When Dr. Sanjay Merchant purchased two dental clinics in December of 2019, he certainly did not expect he’d have to shut down for three months due to a pandemic. This less-than-ideal situation led him to refine logistical operations. Realizing what worked well for one office may not work as well for two, he sought a cloud-based digital imaging platform that would provide consistency and standardized processes for both of his offices.
Similar to many dental clinics, Southridge Dental Group originally operated on a server-based system, which proved challenging. Any time one office needed to replace a server, the other office needed to be replaced as well, doubling their costs.
Dr. Merchant ultimately decided on Planet DDS solution Apteryx XVWeb cloud imaging. With the integration of AI into Apteryx XVWeb, Southridge Dental Group is able to more easily detect decay, bone loss, periapical radiolucencies, and other oral health concerns.
Remarkably, Southridge Dental Group experienced a 15% production increase since adopting AI imaging in the last year, along with elevating the quality of patient care and communication. When patients can see where the AI has highlighted concerns, it’s easier for them to understand their doctors’ diagnosis and the need for treatment.
Standardized Patient Data for Clinical Consistency
With multiple doctors treating patients across two clinics, access to patient data using cloud-based, AI-enabled software has been essential for streamlining imaging workflows. Using Apteryx, imaging, clinical evaluations, X-rays and more are captured in a standardized format for referencing between providers and clinics. This helps Southridge Dental deliver greater consistency in their care.
“Apteryx standardizes my multiple providers and offices,” Dr Merchant explains. “We need to make sure everyone understands what they’re seeing radiographically. It’s so consistent in diagnoses between providers. A complication of having multiple providers is a patient can see multiple doctors within a span of a few appointments or a few years. We don’t want one doctor to undermine another doctor’s diagnosis, or for a doctor to miss something another doctor sees. Our business operation and patient quality of care are so consistent now that I could never go back to the old way of doing things.”
Dr. Merchant points to the exceptional ability of AI to detect conditions such as decay under crown margins, recurrent decay around fillings, new decay, and occlusal decay.
“With conditions that are maybe not to the point where we want to go ahead and do any type of dentistry like incipient decay, we can have a dialogue about it,” Dr. Merchant explains. “Because it’s all cloud-based, we can go ahead and just reference X-rays from the past as well. So if a patient comes in every six months, we show them images from six months ago and then today’s, and then in six months we’ll check again and we can overlay the AI between all three visits and they can see if the decay is growing. It’s such a powerful tool not just for them but for me as well, because interpreting decay with the human eye is inherently a very subjective thing. The more you can make it objective and measurable, then it reduces the chances of human error, and the chance of insurance denying the claim. It appeals to me because I’m a numbers and analytics guy. If I can quantify something, it’s just much easier for me to work with.”
Data-Based Communication with Patients and Providers
Whether communicating with patients or insurance providers, Apteryx supports and simplifies communication.
“Apteryx really helps on the insurance side,” says Dr. Merchant. “Insurance companies are notorious for denying claims or pretending things don’t exist on X-rays. Now there’s undeniable proof. They can clearly see proof of cavities or bone loss for example.”
Patient communication is also greatly improved, as color overlays allow patients to better visualize what doctors are telling them. Dr. Merchant finds it helps patients be more engaged and empowered in making decisions, and also helps increase trust in their doctors.
“Patients are going to question what you’re saying, and this gives them the ability to better understand and see proof of what their doctors and hygienists are telling them,” says Dr. Merchant. “In the past, I’d tell them they have a cavity, for example, and they’d just have to believe me. Or we’d show X-rays without AI, and it’s just a bunch of shapes in black and white to them. Now with color overlay, they can immediately understand and accept that treatment is needed without any doubt.”
Increase Staff Productivity by Leveraging Innovative Tools with a “Wow Factor”
With technology innovations changing nearly every industry, Dr. Merchant was an early adopter and quickly recognized the importance of keeping pace with new technologies for dentistry. New and innovative technologies were particularly interesting to Dr. Merchant if they delivered on the promise to optimize how his doctors worked.
“The wow factor is there for my staff and me,” says Dr. Merchant. “It makes me excited to look at X-rays because I want to see what the AI is showing. This is the next frontier in dentistry, and I think we’re just getting to the tip of the iceberg.”
Dr. Merchant and his doctors find that Apteryx provides a comprehensive view, and they can toggle annotations on or off based on the information they want and need to see.
“You can interact with AI to get decision support. Looking at two pathologies, you’ll have the findings, annotations, and decision support,” explains Dr. Merchant. “It’s as if you’ve just finished a new study without you having to do anything. AI is the partner in the background processing and studying all the images with progression, sending back the annotations and findings to us. As a result, we receive the feedback we need to help support our decisions.”
What Can AI Do for Your Dental Clinic?
Dr. Merchant believes it’s a great time to be a dentist because of the technology all dentists have access to now. He’s realistic about the fact that it may take some convincing for doctors to change how they’ve always done things or to transition from older technologies they may already be comfortable with.
“I’m an early adopter of many technologies in dentistry, so I was ready to try AI,” Dr. Merchant says. “With any tech, I see what works and what doesn’t. An objection I often hear from other dentists is them questioning what AI can do that their eyes cannot do. The answer to that is: It depends. For me, it’s helpful because it standardizes multiple offices and providers. It’s more consistent with what you’re seeing radiographically. Once you try it, there’s no going back.”
For more information about Apteryx XVWeb, AI, and any Planet DDS solutions, click here to book a demo. Our reps will work with you to understand what your specific requirements are and will make recommendations based on your specific business setup and long-term objectives.
Download the case study here: Southridge Dental Success Story