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Dental Tribune South African Edition

4 Interviews Dental Tribune South African Edition - March 2014 Chris Jenkins and Bridges MC. Dr Barry Freydberg, is a renowned expert on the internet, cloud technology, and digital dental technology, whose presentations have received critical acclaim at conferences in the United States of America and Europe. He will be presenting a talk on this subject at IDEM Singapore 2014. Dr Freydberg will cover a variety of topics including how to optimise a practice’s use of technology and the internet, eliminating paperwork, taking practice management to the Cloud, and using Facebook as a marketing tool DT SA: How important is the internet and technology to the modern dental practice? Dr Freydberg: It is critical on so many levels! I do not know where to begin. Our personal office records have been electronic for several years, as are the diagnostic radiographs, charts and so forth. In addition, the internet allows us to share data with specialists and other providers. We also use the internet for marketing and patient communication. When I see practices without electronic records and the use of the internet, I am frustrated for them, as I know what they are missing out on and how their lives would change if they embraced technology. Which are the three areas in which the internet can make the biggest impact on how a practice operates? There are really several arenas of internet usage. Today, marketing and communication to existing patients and to prospective patients has become of paramount interest to a practice. This includes the use of Facebook, Websites, Search Engine Optimization, electronic newsletters, patient education and convenience. I’d say the top three are Social Media, a Website which can attract patients, and SEO which leads patients to the Website. What would be your prediction for the next technology to make a big impact in dentistry? That’s a tough one. 3D imaging affordably and at higher resolutions than we have now will make us much better diagnosticians and clinicians. Also cost effective hard tissue lasers. The ultimate gains will be in genetic engineering and stem cell research. Let us not forget that 3-D impressions will reduce costs of materials and remakes, which will take over traditional impressions very quickly. How cost effective is it for a dental practice to implement the latest advances in internet and technology in terms of the equipment required and the related cost to the patient? Great question. We all think that technology and the internet costs money, when in reality it saves money. So, on the patient side it allows us to be more efficient for them, enabling us to be more competitive with our fees. Have you got a general feeling from patients about the increased use of internet and technology in a dental practice? With regards to whether they feel positive about it or are worried it could increase fees? I have never had a patient express concerns that fees will increase due to the use of technology or the internet. But we do get complements from patients on using technology. Everything from reduced radiation to texting appointment reminders are appreciated. We are currently in a tough economic climate worldwide. Why do you believe that there is a link between dentists using the latest technologies and profit when there is a big chance many patients will not go to the dentists to save money because of perceived higher costs due to the dentist becoming more technical? The tough economic climate is a problem for Interview: Dentistry working with the internet and technology Dr Barry Freydberg. all of us. So, we need to educate the patients how technology reduces costs. What is your view on the impact internet and technology is having on dentistry in growing economies such as South Africa? This begs a philosophical answer about technologies being introduced to an area which is just beginning to embrace technology. In a growing economy, technology “leapfrogs” into the latest technologies of today. This occurs faster than in highly technological regions of the world, where technology evolves on top of what already is being used. An example might be this. In the early 1990’s, the USA had analogue phone systems. It slowly evolved into digital phones and communications. In Russia at that time, there were barely any phones in homes. When they began to emerge, they didn’t go to analogue and then digital, they “leapfrogged” over the analogue and started at the digital level. This happens with all technologies. South Africa has roughly 3500 dentists and a total population of nearly 53 million (Census estimate 2013) people. A vast majority of the population live in urban informal settlements or townships with little infrastructure and those that live in rural areas often live very far away from the nearest healthcare facility. In addition, poverty is prevalent amongst these South Africans which makes it difficult for them to pay for dental care. Do you foresee that in a situation such as ours which is also similar to other African countries that digital dentistry and the use of the internet and new technology can provide dental care for these people with the help of the government? I have just returned from an amazing trip to SA a couple of weeks ago. I visited those areas with little infrastructure as well as rural areas and of course the big cities. The bottom line seems to be that mobile internet access will probably be the leader (smart phones and tablets) with desktop computers following. The government will do well to help fund and bring these technologies to the masses. Access to health care and health care education through technology will help the masses with digital clinical capabilities helping to reduce costs. I truly felt that visiting SA was a highlight of my life. I could feel that economic progress and equality was rapidly progressing but it will take time. DT “ ” The tough economic climate is a problem for all of us. So, we need to educate the patients how technology reduces costs. “ ” In a growing economy, technology “leapfrogs” into the latest technologies of today. This occurs faster than in highly technological regions of the world, where technology evolves on top of what already is being used.