In this series of short vignettes, Dr. Alex Touchstone shares his Planmeca integration story and how he and his team managed to grow his practice 48% over the last year. Learn how they chose technology that allowed them to deliver better treatment outcomes and more production.
You know I’m smiling like this because I just learned that last year in my practice we increased our production 48%. Wow. 48%. You know if I look back on the last year of all the decisions we made in the things that we integrated there to that really stand out. One is that I incorporated the Planmeca Promax Mid Cone Beam CT as well as the Sovereign Classic Dental delivery system. These two things together really brought my level of integration in my office up to a new level. So I'd like to visit with you a little bit in these vignettes about the impact that full integration has on the practice and how we can leverage that in order to get better treatment outcomes for our patients and of course more production. So let's take a look.
So it's one thing to have technology to practice, it's another altogether to be able to use it effectively but it's just as important that patients or potential patients understand what is it we have available and how it benefits them. So therein lies the power of branding and distinguishing ones practice from say every other practice out there.
So I’d like to show you a couple of elements of our branding strategy. One is our website. Our website is usually the second thing that people see or hear about. The first thing being a Google ad or perhaps a Facebook or YouTube ad or television ad. The website itself reflects who we are, what we do, and how we leverage technologies in order to provide better care. So that's the second piece. Let's look at the first piece - the introduction of the practice to the potential patient in the form of a recent television ad.
Ad Voiceover: “Touchstone is a great place to come for all your dental needs.” Denise, Patient Coordinator
“When we properly apply technology for the care of our patients we derive a better result. So we carefully select technologies that allow us to fulfill that goal here Touchstone Dentistry.” Dr. Alex Touchstone
“We see one patient at a time which people find to be not only unique but very special.” Denise, Patient Coordinator
“I love taking care of my patients, and my friends and family members.” Dr. Alex Touchstone
“So we’d sure like to have you come to Touchstone Dentistry.” Denise, Patient Coordinator
So you can see from this advertisement that we're different, we're showing patients how we're different, and we're giving them an impression of what it is that they can expect whenever they come. That is been a huge practice builder for me and I cannot tell you enough or stress enough how important it is that practices that invest in technology not only invest in the education to use it but also in the promotional dollars that help patients understand what the benefits are to them.
So let's talk a little bit about how we can use the idea of full integration in order to bring our practice up to a new level clinically. We just saw how we can use integration of technologies as a branding opportunity for our practice and how I leverage that in order to encourage patients to look at our practice differently before they ever come through the door. Now let's imagine that you're here for your first visit and we're going to capture some information of course and the patient doesn't fully understand yet exactly how this is going to be used. I just simply tell them “I need to get some information in order to do a really good job and treatment planning”. I'm going to capture 3D x-ray, if necessary, some two-dimensional x-rays, some photographs and then I'm going to put all of this into our system and we're going to look at it together. Now what they don't know is it because I have Romexis as a clinical platform for capturing and gathering all this data I'm going to be able to seamlessly go through all of it right there in front of the patient. So imagine you're that patient you're in this chair and we've done all that capturing, Here's how we're going to use it.
Let’s imagine we’re going to leverage this idea of integration throughout the treatment planning process. You're my patient. You've been sitting in this chair in front of me for about the past five minutes or so looking at this picture on the screen and you're asking yourself “I wonder what it is that Dr. Touchstone is going to recommend?”
So I come in and I sit down and I say “What do you see? What is it that concerns you?” And we begin the conversation in that regard because I want the patient to become invested in their own care and along the way, of course, I want them to understand that my role is to give information and then to help make recommendations and of course I want the patient to understand that they can trust me.
So we're going to look at this picture first and then we're going to go through all the other pieces of information that have been gathered. And because of Romexis in the full integration of all the various pieces of clinical information I've got everything at my fingertips. I can go to the 2D X-rays. I can go through them one by one if I wish. Of course, I can also go through the three-dimensional X-rays and I can educate the patient as to what I'm seeing and how we are going to go through a treatment process in order to correct any pathologies or deal with any aesthetic issues or functional issues along the way.
So therein lies the power of integration as it relates to treatment planning. It's not a matter of anymore the patient just listening to us talk about the things that we see. It's a matter of us showing them on the screen and having them understand it from a visual standpoint and of course because of the precise nature of this diagnostic process, it also means that I'm going to have a much better treatment plan. I'm going to have better treatment processes. I’m going to have more certainty as I go through the treatment process for the patient and we're going to look at that next. Some various processes that we can leverage technology in the form of these Planmeca instruments in order to provide better care for our patients.
So let me give you a vision around integration as it relates to implant therapy using the Planmeca Suite of Technologies. Of course, we’re going to take a Cone Beam CT and do our virtual implant planning as we see here but that's just the first step.
We can, of course, do that chairside with the patient and help them to understand the importance of careful placement and all the things that we're going to do in order to provide a nice precise result but then we’re going to carry that from the virtual world into the real world. And we're going to do that by designing a surgical guide in the implant surgical guide module and then we can print that surgical guide with our 3D printer. This, of course, gives us precise placement guidance as we place our implant but it doesn't even stop there because once I'm ready to place my implant on my treatment delivery system I have a number of different handpieces as you see including my implant handpiece with integrated sterile irrigation. So I can just simply switch from one handpiece to the next or perhaps to a scalar whenever necessary and go through that process of placing the implant for the patient without having to have additional pieces of equipment laid out around the room. It makes for a very nice, neat, tidy, and efficient workflow.
Now that we’ve looked at some of the treatment planning possibilities, the implant planning and placement possibilities as it relates to the fully integrated practice using the Planmeca Suite of Technologies, let's imagine that our patient needs a crown. Now, of course, we're going to do a chairside CAD/CAM crown and that's nothing new but what is unique to this system is the deep level of integration and cohesiveness with which everything works.
By that I mean, of course, I'm going to grab my Emerald scanner and I'm going to quickly scan directly into Romexis the information that’s required to design the restoration and then I'm going to use the design center module that we see here in order to design that same restoration, in this case, an implant-supported crown that is going to be screw retained and then once that's done with very quickly move that over into our milling center and we mill out the restoration while the patient waits. This process, frankly, takes between an hour and an hour and a half start to finish regardless of what type of material we use and we do have a number of high-performance materials available to us. So the sky's the limit when it comes to CAD/CAM chairside with the Planmeca FIT system. It’s just another element of this fully integrated practice that is so beautifully unique whenever we have it all put together in this fashion.
Up until recently whenever we discussed intraoral scanning as a component of the fully integrated practice, we were really limited to quadrants and sextants but with the introduction of the emerald scanner we now have a scanner that’s both precise and highly accurate and it allows us to produce full arch scans very very quickly this, of course, opens the door to all sorts of possibilities as it relates to digital scan we can now make that part of our digital orthodontic workflow or perhaps even our patient education workflow is we show them things like wear facets and the condition of their teeth in their mouth digital perspective. Of course, that also opens up bigger cases in the restorative sense. So the sky’s the limit now when it comes to digital intraoral creation of various restorations and pathways to better treatment
So I’ve just shown you a few of the possibilities and realities in my practice as it relates to having a fully integrated practice but as I grow I know that I'm going to be able to add on things as I see fit. Whenever I want to focus, for instance, more on Orthodontics I'll have the ability to do that with this Suite of Technologies. If perhaps I want to move over into more elaborate endodontic care, more surgeries, that sort of thing, I have all the tools available to me. So in a very real sense, this Suite of Planmeca Technologies is poised to grow with my practice and so I'm looking forward to in the coming years looking back upon that year and seeing “Oh my goodness we grew another 48% in the past year”. What a wonderful position it is to be in to see a practice grow like that and I have to credit the implementation of these technologies as a central piece of that growth.
Alex Touchstone, DDS, FICOI, is a recognized pioneer in chairside dental CAD/CAM technology — and one of the most sought-after educators in digital dentistry. He is the founder of LearnDigitalDentistry.com which provides interactive online training courses for dental professionals all over the world. He holds several U.S. and international patents and also shares his ideas through lectures and hands-on courses. Dr. Touchstone practices dentistry at Touchstone Dentistry in Hattiesburg, MS.