Imagine a world in which—if you owned a BMW—you could only fill up at a BMW gas station using BMW gas. Ford gas won’t work. You can only drive in the BMW lane and take the BMW off ramp. If the BMW off ramp is closed for repairs, you can’t take the Ford or Toyota off ramp. That whole scenario is preposterous but it is basically what happens when we use closed proprietary dental systems.
Interoperability is the ability of different systems from different vendors to work together. The opposite is proprietary, where users are restricted to one vendor’s products. The classic examples of this are VHS vs. Beta and MAC vs. PC. Open systems give users more choice at lower cost.
When shopping for a digital product, let vendors know that open systems are an important buying factor. Ask the sales person if you can transfer the digital impression to any lab of your choice or if you can load the impression into design software of your choice. In many cases, the answer will be no. Let the sales person—or, better yet, the sales managers and product managers—know that you won’t buy a closed system.
I promise you that when you do this the salesperson will be prepared with a very plausible sounding reason that their closed system is better and it is in your best interests to play in their private sandbox.
The fact is that closed proprietary systems benefit the manufacturers and vendors they do not benefit the profession and our patients. Vendors will not provide interoperable systems until dentists demand it as a condition of purchase.
Is an open system on your checklist when purchasing an intraoral scanner?