De-localizing Dentistry in 2024

Using the latest technology to be hyper-efficient with clinical time while exceeding patients’ expectations

Over the past few years, technologically savvy patients have been demanding accessible solutions for oral healthcare. So, despite recent headlines regarding the downfall of certain remote orthodontic business models, the dental industry still needs to be forward-thinking and open-minded enough to incorporate technology that lets it tap into this market demand. Otherwise, competitors will leapfrog the dentist entirely to satisfy the market, treating the experts as middlemen, when instead dentists should be leading the way into that inevitable future.

That’s why, in 2024, we’ll see the rise of de-localized dentistry. Think of remote diagnostics via digital imaging, like scanning centers, or smart devices that use augmented reality to help visualize compounded data in more meaningful and useful ways—transcending 2D and 3D imaging alone. It’s also easy to imagine how patients’ smartphones will play a role in the future of dentistry through smart device imaging at home. Also, as centralized cloud platforms give us secure access to patient information quickly and efficiently, telehealth will become even more streamlined. When all combined, we’ll see greater success in treatment outcomes and better access to care, and patients will have a better experience through the digital process.

So, with all this emerging technology in 2024, why force patients down the path of a last-century treatment model? Think of the joke on the Internet: “This meeting could have been an email…” Today, we have the potential to enhance patient engagement and streamline clinical workflows if we change our thinking to: “This appointment could have been (and can be!) a Zoom call.” I've experienced firsthand how remote diagnostics, and telehealth, can help me be hyper-efficient with my clinical time. Particularly, a cloud-based centralized platform could be the key to de-centralized dentistry. Scheduling appointments and virtual patient intake on the front end of the appointment and pulling up clinical images or screen sharing during virtual consultation during the appointment can streamline your patient interactions even further. Patients and the doctors can be anywhere—the car pickup line after school, out at lunch or from the home office—and still progress the dental care process on their own time, that doesn’t have to involve a trip to a brick-and-mortar office.

This delocalized, reordered world of digital dental care is closer than we think. It’s no different than the transition from film to digital imaging, or bands and brackets to clear aligners: We’re chipping away at the physical, face-to-face requirements and blending them with the contemporary capabilities (and expectations, quite frankly) of the digital age. The patient demand is already here, and it just takes a forward-thinking industry, like dentistry, to shift gears so that we can all reach our destinations faster in 2024.

Learn more about how you can continue to provide the best patient care by accessing the power of the cloud here.

Dr. Andrew Johnson DDS | MDS | CDT | FACP