In a perfect world, most dentists would probably want to provide cone-beam volumetric imaging (CBVI) to their patients. After all, the benefits of CBVI have been highly touted — a more accurate diagnosis and treatment plan for a more predictable outcome, greater treatment acceptance with increased office efficiency and significantly less radiation when compared to a medical CT scan.
But this isn’t a perfect world and not all dentists can afford to invest in their own CBVI machine for a variety of reasons: They don’t know if their patient load can justify the expense, they don’t perform a large number of implants or other procedures that would require it, they don’t want to send their patients to a hospital where the radiation can be 10 to 100 times higher and they really don’t want to send their patients to a competitor and risk that patient defecting to the competition.
Luckily for them, Daniel Fields developed a solution to the problem — a mobile imaging center van filled with the latest CBVI technology that would travel directly to the dentists’ offices along with a certified and experienced technologist who would perform the scan based on the consultation of the dentist and then provide it immediately for viewing.
“I developed the mobile concept after speaking with hundreds of dentists who expressed that having the CBVI information was important, but it was a significant investment. The options available were not that great,” Fields said. “All dentists want to provide the very best for their patients, but many dental offices are small businesses and can’t afford to provide the latest high-tech equipment. It is expensive, and they would have to raise their fee structure for all of their patients.”
Fields said he developed the mobile systems to address the hurdles that dentists and their patients would have to overcome to have their scans.
“Patients prefer not to be referred to an unknown facility or another practice, and they prefer to have all their tests and procedures performed in the familiar dentist’s office,” he said.
Fields said he took the mobile concept idea from the medical field where large hospitals often utilize sophisticated mobile CT and MRI units on a shared-use basis with other hospitals in the area. The mobile dental imaging system reduces investment for the dentists, provides convenience for the patient, and actually helps in building patient confidence in the dentists as well as the practice.
In addition, Fields said, because dentists can share the scan with the patient directly after it is taken and they can go through the treatment plan together, the increase in patient acceptance is often significant.
The way the mobile imaging center concept works are simple. All of the vans are privately owned, either by dentists, technicians or investors. Currently, there are 59 mobiles in operation in various places across the United States, including California, with new vans being added at a rate of about one a month.
As one mobile service user, Dr. David Jarrin put it, “Utilizing 3D Mobile Cone Beam’s services here in Chicago has been a huge advantage for not only my patients but also my practice. They really appreciate the convenience of having all procedures performed in the familiar surroundings of my office. As far as the diagnostic results, the image quality from the NewTom VGi has been superb, nothing else even comes close. After a scan is performed, I get the images immediately and do a consultation with the patient. It’s fantastic.
Mr. Fields oversees all the mobile units, providing support in terms of marketing, education and vehicle setup. Ongoing education is especially important.
“We train all the certified technicians through our educational programs,” Fields said. “They get the training on the CBCT unit and software, and then spend time with the existing owners for additional training.”