|Greg Sconce is a kind of unassuming guy. I met Greg at one of the national dental meetings. His simply laid out booth looked kind of intriguing to me so I walked up and asked Greg what it was all about. What I learned was pretty interesting.
It turns out that since 1993, Infostar has been producing dental related videos for patients to watch in the dental office. Even before the early days of Caesy® (now owned by Patterson), Greg was encouraging dentists to use video to help build their practices.
Of course, in those days, video meant a VCR and a TV screen. Greg's idea was to produce a custom video production for use in the dentist's reception room (or waiting room as we used to call it in the old days). The video would introduce the patient to the practice in a very non-threatening way.
Information about the doctor and the staff, along with animations and videos covering various dental procedures were all professionally produced into a polished product that ran about 25 minutes. The dentist's own before and after cases could also be included. No audio was used so patients were not disturbed if they just wanted to read a magazine or look out the window.
Dentists discovered that the videos made their patients feel more at home in the dental office. They found that patients were reminded about questions they needed to ask about their dental concerns and wants.
Whitening requests increased and patients even asked about how they could improve their smiles, even if the staff "never got around to asking" those important questions. Dentists were amazed at how a simple video presentation was responsible for a noticeable increase in case production. They started to tell their colleagues about the product and a few years later Greg had over 2 thousand dental customers using his product. This product, now known as the Dental Showcase is as popular today as it ever was.
Patient Presentations on Steroids
Fast forward to 2006, more than half of dentists in the US have computers in their treatment rooms. Computers with monitors placed so patients can see intraoral pictures, digital before-and-after imaging, digital x-rays, perio and restorative charts.
Marketing is very much a part of the cost justification of the typical operatory computer. "A picture's worth a thousand words", especially if the patients problem tooth is magnified enough to fill a video screen. The tools were all in place for the patient to "discover" their dental problems.
Once the patient "owned" their problem the next step in the process is for the patient to learn and understand the solutions. Even though high tech tools were used to help the patient learn about their true condition, many dentists were still using old school methods of explaining treatment options like drawing diagrams, or simply verbally explaining the patient's options.
Greg's idea was to take the library of dental content he had accumulated over a dozen years and use it as a basis for a new dental patient education software system. The product would be designed from the ground up as a tool for the dentist and staff members to help patients better understand their dental condition and the treatment options available. The product would be designed from the ground up as an interactive presentation tool for use in face to face interaction between dentist or team member and patient.
Greg decided the best thing to do would be to get a group of 25 of his best customers together to discuss how they were solving these problems now and how they would design a computer based patient presentation system that would meet their needs. Several customers were already using tools like Caesy or other video based systems.
When Greg asked these dentists how they used these video products the answer came back emphatically that no the dentist did not use these tools, the staff used them prior to any discussion with the patient about treatment by the dentist.
Adding the Interactive Component
Caesy originally was released on DVD and later migrated to having the option of playing videos on a computer network by adding a "video server" pc to the office network. The main function of this product, and many other dental patient education products of the time, was to play a video selection for the patient to watch. Usually, this would occur without the dentist in the room.
While videos were great to get dental concepts across to patients, Greg's customers felt that there was a missing element that was needed to allow the dentist to directly interact with the patient as treatment options were explored.
The Concept of an "Interactive" Patient Presentation Was Born
The principal of co-diagnosis involves a process of the patient and dentist working together to understand the condition at hand and work together to come up with a solution. Many of Greg's customers said they wanted shorter presentations on specific topics that could be paused on demand. They liked the idea of being able to point and draw on the screen. The idea of printing or emailing the patient's presentation or even copying to a cd so the patient could communicate with another family member about the proposed treatment solution was requested.
Greg's customers liked the fact that their reception room videos were customized with their own before and after cases, and asked Greg if they could pull from a library of their own cases in the new dental patient education software as well. The ability to handle informed consents efficiently was a common request.
And, knowing that sometimes it is still practical to just let a patient watch a video or a series of videos regarding their treatment options, a complete video library was a must for the new product. Of course, the ability to operate on the existing computer network without the need for any additional equipment to be tied to the network was mentioned frequently.
Well, needless to say, Greg came back to the office with a set of product criteria that was daunting to say the least. Greg knew it would take time but he knew it could be done. Greg has some real "video wizards" on his development staff at Infostar, and their recent experience designing "Flash Enabled" dental websites would become a crucial competitive advantage as the new product took shape.
Years ago when Caesy was designed the type of video and animation compression technology was limited. To deliver effective dental patient education videos it had to be compressed and sent over the computer network to a local PC buffer and then played back by the local pc. The content was huge and required a separate hard disk based video server computer to handle the amount of content required.
With the advent of the internet, Greg knew that better technology existed today to deliver high quality video. The technology is known as Flash and it was Greg's ace in the hole allowing him to design and deliver a dental patient education software system to the market in less than 6 months. Greg's customers loved the product, and of course had numerous suggestions for improvement. The product was revised from the bottom up and recently released to the market as the "Dental SideKick".
At that dental meeting I could sense Greg's excitement as he went over the features of the product, its easy interface and the interactive features that allowed a dentist to make effective patient presentations quickly. As a dental integrator I had sold several different patient education systems to my dentist customers, including Caesy back when it was sold through independent dealers.
As I began to realize what Greg and his development team had created I couldn't help myself, I had to say it. What I said was "WOW!" Greg said "Yea, that's the reaction we hear most often--WOW!"
A few of Dental SideKick's features include:
• 30 dental patient education videos with English or Spanish narration, which can be played individually or added to a custom play list.
• Over 300+ interactives which include animations or short videos where needed. Each interactive can be paused and the dentist can point or draw as needed.
• From any interactive screen the corresponding dental patient education video can be accessed by a single click.
• Each interactive can optionally be narrated in English or Spanish.
• Each interactive includes a informed consent statement for the patient to read or an optional narration can be played. The form can then be printed ready for the patient's signature.
• Interactives can be emailed, printed, burned to cd, or linked to from the dentist's website (available optional web link package required)
• 16 assorted before and after smile makeover cases are included and any or all of these cases can be replaced with the dentist's own patients' photos.
With such an extensive and comprehensive list of features, Greg's new dental patient education software system could have easily become a geeky mess to operate. With years of experience working with dentists and their staff, Greg knew who his audience was and he designed a user interface that almost runs itself. Press the help button and 3 tutorial movies are available to teach you and your staff how to use the system.
Easy Panel User Interface
Dental SideKick includes the revolutionary "Easy Panel" user interface. The concept is based on the fact that all options for getting to any part of the program need to appear on the operator panel for easy access at all times, thus the "Easy Panel" interface.
||Down the left side of the screen are selections for all the areas of the program.
As each selection is made, a graphic panel of sub-options appears across the top of the presentation area. As any of these items are selected another single row of buttons appears corresponding to the individual interactives.
Dental patient education videos can be selected all from one screen with an alphabetical grid of graphic icons for each of the 28 choices.
A selection is easily made to pull up all the before and after case presentations as well.
There is even a drop down box that lists every interactive in a single alphabetical list for quick access to any section of the program. Greg listens to his customers and the Dental SideKick dental patient education software system has quickly evolved to be an easy-to-use, yet powerful patient presentation system. As Greg likes to say: "The Dental SideKick is a third generation chairside interactive product."
Learn How You Can Try The Dental SideKick In Your Practice
Caesy is a registered trademark of Caesy Education Systems, A Patterson Company