Reflections on 2020 from Lisa Ashby, Carestream Dental CEO

2020 will certainly go down in the history books. Across the globe, lockdowns, restrictions, social and economic impacts had an effect on all of us.

However, change can have a surprising impact. It calls on us to listen differently, be creative, and to do things in different ways. I would like to share a few of my thoughts on 2020 and how it allowed Carestream Dental to rise to unique challenges.

Meeting Customer Needs

COVID-19 and the lockdown restrictions certainly led to some swift changes in order to ensure we could support our oral healthcare customers. In a period of 12 hours, we were able to virtualize our  global customer care organization which takes thousands of clinical and technical calls from customers.  Our previous investments in cloud based phone and work tools provided us a seamless transition in order to be available when customers needed us as well as to protect our valued employees.

The lockdowns also had an impact on dental practices across the globe. As dentists navigated their office closures, we quickly ramped up our educational events so dental professionals could use their downtime to be more efficient, learn about how to maximize the use of their technology, tackle items on their to-do lists they could never get to before and prepare their reopening strategies.

Last—but not least— we reprioritized and accelerated R&D projects to better meet customer’s needs. We used this time to drive digital innovation that took on new meaning for our customers (such as virtual waiting rooms, digital patient forms, teledental etc.)

Caring for Our Employees and Communities

Like many businesses, we had to make decisions regarding furloughs and reduced work hours. Although this was challenging, the response we received from our team was overwhelming. Many reached out to me to let me know they were ready to come back and help when the time was right. I was inspired by their loyalty to the company and—more than that—their commitment to helping our customers.

We also heard from a number of employees on their dedication to social issues. Based on this feedback, we created a community engagement committee in the U.S. that focused on encouraging employees to participate in their local elections. We also had the opportunity to support Mercy Ships in its effort to provide care to underserved communities and our local teams around the world organized relief supplies and aid for first responders and taking care of children and the elderly.  

Contributing to an Exciting Industry

We’ve long known that the virtualization of dentistry was coming; however, COVID-19 may have accelerated the adoption of virtual tools and techniques on a larger scale.

In terms of the general landscape of dentistry, digital solutions have enabled the acquisition and storage of more data. Gone are the days of keeping impressions in a storage room for an allotted number of years. Now, digital models—and other forms of data—can be easily stored in a virtual environment.

Like a number of industries, this digitization is contributing to the burgeoning world of artificial intelligence (AI). By having access to all this data, we are able to apply deep learning to provide predictive analytics to dental professionals and patients.

Providing automated treatment guidance and patient management tools to professionals has arrived and we are excited to be at the forefront of these innovations.   

While this year has certainly been different for all of us, I hope 2020 also presented some opportunities to you to try things differently, too.

Best wishes to you for a happy, safe and prosperous 2021!

Lisa Ashby CEO, Carestream Dental