Why smart consumers will determine the future of dentistry

Patients are now selecting dental care providers based on outcomes and values.

In today’s dental world, unless you have a deep understanding of exceptional patient experience, you more than likely will find yourself out of business in a few years. Why? Because a seismic shift is occurring from dentists in control to patients in control.

This is made possible by the explosion of technologies-cloud computing, wireless sensors, Big Data and mobile devices. These technologies are shifting the buying power from dental producers, whose work was control of their patients, to increasingly smarter and smarter patients, moving control from the dentist to the patient. Those in the business of dentistry who fail to grasp what is occurring will totally miss the future. Those who understand how to satisfy a very smart patient will realize success in the future.

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Dentists and their organizations need to wake up. Patients don’t have to get much smarter. We’re now in an era of digital technology that increasingly is about machine learning systems along with machine-to-machine communication. No conscious human intervention is needed. The scale of patient data (clinical, historical, comparison data) will become massive, ultimately giving the patient immediate information and individual power on an unparalleled level.

Also, dentists and their organizations must realize you have two sets of customers: the dental benefits companies and the patients. Both, because of technology, will be informationally linked. These two customers “sets” want to select their dental care providers based on outcomes and value. And before long, patients will just need to tap the “dentist app” on their phones to get the information they need to make their selection.

As the patient becomes more consumer-savvy, aided and abetted by his or her insurance company, a “patsumer,” patients who think and act like smart consumers, will emerge to determine the future of dentistry.