Frequent continuing education, remaining current on the scientific literature, and embracing new and clinically relevant technology are foundational pillars of professional growth. Knowing when to invest in the latest technology can be challenging. Price is certainly one consideration in technology integration, but not the primary or sole consideration. For many clinicians, of greater concern is the natural caution to ensure that new technology delivers both the intended benefit efficiently and, at the same time, in a cost-effective manner. The interviews that follow describe the introduction of the new and novel Sonendo® device into the endodontic specialty practices of Dr. Thomas Jovicich (TJ) of Encino, California; Dr. Randy Garland (RG) of Encinitas, California; and Dr. Khang Le (KL) of Santa Ana, California. These doctors share what a transformative difference the GentleWave™ system is making in their daily practice.
After making the decision to purchase but prior to installation, what were your ROI expectations around those important investments?
TJ — Being an early adopter definitely poses some challenges. I believe having your entire team on board in the process mitigates the hurdles. In my experience, the technology and what it brings to my practice supersede any hiccups. While ROI is important, I’m focused on how this technology will make me a better clinician. Doing anything with the focus on ROI interferes with using that technology as a part of my armamentarium. Excellence in care and service will always meet or exceed my expectations as it relates to my ROI on new technology in our practice.
RG — My expectation with the GentleWave system is that my practice will grow significantly as more and more general dentists are educated on the significant improvement that this system provides in endodontic therapy.
KL — I did not expect to have any positive ROI right after the purchase because it would take both time and effort to first do the marketing and then see the numbers that would indicate any improvement in cost savings. But my rationale for purchasing or leasing the device is to achieve the best clinical outcome and treatment comfort for my patients. Once this is accomplished, then everything else will take care of itself in a positive way. In regards to ROI, I hope to use less endodontic rotary files and time to complete a root canal treatment procedure and still have good or even better results than as if I didn’t have the device. I will have the peace of mind that the procedure was done to the best level without compromising anything.
Once the technology was fully in place, did it meet those initial expectations?
RG — In only a couple of months with the GentleWave system, I’ve already added two new referring offices. These are doctors that have been referring to a competitor for years. Its potential to improve success rates and decrease the incidence of root fractures are pretty easy selling points.
Getting your staff fully trained and comfortable with the use of new technology can be a significant undertaking for the practice overall. What did you do to ensure that this learning curve was as short as possible, and how did it go?
TJ — I make sure my staff is fully on board from day one. In order for anything to work in my practice, it first and foremost must be a team effort. I can have the greatest ideas, but successful implementation is totally dependent on working as a team.
RG — It’s very important to engage the staff in a new technology in a positive way. By educating them thoroughly in the advantages of having this in our office and encouraging them to take pride in the fact that they work in a cutting-edge practice, they get excited about learning how to use it. The more they know about how it works, what it does, and the benefits it provides to a patient, the more invested they become in the process.
KL — I did not do much to shorten the learning curve. Sonendo did an outstanding job by having its support personnel present in the office for the first few weeks, ready to train and/or troubleshoot any problems that arose from using the device.
KL — Technology is wonderful and essential in helping or enhancing the ability of the practitioner to achieve his or her goal. I totally embrace any new technology introduced to dentistry. However, the challenges are keeping up with the constantly changing technology introduced or updated by research and development, learning new skills to utilize it, and having the budget for the purchase. If there is enough sound research from reputable institutions proving the efficacy of the device, the credibility of that technology will be heightened, and it will take time. A good experience with the new technology in our practice is always a result of good training and support from the company that sells it. My experience with the GentleWave system from Sonendo has been outstanding because they have provided us with “white glove” service and support. Above all, they conducted excellent research projects to back the efficacy of their product and to introduce the endodontic community to something that is promising and a push to achieve better successful outcome.
Aside from providing a higher standard of patient care by utilizing the latest technology, what tools did you use to educate the patient on your investments?
TJ — That’s a great question. We host a study club for our referring dentists, so that is one avenue we pursue to educate the dentist. Our practice relations coordinator will reach out to our referring offices as well to educate the office staff about our technology. I will personally reach out to my referrals to discuss with them in person any new technology we incorporate. Often, we follow that up with a mass mailing to announce technologies that keep up in the forefront of our specialty. For our patients, we work to keep our website current on a daily basis. We use social media to present technology that we are excited about as well as asking our patients who have experienced it to use social media to share their good experiences with their network of friends and family.
RG — I explain when we are just about to use the GentleWave™, that this is a “special system that I will be using that uses multiple sound waves and irrigation fluids to clean out and disinfect their roots far better than the old way of doing root canals.” I keep it simple and offer to answer any questions they may have. Some patients show a lot of interest and ask detailed questions. I am also currently trying a public awareness campaign by placing an educational ad in a couple of local newspapers introducing this new technology and seeing if patients either call us or start asking their general dentists about it.
KL — Brochures lay out on the table in the reception area. They were also given to referring dentists so that they would learn about our new technology and, in turn, educate their patients.
How do they respond to that education?
TJ — Today’s patients crave information. They want to be involved as partners in their dental care and welfare. We want them to be an integral part of this journey. To date, we have had nothing but positive responses and feelings of surprise at how advanced our practice is. It has been my firm belief over my 29 years in practice that treating my patients as equals and speaking to them in plain English has reaped great dividends.
RG — I’ve found that most patients appreciate new technology more when they know more about it and tend to share that with their referring dentist. They also don’t seem to fuss about the price of treatment when they understand the value of what they are getting.
KL — So far, so good! One patient mentioned the GentleWave system and was excited to have the procedure. This patient did come from the GP referral.
Many successful endodontic practices have robust commu-nication strategies designed to build and maintain a steady stream of referrals. What did you do that was effective to leverage this new technology for the purpose of stimulating better business for your practice?
TJ — There is no one thing that is the “magic bullet” here. We try to get the word out over a multitude of fronts from educational videos to word-of-mouth from patient to patient.
RG — I did an educational seminar and sent brochures and patient education materials to my referring offices, as well as many that I am not currently working with. Dentists all seem to be interested in this new technology, even if they aren’t using it themselves.
KL— An invitation to a presentation (i.e., lecture and hands-on) about the new technology at my practice appeared to capture their interests.
How active was the manufacturer in helping you with this effort, and what tools did the company provide?
TJ — Manufacturer support, especially in nascent technology, is tantamount to success. Having great support staff is essential to getting things off the ground. Let’s not kid ourselves; technical snafus happen all of the time. What makes it bearable is being able to reach out to the manufacturer for a quick answer or go on a website to find the answer. It’s readily apparent when you don’t have good support; then the technology hinders my practice, and my willingness to use it decreases.
RG — Sonendo was instrumental in helping me with my presentation to educate my referring doctors. They have also provided me with brochures and other educational materials for patients. Sonendo suggested doing a patient awareness campaign and assisted me in designing and implementing the ad that I am currently using. They are working on video material that I can use on my website to educate both patients and referring doctors.
KL — The design of patient brochures and the template of the PowerPoint GP referral presentation were very helpful.
Overall, what have been your primary motivational factors when considering and/or purchasing new technologies? Is it more about keeping up with the trends in order to be competitive, or being a leader ahead of it?
TJ — Being a leader in my field has been my motivation since day one. Any patient going to a specialist should be given platinum treatment. That entails offering the best possible patient experience from the moment the patients walk in the door to the moment they leave our practice. Offering our patients the latest and greatest technology is included in that experience. Treating the patient as an extension of our referring doctors’ practice has given me a very satisfying professional career.
RG — I have always chosen to try the latest technology so that I can provide the best treatment available for my patients. I do a lot of research on each one and select what will work best in my practice. The fact that this also seems to give me a competitive edge is a nice perk. Keeping up with the latest innovations also makes my work more enjoyable on a daily basis. Rather than getting bored with what I’m doing, I get excited about being involved with things that are improving my profession.
KL — Everything. From being the leader ahead of trends, keeping updated with modern technology, possible savings (time and money) in using the device, but above all, it works as proven by credible research.
These interviews have described the adoption of the GentleWave™ system by Sonendo®. Each, in his own way, powerfully describes the confidence and benefits gained from using the GentleWave™ in daily practice. These endodontists practice with confidence that the canal is being truly cleaned to a degree never before possible, while simultaneously providing the benefits of reducing treatment complexity, file costs, iatrogenic events, and patient and doctor stress — all the while gaining the real potential to improve treatment outcomes and the quality of their patients’ lives.
Sonendo has grown from a concept in 2006 to its limited commercial release today. The device is FDA cleared. Located in Laguna Hills, California.