Dr. John Flucke: Looking forward, looking back on dental technology predictions for 2014

June 10, 2014

I was talking to my Group Editorial Director Kevin Henry the other day and he happened to mention that we are now closing in on the halfway point of 2014. Think about that for a minute, I’ll wait…

I was talking to my Group Editorial Director Kevin Henry the other day and he happened to mention that we are now closing in on the halfway point of 2014. Think about that for a minute, I’ll wait…

OK. That’s a bit frightening, right? I mean, if you’re like me (and if you are, I apologize in advance), it seems like you just took the Christmas lights down last week. However, as we have been living our lives, seeing our patients, hugging our families, time has literally been flying by.

In December of last year, several of my friends began to suggest doing a “prediction” article for 2014 in Dental Products Report. The concept being what I thought might be important topics to be aware of for the upcoming year. Now I have to admit it, but I was a bit hesitant to do that article. 

The problem with prediction articles is that if they go wrong all of the author’s mistakes are right out there in the open for the world to see. Add to that our digital age, and not only are they public, but they are very public and very permanent. But guilt being what it is, I went ahead and wrote it anyway.

However, I received a lot of good feedback from that article, and that made the risk worth it.  So much so, in fact, that this month, let’s review some of the topics from January and also take a look at topics I see as growth categories for the rest of the year.

1. Backups

Good backups never go out of style and that is why it’s number one on this list.  Since I mentioned backups in my Top Ten in January I’ve had somewhere between 5-10 contacts with doctors who have had either questions or, worse yet, problems with backups… and those are just the people who have reached out to me.

At this point in time, I feel the best investment you can make in backing up is from a company called DDS Rescue. When I mentioned it in my Top 10 for 2014 article, this is what I had to say:

There’s also the most amazing office backup system that I have ever seen-so much so in fact that it is the winner of the Pride Best in Class award for two consecutive years.

DDS Rescue is a self-contained computer that is shipped to your office by Liptak Dental and plugs into your network via standard network cabling. A program is then installed on your server that allows the DDS Rescue system to see the server on the network and connect to it.

The DDS Rescue system creates multiple bootable backups of your data onsite. However, that’s only half of the amazing part. The other half is that these same bootable backups are uploaded to the cloud and stored in a secure server farm.

If a disaster ever befalls your office, these bootable backups can be accessed, giving you access to your data. My buddy, Dr. Marty Jablow, lost power in his New Jersey office in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, but he was able to stay in contact with his patients thanks to DDS Rescue.

That information is just as true today as it was 6 months ago. The DDS Rescue system is running in my office as I type this and I sleep a lot better knowing that. While it isn’t the only link in my “backup chain” it certainly is an important one… and one I wouldn’t want to be without.

2. Headlights & Surgical Telescopes

I’m on a one man mission to change magnification terminology in dentistry. We wear Surgical Telescopes. We do not wear “loupes”! The term “loupes” comes from the circular headband with flip-up/flip-down magnifiers worn by jewelers and in other industries where low cost magnification is needed. The amount of expertise and technology needed to create the surgical telescopes we use surpasses by several orders of magnitude what is needed to create “loupes”.

Since January of this year I’ve seen and used several surgical telescope prototypes that are going to create a buzz in the industry when they are released.

While I’m not at liberty to discuss why these prototypes are game changers (I have signed confidentiality agreements), suffice it to say that if you are as big a fan of magnification as I am… well you ain’t seen nothing yet!

Also, LED lighting systems continue to evolve and improve. At this point I am comfortable predicting the death of the track light. Despite the fact that track lights will continue to be sold and purchased for the next few years, you heard it here first. Just like video killed the radio star.

This is definitely an area in our profession that will see growth and product evolution for several years.

Click here to learn more about Dr. Flucke's predictions for visual diagnosis and HIPAA.

3. Visual Diagnosis

While you could probably put digital radiography and cone beam into this category, I’m going to leave them out, strictly because while visual they are a bit different in that they use radiation. However there are products on the market that use non-ionizing visible light to show the operator where the caries is… without even touching the tooth.

Devices such as the Air Techniques Spectra, the ACTEON North America SOPROCARE, the Carestream CS 1600, The Canary System, and the newest player in the market, the DEXIS CariVu.

All of these devices allow you to take and store photographic images of a tooth. Depending on the extent of the lesion you are seeing, you may choose to restore, monitor, or re-mineralize the tooth based on clinical judgement and patient history in the practice. These devices can catch problems at sizes or in areas that would be difficult or impossible to detect with an explorer.

If a doctor chooses to monitor or attempts to remineralize, visual monitoring of the lesion means it is easier and quantifiable to see if the area is getting larger, remaining static, or shrinking due to re-mineralization.

This is an interesting area in the profession and has seen significant R&D in the last 6-7 years.

4. HIPAA

This is definitely an area that has grown, even since January and it is only going to continue to grow.  In addition to the security of our patients’ data, we need to be concerned about exposing protected health information via email. 

At this point, sending unencrypted emails that contain protected health information is a violation of HIPAA. Offices no longer have a choice you must have a HIPAA compliant email solution.

Currently there are two dental companies that offer this type of email. One is Aspida and the other is Brightsquid.

There is no longer an issue of “when” an office should begin using encrypted email. The answer to “when” is “Now!!!”

So that’s it for the Flucke Crystal Ball in June 2014. The only constant is change… and rest assured I’ll be rummaging through the corridors of R&D to find more info that will help you in your quest to be the very best. 

About the author

John Flucke, DDS, is Technology Editor for Dental Products Report and dentistry’s “Technology Evangelist.” He practices in Lee’s Summit, Mo., and has followed his passions for both dentistry and technology to become a respected speaker and clinical tester of the latest in dental technology, with a focus on things that provide better care and better experiences for patients. He blogs about technology and life at blog.denticle.com

This article originally appeared in the June 2014 issue of Dental Products Report. For more great articles about products in action, click here to subscribe to DPR: http://bit.ly/17ocF5z