Trends in dental field disruption: Q&A with Premier Dental's Chris Helle

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Chris Helle is the chief marketing officer of Premier Dental, a global dental products company with sales in more than 75 countries.

Here, Mr. Helle discusses the big trends in dental technology and how consumerism will change the industry.

Question: If you were given $10 million (no strings attached) what would you invest in?

Chris Helle: I’m always interested in new disruptive technologies and solutions that have the potential to meaningfully address a known consumer need or pain point better than the existing alternatives. As it relates to dentistry, anything that improves oral care access, comfort and outcomes for patients is worthy of consideration. To this end, I’m particularly interested in app-based solutions and 3D printing technologies. Apps hold the promise of simplifying everything from scheduling appointments — think about booking your next dentist appointment just like making a reservation on Open Table or Resy at your favorite restaurant — to simplifying the hassles of understanding insurance coverage and reimbursements.

3D-printing and digital scans are a powerful combination that can lead to more precise, customized dental products and solutions that deliver better patient outcomes more efficiently and at less cost. Both of these trends are likely to have a major impact in dentistry and other industries over the next five years.

Q: What industry leader, in healthcare, tech or finance, would you like to bring on your team? Whose advice/philosophy do you follow?

CH: I'd love to partner with Jeff Bezos of Amazon. Jeff and his team operate in a culture that habitually thinks boldly and challenges conventional wisdom. They've not only harnessed data, insights and technology to revolutionize e-commerce and cloud computing through AI and predictive analytics, they're now on to drone deliveries and even sub-orbital space tourism. Jeff has learned how to leverage insights to develop vision and build truly disruptive services that dramatically simplify the customer experience.

I’m a firm believer in always putting the customer experience first when formulating business strategy and plans. To do so, you have to be a leader who instills an insight-driven, consumer-led mindset into all that your organization does. As an example, we developed the Premier Promise which is our commitment to always strive to do four things for our customers:

1) Make it easy to do business with us.
2) Deliver innovative, standard-setting solutions.
3) Be your product concierge for knowledge and service.
4) Make it right if we fall short.

As a 106-year-old company, we firmly believe that operating by these four principles will ensure we stay relevant and lead us to our next 100 years of success. Additionally, I believe every employee — regardless of role or title — has a role to play in delivering the Premier Promise. As a result, it’s critical to always do right by your people if you want to do right by your business. I always say, 'A great customer experience starts with a great employee experience' because happy and engaged employees become your strongest brand ambassadors.

Q: In the next six months, what’s the biggest change the dental industry will go through? Over the next year?

CH: Improving the customer experience is the dental industry’s biggest challenge and also our biggest opportunity. The good news is we all have the ability to lead this change. To that end, I think it’s critical that we all work collectively to drive awareness of the importance of oral health as a gateway to overall health as the two are inextricably linked. This not only requires additional education for our population on the importance of going to the dentist regularly; it also requires both industry leaders and our government policy makers to find ways to expand and improve oral healthcare access and insurance coverage.

As part of expanding and improving access, I believe consumer-friendly apps that make it easier to schedule dentist appointments, provide greater price transparency and simplify the whole insurance process will strengthen the dental industry by making the end-to-end experience better for dental professionals and patients alike.

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