Technology Adoption Accelerated

With each technological breakthrough, there is an adoption curve that illustrates the various stages of consumer engagement. In most cases the adoption curve starts with innovators. These are the thinkers and creators. After the innovators, you have the early adopter. These are visionaries that trust the trends and expect a movement. They enthusiastically invest in the latest and greatest tools and equipment. Happy early adopters provide comfort to the pragmatists who ushers in the early majority. This is when a trend becomes a national movement. Adoption rates soar and joining the movement becomes more of an inevitability than a consideration. Eventually, the more conservative buyers (the late majority) join the revolution leaving only the laggards and outliers behind. 

By 2000, broadband and cell phones began to disrupt decades of syndicated and cable television programming and telecommunication company dominance. These technological advancements enhanced the consumer experience with on-demand viewership and feature rich cell phones. 

For over forty years Americans relied and loved their wall and desktop phones. The evolution, from rotary to push button to cordless phones revolutionized consumer electronics. Flash forward to the mid-nineties and early two-thousands and cell phone usage became ubiquitous. Businesspeople were attached, at their hips, to their BlackBerrys™. But in the early two thousand’s, dedicated Blackberry™ fans started to migrate towards the feature-rich iPhone™ and Android™ smart phone. Since that time, most of us have upgraded or replaced our phones several times, suggesting that we now replace our phones every two to four years. More remarkable than the speed at which we adopt technology, is that we replace technology that still works! As a matter of fact, the technology works like it did when we first fell in love with it. 

In the next decade we will likely pair or replace our indispensable smartphone with wearable technology. These miniaturized multi-purpose, devices (watches, necklaces, rings, wristbands, pins, and sensor mounted clothing) will monitor our biometrics and will remember our behaviors. This hyper-augmented virtual reality, combined with artificial intelligence and voice capability, will impact every aspect of our being. 

Technology is moving at warp speed.

Adoption and implementation get the headlines, but integration and workflow are where technology meets practicality. Buying technology is easy but integrating it with your systems and corporate culture requires leadership.

In the dental community, practice owners are making decisions about equipment and technology that enhance diagnosis, shortens procedure times, provides a better patient experience, or provides a competitive advantage. It is more exciting to buy tangible equipment than software and operational services, but it is prudent to evaluate them both. Your website, phone-system and digital footprint reflects your business. Consider it your digital curb appeal.

During these unprecedented times, dentists are learning to do more with less. More production (procedures) with less patient appointments accomplished through operational efficiency, technology, teledentistry and comprehensive, same day dentistry. More procedures in less appointments benefits the patient and the practice. The practice improves efficiency, has less PPE burn and improves patient satisfaction. On the flip side, the patient is rewarded with less anxiety, more free time, and a quicker dental solution. We rarely consider the patients inconvenience, when we ask them to interrupt their schedule and travel to and from the office for a second or third appointment. 

There is no end in sight. Technology and reinvention are inescapable and necessary. Failure to address both will have consequences, especially during a technological revolution amid a pandemic.

One of our executive leaders at Henry Schein is known for saying “We can do anything, but we can’t do everything”. These words teach us to acknowledge the world of possibilities and priorities. In a small dental office or a multi-national corporation, the capacity to change, what to change and how we can make change is extremely complicated. In the end, continuous improvement, progress, and a winning strategy is all you can work and wish for. For those whose project or priority was not selected this year, you have another year to build consensus and support so that your pet project is selected next year. Until that time, we need to understand and appreciate that we are part of the progress and agents of change. 

Wishing everyone a safe and loving Thanksgiving!