Future Tech General Just for Fun

Dental Tech Predictions for 2012

I humbly report that my 2011 predictions regarding dentistry and high tech, which can be found here, all proved to be 100% accurate. Knowing it is not possible to improve on that record I am submitting predictions for 2012 that I expect to be 100% wrong.

Knowing these predictions will never come to pass makes them not really predictions but more like hopes or ideals. Like ending the scourge of periodontal disease or peace on earth, we’d all like to see these things happen in 2012 but know they never will.

  1. All the major creators and sellers of dental software agree to industry standards that allow a dentist in Cleveland using dental software Softrix to send a complete chart including all the notes, x-rays and medical history digitally to a dentist in Spokane using dental software Eagleworks. The Spokane dentist can simply import the complete chart and use it all with a single click. Heck it would be a big improvement if the Softrix user could just send a dental chart across town to another Softrix user.
  2. Using film x-rays becomes the social equivalent of smoking in public. Sure people still do it but they are made to feel that they are low status and unclean. After all the film developing chemicals are stinky and who knows they might even cause cancer. Of course for a dental office to stop using film they first have to really want to change.
  3. Digital impressions become main stream as dental labs start charging half price for digital impression cases. Simple business accounting demonstrates that when the lab eliminates the cost of pick up, pouring models, trimming dies and remakes for distorted, dried out bubbly impressions the lab can make a lot more profit and charge less if they can get rid of those pesky impressions. .
  4. E-Services will become so fast, so good and so cheap that dentists will finally get it. They will look back on the primitive days of 2011 and wonder how any intelligent professional could ever have sent bills by mail, sorted charts by hand to find non responsive patients, made phone calls to confirm patients or waited on hold to establish insurance eligibility.
  5. Suddenly realizing that “Google it” is now a well-established part of the American lexicon dentists will scramble to get an office web page. A few idealistic hold outs will mutter I don’t need a web page my practice is 100% referral. Of course in 2012 even the best personal referral will still Google the dental office just to find the address and phone number.
  6. Finally dental insurance companies will start to use online systems to accept dental claims, review them and transfer payments to the dental office account instantly. Seriously, it could happen.

The future is coming and it will be Amazing!

One reply on “Dental Tech Predictions for 2012”

Dear Dr. Larry Emmott:

Your article, “Dental High Tech Predictions for 2012,” that lists the advances which you lament will not occur, reveals dentists’ underlying quiet disappointment in the progress of EDRs that have been discussed only privately until now.

Since this makes you the second dentist in the nation to publicly acknowledge the unpopular truth about EHRs in dentistry, we now have the minimum number necessary for conversation – should you be interested. Regardless, I salute you, Larry. What you did took courage.

I empathize about lack of progress in interoperable electronic dental records. I too wanted to witness the miracles of Evidence-Based Dentistry SAFELY data-mined – with permission – from dentists’ computers. But it doesn’t look like real-time magic will happen in 2012 or perhaps even in our lifetime If dentists don’t communicate with each other.

As you know, until the horrendous security problems with EDRs are mitigated, dentists will never enjoy interoperability simply because consumers will not cooperate. Once dentists lose patients’ trust in EDRs, they will simply seek dentists who use paper records, and interoperability will take at least another generation.

I’ve studied the security problem extensively. Common sense says that if patients’ Protected Health Information (PHI) is unavailable, it cannot be stolen by burglar, hacker or dishonest employee. Only then will EDRs be safer than paper dental records.

Have you and I ever discussed de-identifying EDRs?

D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

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