New Tech at the Dental Office

May 02, 2017

by Jacob Drucker

New technology has reached every facet of our lives, from the way we make our coffee in the morning to how we consume the news late at night. We don’t watch TV the way we did twenty years ago. We don’t listen to music the way we did even a decade ago. And we don’t even use transportation the way we did five years ago. And in so many ways, the office, even the dental office, is getting its makeover, too.

Heck, even the historic Merchandise Mart is rapidly changing. Located in downtown Chicago, the building has a long history of serving as a hub for interior design and furniture showrooms. It feels like more of a squat fortress than an office building, appropriate for wide showrooms. The Mart began housing government offices during WWII, after which it was converted back to retail and design by President Kennedy.

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The Merchandise Mart has in recent years attracted a growing contingent of technology firms. Marketing companies, payment processors, and startup incubators can all be found in the Mart. Today, Supply Clinic is one of the hundreds of tech firms and startup companies headquartered there, where ornate rug displays blend seamlessly with coffeeshops selling kale smoothies.

So just as showroom floors are open spaces, so too are most tech workspaces. Open floorplans, rather than cubicles, prevail. The old trappings of traditional offices- cubicles, red staplers, and desk phones, don’t have much of a place in the new office. Instead, long tables and glass walls prevail. 

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Dental offices, too, aren’t immune from changing technologies. Lasers, CAD/CAM machines, and digital treatment plans are revolutionizing everything from capital expenditures to dental lab needs. Some dental offices don’t even resemble what they were thirty years ago.

But some of the biggest shifts have nothing to do with dental technology, per se. We at Supply Clinic still run into the occasional dental office that doesn’t have internet access, or even a computer. But for every one that resists going online, ten are reaching out to their communities through email marketing and engaging their patients with social media. Dr. Ed Zuckerberg leads the field in promoting social media use among dental clinics.

Office functions are also shifting. Following the lead of other businesses, dental offices are increasingly using virtual phone services, or even chat systems that plug into their websites, allowing patients to just type away with their office staff.

Electronic medical records have physically changed office spaces, as former file rooms are now used for everything from seeing more patients to storing excess office supplies. Scheduling, billing, marketing, and communication no longer require bulky notebooks or fax machines.

There’s no telling what will come next (but if Supply Clinic has a say in the matter, it’ll be inventory management).

Merchandise Mart photo credit: Matthew Maule

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