I plan to make this a yearly post, I’d like to look at the trends and technology that our company feels will impact the dentistry in the next 2,5,and 10 year periods.
Dentistry in Two Years
In the next two years, you will begin to see a slow move to more IoT devices. The Internet of Things isn’t going away It is estimated that 50,000 new devices per day get connected to the internet in the US alone! The devices we expect to see in the practice in this time frame will be primarily related to supply chain ordering and inventory. Radio Frequency ID tags are already present in many packaged items and it will be a simple task to interface supply carts and cabinets for automatic inventory tracking and re-order of supplies.
The use of APP based software on mobile devices will increase as well, with more and more simple phone/tablet based applications to assist with insurance issues, after procedure care, reminders and prescribing.
A move back from the Cloud to in-house servers is also likely due to a massive cloud breach. HHS/OCR will continue to grow and seek to audit more small practices.
Dentistry in Five Year
Five years out we expect to see the number of laptops and workstations in the practice shrink dramatically. These will be replaced with handheld devices. Check-in will be accomplished with facial recognition or retina scanning. More clinical devices including handheld imaging options will become part of the Internet Of Things. In fact device manufacturers will more than likely be acquired by software companies or vice-versa. Inter-operability between software and devices from different vendors will likely become an issue that will affect patient care and security. Your chairs, Autoclaves, Drills and anesthetic delivery systems will all communicate with your management software. Every aspect of the patient visit from appointment through followup will be closely monitored.
Of course every time one device is interfaced with another or devices are communicating with the practice management/EHR software, it creates a potential vulnerability. Each point of contact and communication will require proper policy and security scrutiny. Policy and Procedure will become a continuously evolving aspect of compliance, as the cost of streamlined patient care and a lower staff/patient ratio.
In the next five years the largest security threat will continue to be ransom based attacks. More sophisticated ransomware products will plague business for the forseeable future. Social Engineering will also continue to rise as a method of gaining sensitive information. Mobile device theft and loss causing breaches will explode.
Dentistry in 10 years and beyond
Ten Years from now is a tough call. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is certain to play a huge role in healthcare and dentistry. The potential of AI to become a real technological force. Will now possible because of gains in processing power and storage space cost reductions. What will AI do for the dental practice? We envision AI as part of the PM/EHR software. The AI agent will be capable of taking and confirming appointments. Also ensuring no medication interactions are possible and that all billing codes are in place for maximum reimbursement.
AI could also be used to monitor procedures using machine vision. Guiding the practitioner to ensure maximum quality of care and avoiding mistakes, especially with anesthesia. Artificial Intelligence products are still in their infancy so it is difficult to determine security risks at this time.
So what will dentistry of the future look like? To the patient it will not appear much different. Although care will be quicker and mistakes in procedures, pharmacy, and billing will be far fewer. For the practice owner? Savvy practitioners will begin bringing multiple specialties together. With technology and compliance with regulatory bodies as the bonding force.
imagine a “Full Service” oral health practice, with not only General Dentists but Orthodontists, Endodontists, and Oral Surgeons all in-house. Advances in the technological landscape will enable minimal support staff. With recent leaps in 3-D printing technology. This will create the ability to quickly produce crowns, entire sets of dentures and implants on- premises! These will create profit centers that were previously unavailable to the small practice.
We foresee all of these things in healthcare and dentistry in the next decade. Will they all come to pass? Probably not since after all I am still waiting for my flying car.