One area that has seen enormous growth in the healthcare sector is the dental sector. Dentistry, however, remains widespread and scattered, making it quite inconsistent and discrepant.
While most of the nearly 2 million dentists worldwide are in Europe or the Americas; that is 69% of the world’s dentists serve 27% of the global population[i], over 68% of the poorer countries have fewer than 5 dentists per 10 000 people, and 37% have less than 1[ii].
Dentists usually run their individual practices working independently and find their own solution suitable for their business.
A large number of dental practices are managed manually, with a very low degree of automation starting from booking patients, maintaining their data and payment procedures. This is mainly due to lack of awareness and the perceived high costs.
The rise in dental market share
Albeit, in the western hemisphere, the Global Dental market size is expected to reach 40500 Million USD by the end of 2025. Here, the dental market refers to devices and instruments, consumables needed to maintain healthy teeth. The consumable products are those that dentists use on patients to treat impairments, restoration or infections, ranging from implants, crowns, bridges, biomaterials to orthodontics, endodontic and periodontics products[iii].
Automating the dental sector
Like most industries, automation increases efficiency and reduce costs. Even though most of us need to visit the dentist, the high costs and bad experience are huge deterrents.
Blockchain technology is a distributed system without a central administrator, that log each transaction on connected blocks and store them on an encrypted digital ledger. This sector is increasingly becoming more aware about incorporating modern technology because interoperability of data with accessible digital health technologies is indeed the key to deliver value-based dental care[iv]. Crucially, this change may help augment the customer services experience.
One organisation that focusses on exactly this, is a Dutch company called Dentacoin, who have developed Dentacoin blockchain-based solutions and cryptocurrency.
The blockchain technology will incentivise patients by offering loyalty programmes. There is an app – called Dentacoin HubApp that the patient can use to answer survey questions on their oral health and polls, all anonymously. Review and feedback can be fed into their Review platform. When patients are found to follow good oral habits, they earn loyalty points, incentivising patients not only to look after their dental health but also gain credits. The blockchain solution improves payment as well – via the app. All the tools are integrated, making the entire process quite seamless.
Dentists immensely benefit from this system; they are rewarded with Dentacoin or DCN, an ERC20 token. DCN is accepted by dentists, laboratories, suppliers, manufacturers and other companies within the Dentacoin network. And you can store, send, receive, and exchange Dentacoin in Lumi Wallet.
The system improves patient doctor relationship, they have more information about the patient improving long term outcome. With no third parties involved, in the smart contracts, all profits go to the dentists. They have the freedom to design the system that’s best suited and it is affordable. They have nearly 2,000 dentists on board in 90 locations, it is rapidly expanding.
[iv] Joda T, Waltimo T, Probst-Hensch N, Pauli-Magnus C, Zitzmann NU. Health Data in Dentistry: An Attempt to Master the Digital Challenge. Public Health Genomics. 2019;22(1-2):1-7. doi: 10.1159/000501643.