Digital intraoral scanners (IOS) have transformed the way dental professionals provide patient care. Feedback found in surveys, studies and consultations show that patients prefer scanning over analog impressions. Although there are various manufacturers of IOS, all the major producers are extremely accurate for full arch indications.
If we set aside the debate of who creates the most accurate IOS, it makes sense to explore how IOS can offer other benefits – and here is where Scanomics comes in play. A portmanteau of scanner and economics, Scanomics is a theory that involves combining a return on investment with the adoption of disruptive technologies into a mass market.
The world is now entering the fourth industrial revolution, commonly known as the 4IR. Much like the first industrial revolution that transformed the face of production forever, 4IR is quickly altering daily workflows in dental practices across the country. Intraoral scanners have streamlined the traditional workflow with the help of the CAD/CAM laboratory processes.
In addition to their main purpose, IOS can be utilized for various other solutions. For example, IOS can be used to monitor changes resulting from bruxism or erosion, as well as show simulated outcomes for aligners or smile design cases. Also, intraoral scans can be overlaid automatically onto CBCT volumes to show patients the accuracy of the digital procedures prior to implant placement and final restoration position. Altogether, these efforts showcase a higher level of patient care. Because these techniques cannot be undertaken in-surgery and immediately via analog methods, these technologies are labeled as disruptive.
Disruptive Workflow in Dentistry
Disruptive technology describes any innovation that can interrupt or change established workflows, eventually leading up to a change in the market. The Spinning Jenny weaving machine from the first industrial revolution is a prime example of disruptive technology. The machine alone performed the work of eight individuals. This invention greatly improved productivity despite the threat it posed to unemployment levels in rural areas.
In order to adopt disruptive technology, alternative or niche workflows are required. Niche workflows should include simulated videos of the outcome that are presented to patients immediately after a digital scan has been taken. Another example of a niche workflow would include dental labs being able to offer a design service, i.e. if a dentist has a chairside milling machine and an IOS but cannot undertake the design processes. In this case, the scans are sent to the lab to be designed, and the files are then returned to be completed at the practice. As in dentistry today, the 4IR is all about transferring files and not necessarily the goods with production being done locally, not centrally.
The Market Model
One of the core components of Scanomics is understanding the market model of disruptive technology. Whenever game-changing innovations are introduced, there is always a segment of the market who will adopt these technologies right away – the innovators and early adopters. Between the early adopters and the rest of the market, there is a chasm that needs to be breached for more people to buy the product. In the past when dentists were asked why they purchased an IOS, their general answers were centered around a “want” and not necessarily a “need”. However, with the latest updates, a need has developed for going digital. The market today is on the brink of ‘crossing the chasm’ from early adoption to an early majority with IOS.
Enjoying Everything a Scanner Can Give You
Scanomics is truly about harnessing the power of disruptive technology to enhance treatments and services. Carestream Dental’s CS 3600 intraoral impression scanner is one example of effective disruptive technology. It has an open system architecture so that STL files can be shared between practice and laboratory without having to download or purchase new software. Also, the latest software update can immediately present any significant changes to the patient and has made tracking and monitoring intraoral changes easier. It may only be a small element of the dental workflow, but it is a great example of how efficient your workflow can become when IOS technology is utilized.