I wrote this editorial article for Michael Joseph, CEO of outsourced NHS dental lab service Maxident. It was published in one of the leading professional titles for the dental profession, under Michael’s name. I’ve used an informal but appropriately professional tone of voice. Editorial article contribution for dental lab CEO Michael Joseph, of Maxident.

completed: 2013
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When one size doesn’t fit all.

We all suckers for convenience. Why would we not be? There’s not much to reinvent the wheel when you find yourself in possession of a wheel that already works pretty well.

A great many dentists see a single, tried and trusted dental lab as sufficient to deliver all the work they require. A strong relationship exists with the dentist and, often, the lab’s sole technician, and all the prescriptions for all the labwork the dentist needs are sent over without a second thought.

It’s worth pausing for a moment, however, to think about what this kind of convenient and familiar relationship really means.

Most small, technician-owned labs ‘do what they do’. A small number of technicians (and very often just one) use the same techniques, practices and materials to produce a consistent standard of work on every job. If the volume workload going through the job involves filling NHS prescriptions, then the routines will be geared to this particular kind of work.

As a qualified technician (and as the CEO of an NHS lab business) myself, I have huge admiration for the quality of the work produced by NHS lab technicians. Yet economics place inevitable constraints on the time that can be viably spent per job, and on the materials with which NHS technicians develop facility through regular practice.

When a dentist chooses to cross-prescribe, inviting a small lab routinely producing work for the NHS to produce work for patients being treated independently, or even privately, it is almost inevitable that the work returned by the lab will fail to deliver the premium quality that both dentist and patient should expect in independent or private treatment.

Is there an answer? Yes there is, though for dentists comfortable with traditional approaches from local suppliers, it may require some revision of viewpoint.

Outsourced lab services, making use of highly skilled technicians and costly, state-of-the-art technical facilities and located in the Far East, are able to offer technology, technical skills, craftsmanship and time spent per job that mean the quality standards of their output is entirely appropriate for use in independent work.


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