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ADA FDI 2019 disruption panel helps dentists adapt to changing profession

August 29, 2019

By Mary Beth Versaci

San Francisco –– A panel at the ADA FDI World Dental Congress will shed some light on disruptions in the field of dentistry and what they mean for the profession.

Is Disruption the New Normal for Dentistry? (5170) is scheduled for 1-2 p.m. Sept. 5 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. ADA President Jeffrey M. Cole, D.D.S., M.B.A., will lead the discussion.

President - Cole
Dental disruption: ADA President Jeffrey M. Cole will lead Is Disruption the New Normal for Dentistry? at ADA FDI 2019.
"I am excited to facilitate this timely conversation on an issue that is rapidly shifting the dental landscape," Dr. Cole said. "When we understand the drivers behind market disruption, our profession is in a much better position to adapt."

Panelists include Thomas Seery, founder and CEO of RealSelf; Dr. Lou Shuman, founder and CEO of Cellerant Consulting Group; and Marko Vujicic, Ph.D., chief economist and vice president of the ADA Health Policy Institute.

"Disruptive innovation generally is changes in the business model of dentistry or the way we pay for dentistry, but in a substantive way that challenges the status quo," Dr. Vujicic said.

One major disruption is the changing attitudes of patients, particularly millennials, who are placing more emphasis on convenience and affordability and less on doctor loyalty, he said. On the provider side, dentists are working in larger practices with the capital to invest in technology, marketing and the user experience.

"I see those two trends really pushing the market to a lot of change," Dr. Vujicic said.

Technology has played a major role in shaping the way patients make decisions, Mr. Seery said.

"Growing up in the digital age, millennials and their Gen Z successors have been conditioned to crave convenience and comprehensive information," he said. "They seek both in every aspect of their life, especially when it comes to expensive beauty and health decisions like professional oral care."

Dr. Shuman's Cellerant Consulting Group is known for bringing state-of-the-art technologies into the dental space.

"Artificial intelligence, machine learning, nanotechnology, virtual consultation and antimicrobials just scratch the surface of technologies that are impacting the dental practice and the patient," he said. "Many think these technologies are the future when in reality, they are already here."

The panel will present practical ways for dentists to address these disruptions and make their practices more consumer friendly.

For example, providers can offer appointment booking online to make the process more convenient for patients, Dr. Vujicic said. Some larger dental companies also are bringing dental care directly to patients through visiting workplaces with mobile dental or hygiene units.

When it comes to dentists' online presence, Mr. Seery said patients are most attracted to authenticity and transparency.

"For instance, on RealSelf.com, user-generated content like patient photos and reviews of treatments and doctors are wildly popular. Practices that get rich, detailed patient reviews are garnering the most attention among consumers," he said. "When looking at our Instagram, the highest-performing posts are informative, personal and nonpromotional. In the end, authenticity and transparency are some of the best antidotes to industry disruption."

While disruptions in dentistry have come on gradually, dentists should be prepared for these changes to accelerate over the next five years, Dr. Vujicic said.

"Disruption can be good," Dr. Cole said. "It drives us toward innovations that help us meet our patients' ever-changing expectations. It also provides the opportunity to look at new ways of doing business while at the same time keeping the foundations of our profession strong. If we adapt to disruption, dentistry will continue to thrive."

To register for the panel, add it via the ADA Events mobile app or visit ADA.org/meeting.