this year. To my valued customers who trust, support and respect me, thank you. It is an honor and privilege to work with and for you. I look forward to working with you all and making 2017 a great year.

Happy Holidays!