Dr. Michael Acierno, President & Chief Medical Officer of DecisionOne Dental Partners, and Florian Hillen, CEO of VideaHealth, discuss artificial intelligence in the dental industry.
The discussion covers:
- What inspired Florian Hillen to leverage AI in the dental field?
- Find out how dental AI fits into Dr. Acierno’s vision of modern dentistry.
- How VideaHealth translates into real-world benefits for dentists and patients.
- First-hand experience using AI for patient education.
- Using AI to scale up and maintain high standards of care.
- The future of AI and dentistry
- Much more
To learn more about VideaHealth visit https://www.videa.ai/
To schedule a demo of VideaHealth visit https://www.videa.ai/demo
To learn more about DecisionOne Dental Partners visit https://www.decisiononedental.com/
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I’d like to welcome everybody back to the Group Dentistry Now Show. I’m Bill Neumann, and as always, thanks for watching us on YouTube. You might see us on Group Dentistry Now, or you might be just listening to us on Google, Spotify, or Apple, but thanks for joining us today. We always have great guests. We appreciate everybody’s support. So, we are going to talk today about something that is up until I’d say the past couple of years, wasn’t really talked much about in the dental industry and now it seems like we can’t get away from it. So, we’re going to talk about dental AI and dental AI has actually hit the big time. We have Florian Hillen with us who’s the CEO and founder of VideaHealth, and he actually was just on Fox Business recently, so certainly we appreciate you joining us on little old Group Dentistry Now. We also have Dr. Michael Acierno, who you may know. You’ve seen him probably at dental meetings before. He is with DecisionOne Dental Partners. He’s actually the president and chief medical officer there, so thank you both for joining us today.
Florian Hillen & Dr. Michael Acierno:
Thank you for having us.
So, maybe we start things off simply we’ll start with you Michael. Could you tell the audience a little bit about your background and then also a little bit about the DecisionOne Dental Partners?
Dr. Michael Acierno:
Absolutely. My name’s Dr. Michael Acierno. I am a general dentist and co-founder with my brother of DecisionOne Dental Partners in Chicago, Illinois. We were founded in 2012. We’re up to 40 practices now on the Chicago land area and Wisconsin, and we have a strategic partnership with Smile Brands out of California. We are what’s considered a DSO, so we’re doctor led and that’s our culture. We really, really provide the back end in the dental practices.
So the marketing, all the business stuff, the headaches we like to say of the dental office. We try and take the doctor and the doctor leads his practice and his or her practice, and that’s how we are. Each of our practices are individual, they have their own culture, they have their own… We’re not name brand or anything like that, and we like that community feel that those real general practices… We don’t want to take that away from any of our practices. So, we’ve developed that in 2012. I’m still full-time chairside and I’m the president and the chief medical officer, so I’ve got a plateful.
So, what are your duties as the president and chief medical officer? I know you have to keep it succinct here, so I’m sure you probably do quite a bit.
Dr. Michael Acierno:
Well, anything clinical falls onto my plate. My brother, who’s the other co-founder, he’s the CEO, so a lot of business stuff falls under his. Obviously, we do both just because he’s a general dentist too, but a lot of the clinical falls on me, so a big part of my job is mentoring our doctors. We do a lot of new grad hires, which I love. So, anything clinical really falls under my plate.
That’s great. That’s why you’re here today to talk about dental AI with Florian. Florian, same that I asked Michael, a little bit of your background and then talk about VideaHealth please.
Yeah, so my background is that I’ve been all my life so far in healthcare and technology. Funny enough, I actually studied for several years medicine and then dropped out of med school to fund my first company in the gynecology space and then was in the cardiology space and now in the dental space. So, my background is that I always loved to advance healthcare across different domains, but then early on I realized that technology can be a great means to an end in order to achieve better patient outcomes and improve processes, et cetera. So, that’s why I wanted to understand that side of the coin better, and so that’s why I went then to MIT to study computer science in what we call now AI or how we call it, machine learning. And so, I have this healthcare background and then also I did a lot of machine learning at MIT.
And number three, I was a consultant for a short while at McKinsey & Company where I was also in the healthcare domain, assessing businesses and how we can improve outcomes. And so, all of this together led me to found VideaHealth in 2018 after doing two years of research at MIT in the intersection of AI and healthcare. Now, talking a little bit about VideaHealth, why did I do that? So during my time, I looked actually at all the different verticals of healthcare, radiology, dermatology, et cetera, and what became pretty clear to me early on is that I truly believe that AI can have an as big or even a bigger impact on our society in Dentistry than in other healthcare domains. And the reason is that if we define impact, and we will talk about this, that the AI and the dentists together can significantly increase patient outcomes by identifying disease earlier and getting treatment acceptance earlier.
We will talk about this extensively, I assume, so you have a meaningful impact on a patient. And then at the same time, every one of us goes to the dentist, obviously us three go to the dentist and everyone in the audience, as well as the majority of Americans are going at least once a year, hopefully twice to the dentist regularly. So, I think it’s incredibly meaningful to build a company where you feel you can have a meaningful impact on every patient’s life, and then essentially everyone in the United States is a patient of ours. So, that’s why I found Videa with this vision and mission in mind.
Thanks, Florian, and I think initially I met you really early on at an ADA meeting when you were either pre-launch or launching the business. Michael, so I think you mentioned DecisionOne Dental Partners was founded in 2012, is that correct?
Dr. Michael Acierno:
Okay, and actually I was looking back. I know we’ve done a couple articles on Group Dentistry Now on DecisionOne, and you were a 2018 Emerging Group to Watch winner, now you’re at 40 practices, you partnered with Smile Brands, let’s talk a little bit about the growth that you’ve had and then how did you determine that dental AI was a fit for your organization and how does that fit into your vision of modern dentistry?
Dr. Michael Acierno:
Sure. Well, one thing that my brother and I decided very early on when we created DecisionOne Dental was that we wanted to be in the forefront of dentistry. It’s a fine line, I always say, in accepting the new technology and everything out there and not jumping on wagon of every new fad that comes along in dentistry. We make it very clear at our company that we really, really want all our clinicians on the forefront of the technology. And so, we do a lot of due diligence on some of the important technologies that are out there and well, AI was one that I’ve been looking at for probably about three and a half years when I met Florian. Dental AI has been in the dental field for a long time and some of us dentists don’t realize it, and if you’re using clear aligners or you’re using any marketing, dental AI, it’s been there. Now, it’s coming to the forefront of us clinically using it.
And that’s what really struck my interest because anything that I can put in front of my clinicians and [inaudible 00:09:24] to help my patients better and make my patients healthier, I’m going to study it and look at it. And dental AI is one of those things where me and my brother both sat down three years ago and looked at it and said, “Wow, there’s something behind this,” and we did our due diligence and here we are now, and it has come light years in just the three years from when we first looked at it to where it is now. There is a huge place for it in dentistry. There’s a huge place for it in medicine, and we see that and we see medicine using it, and that’s what really struck our interest in, okay, hold on here, if medicine’s using it and improving patients’ lives, then definitely we have a use for it here in dentistry.
Thanks, Michael. You mentioned this a couple of times and maybe we should dig a little bit deeper. You talked about due diligence and as you’re evaluating dental AI, I’d love to know, what did that look like for DecisionOne Dental Partners? What is due diligence when you look at dental AI mean to you? Because I’m sure other DSOs that we have listening in and maybe watching or wondering what process you went through to evaluate VideaHealth.
Dr. Michael Acierno:
Absolutely, and Florian knows this, whenever I look at a new technology, I don’t just look at… There might be one company that comes to me and shows me something or we hear about it through the dental grapevine, and then I piques my interest and I look a little bit into it. I did that with dental AI. Dental AI came to me through medicine. I had friends in it that are physicians. I met Florian. Florian really struck my interest in it because of his background in medicine, and that made me go out there and research a lot of what dental AI was about at this point, and it was pretty fresh in the clinical aspect. What I did was went out and vetted a few different companies. I wanted to see what was out there, and I looked at technology.
Everyone thought about the same idea, but how they go about that idea or their platform is pretty different. So, we looked at a few different ones and Florian and VideaHealth really stuck out to me because not only did I like their platform at the time, but their vision and what their future looked like was something that really, really struck interest in me. Like I said, DecisionOne, we really pride ourselves at being in the forefront. I don’t want to be one of those dental offices or dental companies that is behind the times. I want to be in front of it. So, I want to use and do everything I can to help my patients, and that’s where I think it’s important to be in the DMO to really do my research and look at all the new technologies out there for us.
Great. Florian, talk a little bit about, again, Michael mentioned something about they don’t look at it… There are some dental fads out there, that’s for sure. I think we’ve determined that dental AI is not a fad, it’s here to stay, but I think a lot of people don’t necessarily understand what it is, and it might be a little overwhelming. You hear AI and your eyes may glaze over a little bit. So, Michael went through some of the due diligence. Let’s talk about VideaHealth’s performance and how that translates into real world benefits for the clinician and the patient. So we’ve got dental AI, but what does that look like to the practice and the patients?
Absolutely, and just before, I also want to give a shout out to our partners at DecisionOne as well as Mike in particular because if you introduce such new technologies into any dental practice, it always has to go hand in hand with the buy-in from the leadership team and certain change management. And so this really on the one side, we see us as developing and providing the best in class product, which goes around the AI algorithms, around the workflow of the software in terms of how easy it is to use.
But on the other side, we are also partners in supporting our customers in actually introducing the AI, visiting the offices, explaining how this AI changes maybe their workflows and how they can leverage it to get, for instance, higher case acceptance and then also work not just on the now of AI, but then also on the future of AI, and I just want to call out that DecisionOne has been great partners in that, and that’s really how I believe you make this really successful right now, and then also dental AI will develop very quickly in the next coming months even, so just to mention that. Now, Bill, about the benefits and what this all works and how this works.
I think on a high level, just to level set what we do is we’ve developed incredibly accurate AI algorithms based on millions and millions of data points to support the clinician in their diagnosis and treatment planning, to essentially… You take x-rays and the x-rays, they get automated source by software and then repopulate the dental x-rays with cavities, radiographic bone loss, and other types of diseases. Now, what are the benefits of that? I think right now with AI being a buzzword and ChatGPT and everything, there’s a common misconception, a little bit about it is the domain expert versus the AI in marketing or whatnot if you go on any of the newsletters. What really is the case though is it’s the domain expert, meaning the dentist or the hygienist together with AI, they’re using the benefits of both to provide a better level of care.
And so what I mean by that is that the dentist, and the hygienist clinician is phenomenal in years of training, lots of experience, knows the patient, has much more information holistically about the patient than potentially AI. They see the skin color, they know the history, they even know the demeanor of the patient if they are fearful of the dentist and whatnot. And now the AI, especially our AI has other benefits, and two benefits is for instance, that number one, Videa AI has been trained on 50 times as much data as the average dentist sees in their entire lifetime, and then also has been trained by over 100 dental experts, meaning they have been selected because they’re incredibly good at being diagnostician. So, every time that dentists together with our AI makes a diagnosis and treatment planning, it’s a little bit that they get accelerated by having 100 dentists, 100 experts who’ve seen 50 times as much data looking over their shoulder and supporting them.
And the second benefit is that the AI never has a bad day, it’s never tired, and it’s just consistent and it always shows the same results based on all that training data. So, now what is happening is that the dental clinician together with AI can use the benefits of both to provide a higher level of diagnosis and treatment planning, and what the benefits then are for the dentist and the patient is honestly, there are many, many benefits in terms of time savings, administrative tasks get reduced, et cetera, but the benefits I’m most excited about and why we founded the company and even why we named the company VideaHealth, which means by the way, we did it to improve for better health, is that it has a direct clinical measurable impact on the patient’s life, and that in two ways. Number one, the dentist as well as a hygienist plus AI can identify disease much earlier than either of them alone.
And number two, by offering a second opinion share site, it increases the patient-provider relationship and trust, and what that really leads to is to a much higher level of treatment acceptance. So, what we have been seeing with DecisionOne and with many other customers, thousands of dentists at this point, we are seeing a constant increase of treatment acceptance rate. And while this is relevant honestly for the financials of our customers, because a higher treatment acceptance rate across crowns, scaling, replaying procedures, fillings, et cetera, also means higher profits and EBITDA, but more important even, it means that the patients are getting the right care at the right time, and dental disease is not left untreated for too long.
And we all know that there’s a significant progression of disease, and so leaving it untreated for too long, will on the one side, then the significance of the dental disease and so a filling, you need a crown, and then the root canal in a couple of years, but also at some point it can have a significant impact on the overall health, like being correlated or even causing diabetes, hypertension, or other heart diseases. And so, I think that is what we are very excited at VideaHealth, and I think we’ve shown it with you, Mike, that we can achieve that results. We’ve shown it now with many other customers, and so it’s pretty powerful to see these results and these benefits then to the dentist, as well as to the patient in the chair. I am curious, Mike, if I throw this question to you as well, what you’ve been seeing as benefits and how you think about this as a dentist?
Dr. Michael Acierno:
We’ve talked a lot about this Florian, and one thing that Florian hit that I really want to make a point here, being a dentist and also being a mentor to dentists, you have to an open mind when you go into new technology and you have to accept that you cannot put a wall up and fight it because when that happens and you start thinking of reasons why this technology is bad or I don’t want to use it, then it just becomes, like we talked about, a fad or something like that. For instance, I always use it as an example digital x-rays. I, as you can see the gray in my beard, have been doing this for a while. So when I came out of school, there was no digital x-rays, it was all you dip your X-rays and you look at it and under the light and that was it.
And then when digital came out and started to get a little movement, there were a lot of dentists out there that put up walls and said, “There’s no way we need this. This is ridiculous, it’s expensive,” every excuse in the world, but the ones that looked at it and thought, “Wow, this is our future. You can see an x-ray better, you can zoom and you can use all different sorts of technology with it,” and the list goes on and on, it became the movement and it became just as important as your handpiece or a scaler or whatever you use. So, I use this as an example because dental AI is in that same realm. Whether we want to fight it or accept it, it’s going to help us and it’s helping our patients and we need to use it, and just like we accepted digital x-rays and now it’s in every practice, the majority, dental AI is here and it’s here to stay.
So why fight it? Get on board and accept it, and Florian, you brought up a great point. It’s not, okay, here’s dental AI and I have to use it and it’s going to take over my job. It’s a tool, it’s an adjunct. It’s just like your handpiece, your scaler, everything you use in dentistry. Here’s another tool for you to make your patients better. So, I guess it is a buzzword right now with AI and you hear all the good and the bad and boy is it evil. Me and Florian always joke, it’s like Terminator, they’re going to come in and take over the dental world. No, you have to look at it for what it is and what it is another tool that will help your patients get better and healthier, and that’s what gets me excited. I’ve seen… At first, Florian was very new, most of dental AI was new to dentistry.
And so, when I talk to these different companies and different dental AI automatically when you think of technology, everyone wants to know, “All right, what’s the ROI, the rate on return, and how are we going to make money and so forth?” I don’t look at technology… Maybe it’s just because I have more a dental background rather than a business background, whenever I look at stuff, I look at more patient health and how is it going to help me make my patient better and make my life easier also? And so, when I look at dental AI specifically, I don’t look at, “Okay, how’s it going to make my company or my practice or me more money?” I’d look at the opposite of that and how I really hone in and is what Florian brought up, treatment acceptance. I’m not looking at as, “Hey, I want to use dental AI to diagnose more. I’m going to diagnose more.”
There’s a whole aspect at dental AI seeing more defects and more problems than our human eyes can, but there’s also a whole aspect of you’re still a dentist, you’re still a hygienist that are there with the patient. You are seeing inside the mouth that the x-rays are just still one aspect how you diagnose. You still have your hands, your feel, you what you’re looking at inside a mouth. You just have to use that technology to help you. I like the case acceptance part because that is building on your patient’s trust, which is really important to me, and I think dentistry is still one-on-one with your patient. You build that trust, that’s the most important thing you can have with your patients.
Dr. Acierno, that’s great. Why don’t we stay on that patient experience and focus a little bit more on how it’s really transformed the way you and your team at DecisionOne approach patient education and case presentation. Talk a little bit about how maybe things have changed using VideaHealth.
Dr. Michael Acierno:
It’s changed that it’s made things easier. So to put in real terms, you come in and normally you come in and your hygienist presents your patient via on a regular hygiene visit and they have the pictures and the x-rays up and you go ahead and do your exam and you find some findings and you’re going to use your pictures and your x-rays to show and educate your patient on what’s there and what needs to be done. The majority of the time, patients are looking… Pictures are really good, intraoral cameras are awesome, but when you’re showing an x-ray to a patient, normally patients are looking at it going, “I don’t know what you’re showing me, but okay, I guess. I’m going to believe you.” There’s that trust factor. I’ve been in this for over 20 years. I have a lot of patients that have been with me this whole time.
Our trust is pretty strong. That took years to build up. I told you, one of my big aspects of mentoring our young docs, these young docs that come out, that’s what they struggle with. They struggle with building that trust and that communication with patients. This makes it so much easier for them because here you pull up the x-rays and the dental AI is there showing you the defects, showing you the problems, and it makes it really clear, especially with VideaHealth to a patient. I hate using the term, but it dumbed it down for a patient, so that they’re looking at it going, “Oh, now I see what he’s seeing. Yes, okay, there’s a big box around a dark shaft or a radiolucency at a root tip. Okay, now I see the red box there that that’s showing that.” It makes it so much easier for a patient to look at and understand.
And so there’s that education part that, “Okay, here, let me show you what the dental AI is showing. Let me show you what I’m seeing and agreeing with,” and you can educate a patient that way, along with the education comes to trust. And now if a patient is just meeting you or doesn’t really have that strong trust factor just yet, well, now they have this technology that’s backing the dentistry and you’re showing them and you’re educating and it just all goes hand in hand and builds that trust. And I keep saying to dentists, but also with the hygienists also. So, that’s where we see a big benefit in DecisionOne is, like I said, we hire a lot of new grads and a lot of doctors that are new to the profession. I do all mentoring, but I’m still chairside, so we’re spread out in Chicago. It’s almost really hard and impossible to get out there and try and mentor our docs like that. This makes it a lot easier. It’s just a tool that helps me to help our clinicians educate and build trust with patients.
And Mike, sorry Bill, if I can jump real quick in, do you mind? Mike, so that is also one of the things, Bill, where we talked earlier about that it’s a product, but there’s also partnership in doing change management. And I think what we’ve been seeing very successfully is that we invest a lot of training the entire clinical staff in a dental office on the benefits of AI and how to potentially use it, and it is just quite interesting. So, I want to share this anecdotally that there are two camps. There’s the one camp of doctors, how they’re using it. They show the AI generated disease to the patient and what they do is, “Look, those are the cavities you have. This is the radiographic bone loss you have for periodontal disease. Let us now, you the patient and me the clinician, work together on what we are treating as well as of what we will be observing.”
And so, that changes this patient relationship versus not so much clinician versus patient, but more both being on the same side and deciding together what needs to be done, and there’s the second camp, and again, we have a lot of training material of how to use it then also to get to this treatment acceptance, but there’s the second camp where you’re looking on a more dental facing screen, the AI results as well as making their treatment plan themselves. And then they’re showing the radiograph without AI for now to the patient and explaining them the treatment plan and all of that, and then they say, “Look, and we have Videa AI, which is an FDA-approved algorithm trained on the most accessible data in the United States, and now we switch it on, and then the AI actually shows them the decay as well and confirms essentially the treatment plan that the dentist has just communicated to the patient, which is just a second [inaudible 00:30:34] opinion while the patient’s in the chair.
So, they don’t need to go elsewhere to do that. So, it’s just like I want to share these anecdotes or these two ways of how to leverage it in the practice. Now, what’s really interesting is that this has a huge impact on a patient, and I know that because in our company, we have a map of all the dental offices across the United States, which are using our platform. And so, everyone in our company only goes to dentists which use OAI, and I actually was just last week at dental office, which uses OAI, and now this is the first time I’m actually aware that I have a decay, I need to do something about it, and it’s pretty magical to see your own and have the dentist sharing the treatment plan with you and then having this confirmed by an FDA-approved algorithm. Exactly, so I’ve been there myself as a patient as well, and it’s a pretty powerful moment.
Florian, it’s interesting, so my next question was actually going to ask for a success story. I don’t know if the success story is you because now you caught that carie before it got too far along, but can you talk about some success stories that you’ve seen as far as patient outcomes? And then Michael, it’d be great to get yours as well since you’re day to day with this?
All right, then let me start. So here, I’m to some extent actually a success story because… So one of the things, what our software does, it sources the historic images. So, if I’ve been to the dentist multiple times, it shows me the decay when it was only in the enamel and maybe just an incipient decay, and then it automatically sources the current x-ray image of the visit now, and it shows me how the decay grew. And so it shows me a progression of disease, which doesn’t only in myself, I’m just reflecting right now research, to be honest, on my own experience actually, but it doesn’t only make me trust the clinician more and I trust this clinician a lot, but also it creates a sense of urgency because I see the progression of disease and I know now that…
If I wait my last appointment was six months or whatnot, so if I wait another six months maybe then it’s soon at the pulp and I definitely don’t want to get the decay to go there. So, it also creates a sense of urgency. So, I’m not alone. At this point, we diagnose millions of patients and we have tons of these stories where, hey, due to the second opinion and together using that to get treatment acceptance for specific patients, if that makes sense, identifying something earlier or making sure that the treatment is done quicker. I think we can also put this in data. So, we are very fortunate that with you, Mike, we had the opportunity to not only look at the image data, but also really look at the practice management data. So, for every patient we are diagnosing, we also know, okay, what has been then inputted in the treatment plan? And was the treatment plan at the end of the day after a small lag, was the treatment plan accepted, completed?
Was it scheduled or was it never been done? And so, combining this x-ray analysis together with the practice management data, we can have a very data-driven approach of identifying statistically what are the results. And I think besides the anecdotal evidence of all the patients, we have all the great feedback of clinicians who certainly love to use the software because it makes them faster, it makes them not miss anything, it makes them having a better relationship with their patients, and last but least make them convert treatment. We also have now quantifiable data on that. And so just to mention a little bit about this, so we primarily work with dental chains at this point, so DSOs, dental groups, and they have different ranges in terms of number of locations, if they have young dentists, or older dentists. So, the improvement of treatment acceptance varies across these different segments.
But overall we can actually say that across restorative procedures such as crowns and fillings, we see 20 to 30% increase in actual treatment acceptance, and that is then also in terms of dollar treatment production, meaning two things, that on the one side we identify net new patients which previously haven’t gotten a crown or filling, and now they are the first time, actually they do decide to get a crown or filling, which would be me, and then also per patient we increase the case acceptance rate, which then increases the overall treatment acceptance. So, that’s in terms of restorative, so 20 to 30% increase in treatment acceptance across different segments, across different types of chains, and that’s very similar what we’ve seen around DecisionOne. And then also periodontal, one of the diseases which almost I know 50% of adults in the United States have gum disease or some stage of periodontal disease, yet the diagnosis and treatment rate is significantly lower than that.
So, there’s a huge gap between what we know Americans have as disease and what is treated. And so, that gap is quite significant and we really see to be able to close that gap with Videa AI, and so what we are seeing in periodontal treatment plans such as scaling wood planning procedures of the entire quadrant or specifics that also that we increase the treatment acceptance by 20 to 30%, quite significant. And I think here it is on the one side the AI visualizations because it has these different lines, color coding, it shows you if it’s over four or five millimeter that it gets red, the radiographic bone, et cetera, so that’s one aspect, but I’m also showing you the progression of that disease creates a sense of urgency, which then again leads to this higher treatment acceptance.
So, it’s pretty powerful to close that gap of treatment acceptance in perio. Those are the things we are seeing across all the segments, while obviously having a lot of dentists who really like to use it, hygienists love it to be honest because we really empower them, and then also patients. So I pass it on to you, Mike, but just to share one excitement about this and what we found the company, it is one of those few companies where I believe what we are doing has a win-win-win situation, win for the [inaudible 00:37:41], but win for the clinician, and win for the patient as well.
Dr. Michael Acierno:
Mine twofold with success stories, I’m not going to go into… We have success stories every day and that, but mine as CMO and like I said, mentoring all our young docs, my success stories come with watching your treatment plan acceptance go up and increase because to me, I can be in there and listen to that, do an exam and talk and relate to patients and communicate, but I can’t be there all the time. And so, when I look at the metrics from dental AI or Videa to be specific, see that treatment plan acceptance is going up, that to me is a direct relation to a patient liking and forming trust with the doctor, especially our new docs and I love seeing that. To me, that’s a success story right there, and that’s one way. Two, this is funny and me and Florian have always talked about this, is I call them our… And I’m one of them, our senior docs, and our senior docs tend to put up that wall I talked about with technology or anything new.
We get stuck in our ways and I’m one of them, I get it, but I like seeing the success stories of our senior docs looking at going, “I don’t need this. I’m fine, I know how to diagnose. I don’t need help on this end,” but having it there anyways, so meaning that it’s still on their screen and they still have to use it even though they don’t want to and watching their treatment plan acceptance go up and so forth because along with dental AI, especially with Videa, you don’t have to just use it in the present time, you can run old x-rays through it and previous x-rays, things you were watching or things you weren’t sure about, and then you run dental AI through it and you see something a little different there, something that might have changed. I see the senior docs using that more and more and whether they want to admit it or not, it’s just through the numbers I can see that it’s helping.
And just like Florian said and that this was a huge bonus for us in using dental AI is it’s always… No matter what, you talk about medical, dental, it’s always better to treat early than to treat later. It’s easier on us as clinicians, it’s better for the patient, it’s all around a better scenario. So, when you have tools allow you to treat things early in its stage and take care of it, it’s like Florian said, win-win for everyone. And so, those are the success stories I like, when I can see my younger dentist improve and form that trust in with their patients and that one-on-one, I love it. And then to see our senior docs using it, even though they don’t want to, start to use it and see the benefits and start treating their patients quicker and more efficiently and better, those are my success stories.
Thank you, Michael. I think we both of you have touched on how it really helps VideaHealth and AI help you maintain that high standard of care. It sounds like you’re getting younger clinicians to feel more comfortable, treatment acceptance is going up. The older dogs that maybe are a little apprehensive with AI are embracing it. Talk a little bit about how it’s helped you, Michael, as you scale up. You have 40 locations now and are you able to have a bird’s eye view from location to location to see how that treatment acceptance is going and if maybe one location doesn’t have the treatment acceptance that maybe another does, and are you able to pinpoint maybe the reasons why using VideaHealth in the platform?
Dr. Michael Acierno:
Yeah, I think, again, there’s two parts to that. One is, again, I’m one person. I have a couple people underneath that we mentor and watch our docs, but I can’t be everywhere and our x-rays are not cloud based, they’re server based, so it’s really hard for me and time-consuming for me to go in and show our docs or go over x-rays with them one-on-one. Dental AI is my partner in that, and the fact that I can now look at the metrics, I can go in and see specific things on, okay, is this doctor using the dental AI? Is he agreeing with what the dental AI is showing? And if not, why? And so forth and not just doctors but clinicians all around, and then I can sit down and talk to a doctor and say, “Okay, well, tell me what you were thinking here. What did you see in the mouth that turned you away from treating this lesion or whatever?”
And so, I can have a better one-on-one and get very case specific with some of our docs on the mentoring part. The other aspect is exactly what you touched on. I can look at a bird’s eye view of all our practices, whether it’s by region, whether it’s by our entire company and get an idea, “Okay, where are we heading in case acceptance?” We look at the offices that are not using dental AI and the offices that are using dental AI, what’s the difference there? There’s so much analytics that go into it that help me and make my job a lot easier as CMO. And again, this is not all because you’ll hear it and you’ll hear it from everyone out there, especially solo practices. Well, it’s just about money, it’s about revenue, it is not, it all comes down to, how do we make our patients better?
How do we make it easier for us and how do we treat things early, so that it’s easier for our patients? It’s all about our patient health, and that’s what it always should be. If someone’s doing something different, then they have no place in my profession, at least that’s how I look at it, but I always will and I’ll always run my company and the fact that don’t on my company from the bottom line up, if you do what’s right for your patient, if you treat them the way you are supposed to treat them, you don’t have to look at the bottom line, it’s going to be there. It’s a business, but you have to be able to sit there. You’re a clinician first. You look at your patient exactly how you are supposed to be treating them, and that’s how I’ll always look at it, that’s how I’ll always mentor my docs in our company.
Thanks, Dr. Acierno. As we start to wrap things up here, a couple final questions. Florian you maybe take out your crystal ball here and talk… You mentioned something early on in the podcast, so I was going to ask you about the future of dental AI in the coming years, but you said something about the coming months, so there must be some things cooking pretty quickly. So, what you can tell us, I’d love to get out your crystal ball and tell us how you think things are going to evolve in the near future.
So, I think we are moving incredibly fast. We are lucky that we have amazing partners, meaning dental groups such as Mike and many others who are rolling our AI fully out, and then also we have other partners like Henry Schein One where we integrated our AI into all Dentrix and Dentrix One and Ascend platforms, and so I do believe that in the short term, maximum next two years, AI supported diagnosis and treatment planning will become the standard of care, and so we are super excited about it. You mentioned earlier that we had the chance to speak on this on live TV at Fox News, and what was really interesting is first of all, we had a lot of great clinicians reaching out to ask for Videa AI, but also we had a lot of patients reaching out to watch the program and ask, “Hey, I’m in this small community in Idaho, everyone loves our dentist. How could he or she use that software?”
So, I do believe that in the next two years it will become the standard of care and will also be requested by patients for great reasons. Then, I do believe that the second stage of this, and Mike, we always talk about this, that we try to help with automating a lot of administrative task in the dental office, which are all around clinical documentation, chart notes, charting, et cetera, and why we want to do that, and I think that’s the second step of this and will also come much faster than we think is purely to have the majority of staff spend less time in a dark backdoor room alone, clicking on charts around, but instead spending more time in the front office with the patient, building this relationship, doing the treatments, scheduling patients, all of that together with them.
And I think the third step where we see this, and this will take a little bit more than month, that will take years, but also not many, is I believe that dentistry together with AI and by which I mean creating algorithms and statistics around very large data sets. So, we are assembling the largest dataset in the world probably around this that we enable dentists to go also in overall health and what we call medical dental integration.
And we are looking forward to a future whereby taking all these data sets together that we can predict the progression of disease as well as flag correlations between your gum disease and your overall oral health towards risk of, for instance, hypertension, diabetes. So, I think there might be a future where dentists become a screening station for overall health as well. And so, I think those are the three steps we are seeing now relatively clearly, and so we work very hard at VideaHealth to make our AI available to almost everyone in the United States at this point and also very easily available. And so, that’s what we are working on and we are very excited about it.
That is exciting. All right, last question for you both. What advice would you give to DSOs that are considering adopting dental AI in their practices? Michael, we can start with you.
Dr. Michael Acierno:
I go along with what Florian was saying. I really believe that this is a big part of future in our profession and you either get forefront of it or you get behind and learn it maybe too late. You want your clinicians using the best technology and the most up-to-date technology they can for their patients, and this is it. This is helping you diagnose, it’s helping you form your trust, it’s helping your patient all along, and that’s the main thing we’re in this for. On the other hand, with DSOs, there’s a whole analytics and metrics system that makes the clinical aspect so much easier to try and help your doctors and help them in ways that you probably couldn’t, meaning besides the one-on-one, and being in there and mentoring, this is like having a doctor in there helping them mentor and helping them treatment plan and discuss with patients [inaudible 00:50:43].
So, that aspect is huge when it comes to a DSO or a group where you have several locations or multiple locations, you’re trying to help several doctors at once. So, when I look at that, that’s a no-brainer for DSO. Why wouldn’t you want that technology? When I’m looking at it from a clinician standpoint, I want everything available to me that to help my patient and help me. So absolutely, it’s something that DSOs really should do, again, their due diligence, look into it. There’s several companies out there and they all do it pretty similar, but have different ways and different platforms and whatever works for you is best for you, but I don’t see why you would want to fall behind.
This is going to be the standard of care. It’s coming, just like Florian joked or actually said that when it was on the news, he got patients asking from small towns, “Hey, when’s that technology going to be available?” How many patients, probably five years ago, maybe a little longer, came in and asked if we were using digital x-rays? We were getting it all the time because it’s less radiation, better for them, clear reading. They know that, patients are very educated nowadays with the internet and everything else out there. So, why not make your company or your clinicians in the forefront and make them use this technology that is going to do nothing but help them, and early on too?
I think what’s special about AI is that it’s overall nonetheless new, meaning that you need to do a certain level of change management. You need to educate the clinicians of how to leverage it to diagnose and get higher treatment acceptance. And then on the other side, it’s coming very quickly, but it’s also very quickly evolving. We just talked about it, like Mike, you’re very familiar with what we are doing now and then also what’s coming in short amounts of time.
Dr. Michael Acierno:
And I kept quiet, Florian, I didn’t give any sneakers.
Exactly, but it’s great stuff. And so, that makes AI really a little bit different than maybe other software products or even other products where it’s a very established product category, like a practice management system. These softwares are years old, there’s not big new developments. There’s some, but it takes time, and we’ve had them for years and years or decades and decades. Now AI is coming quite fast, and so my overall recommendation is really to not see this as only a vendor relationship. We always say to our customers, we don’t see… We are a vendor in the sense that we want to on the one side, develop you the best product, and I think we absolutely do that and our customers give us a lot of great feedback on it.
But then on the other side also, we see ourselves as a partner for now to help you to successfully integrate it into your workflow, into all your locations, roll it out, get adoption, get our eye on it, but then also for the future where we co-develop with our partners of what’s to come next. And I think that’s why we really think about this as a partnership between the DSO as well as us VideaHealth, and on the one side, developing the best technology on the other side, it’s correct developing and we want to make sure that it’s also used in your technology. And so, there is where we go with the extra step. So, I think that’s just what I would advise as you look at implementing dental AI, ask for those questions and I make this powerful
Michael, Dr. Acierno, if someone must find out more about DecisionOne Dental Partners or just contact you, how do they do that?
Dr. Michael Acierno:
You look us up on our website, decisiononedentalpartners.com, and you can all my information there. You can also email me at macierno, A-C-I-E-R-N-O, @decisiononedental.com, and ask me anything. I’m an open book. I’m friends with all different DSOs and everyone out there. Even though it’s a big world, it’s still a small world, and so I’ll help anyone. Any questions, anything, you’ve got questions, and if you want to learn about how we did our due diligence and what we did, absolutely ask us, and I can tell you I don’t hold back. I’m an open book.
That’s great, and we’ll make sure we drop the link to VideaHealth AI and also DecisionOne Dental Partners information in the show notes. So, thank you both for being on the Group Dentistry Now Show, great information, jam packed with really interesting info. We had a preview of what’s to come with VideaHealth and dental AI, and until next time, again, thanks everybody for listening or you might be watching us. This is the Group Dentistry Now Show, and I’m Bill Neumann.