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    14 things dentists should look forward to in 2018

    From advances in materials to new technology, 2018 looks to be a promising year for the dental industry.



    The practice’s IT security is an area where Dr. Flucke hopes to see more improvement.

    “It reminds me of the performance-enhancing drugs in sports and the Olympics,” Dr. Flucke says. “They come out with these drugs that can’t be detected. So, it’s a constant cat-and-mouse game. And the good guys, whether it’s ransomware or finding the next sports-enhancing drug, they’re always working at a deficit. How do you know to look for something when you don’t know what it is you’re looking for? It’s like that with security. For instance, if somebody asks, ‘Have you ever had a data breach?’ I always say, ‘Not that I’m aware of’ because the best data breaches you never know about.”

    The data breach isn’t so much about stealing a patient’s dental history. Instead, the attackers are interested in patients’ health records because it opens the door to identity theft.

    “What the hacker cares about is that they have Mrs. Johnson’s first and last name, her date of birth, her Social Security number, her spouse’s name, her address, her cell phone number, her email address,” Dr. Flucke says. “Healthcare records are really coveted.”

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    While he expects advances in security tools, he hopes 2018 is the year dental professionals will pay more attention to it.

    “There are going to be improvements in this from a detection standpoint, but really what I’d like to see is people taking this more seriously,” Dr. Flucke says. “What the bad guys have figured out is that healthcare is really, really open and ripe for picking.”

    His concern is especially pointed at those practices with old and outdated systems that haven’t been properly upgraded and improved.

    “Spend $500 or $1,000 and have somebody that knows something about IT security come in, look at your office, tweak your routers, and install some type of a hardware firewall or something,” he recommends.

    Dental economy

    “I feel that the dental economy is starting to rebound,” Dr. Flucke says. “The market for dentistry has been pretty much flat since the recession. It looks like things are starting to improve and I’m hopeful that will continue.”

    That trend, he says, goes hand-in-hand with the larger economy.

    “I think that people are finally starting to realize that the world is not going to end,” Dr. Flucke says. “That whole mess of 10 years ago with big investment companies going under, I think that really scared people. I think they were scared for quite a while and a lot of people got away from dentistry.”

    He observes that the number people who dropped from two visits a year down to just one visit a year has skyrocketed. Seventy percent of adults in the United States only see a dentist once a year, he notes.

    “In that regard, people are starting to see that you reap what you sow,” Dr. Flucke says. “People that have been putting it off are now starting to come in and say, ‘Oh my gosh, if I would’ve only bucked up and had two cleanings a year, now I wouldn’t have to pay for all this neglect. I think things are starting to rebound now.”

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    Educational events

    Dr. Flucke hopes physical attendance at educational events will improve.

    “I’m hoping educational events will improve in attendance,” Dr. Flucke says. “Major meeting attendance is down as is attendance at CE events in general. Not everything can be learned online. There is no substitute for good, live CE. Unfortunately, the debt that graduates are under does two things. Number one, it limits what they can spend on CE, and number two, it forces many into corporate dentistry, which is more concerned with the bottom line than with doctors learning how to provide the absolute best treatment. This means corporate dentists frequently aren’t allowed to attend CE events the company doesn’t approve.”

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    Robert Elsenpeter
    Robert Elsenpeter is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to Dental Products Report and Digital Esthetics. He is also the author ...


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