TOTAL COST OF OWNERSHIP
can cause us to overlook the required work
and actual costs that accompany new technology. Technology investments have a wide impact, affecting our practices, patients, and
It’s for these reasons that understanding
the TCO of digital impression systems is a
vital step in successful integration. Let us
now look at some of the components of TCO
for digital impression systems.
INITIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE
Far from a hidden cost, the initial hardware
and software expenses for digital dental impressions are included in the price of the
equipment. This portion of the TCO is
straightforward and impossible to overlook.
WORKFLOW AND TRAINING
The purchase of a digital impression system
comes with a well-defined price tag, but the costs
associated with adoption and integration are
another matter. Practices that are ill-prepared
to integrate this new technology can see their
workflows interrupted. This hidden cost of
interruption is difficult to calculate, but it is no
less real than the price of the equipment itself.
Thankfully, this cost can be mitigated by
thoughtful preparation and careful integration.
For example, the negative impact can be
mitigated through competent management
decisions, group discussions, plenty of prior
warning, and assistance to any team members who are struggling. These actions prevent wasted time and reduce transition stress.
They allow the workflow benefits of digital
impression systems to manifest quicker.
For most practices, training may be necessary to take advantage of the many features
of digital impression technology. To maximize
workflow, appropriate staff should be familiar
with setting up hardware, using the software,
scanning patients with proper technique,
correctly handling the sterilization of fragile
pieces, and sending files to the lab for production. Ideally, some team members should even
be proficient enough to diagnose and repair
simple internet connectivity issues, avoiding
superfluous IT support. This can be learned
through dedicated training, the price of which
should be considered in the TCO.
UPKEEP AND MAINTENANCE
As with any digital equipment, the components of a digital impression
system require upkeep to software and hardware components. For
software, the cost of future system upgrades should always be considered in TCO, as should the I T support that will minimize downtime
experienced due to errors or connectivity issues. IT infrastructure
serves as a preventative cost, protecting equipment from interruptions
that could damage the workflow of the practice. In the case of laptops,
which are used with some digital impression machines in lieu of a
dedicated tower, the software upkeep cost may include firewall and
antivirus subscriptions, particularly if the laptop is also used for general
Hardware maintenance can be particularly costly, especially in
bustling practices where the equipment endures near-constant use.
Accidents happen, potentially requiring the replacement of necessary
hardware. The delicate nature of many scanner heads makes them
susceptible to scratches or to being crushed in improper storage. The
TCO of digital dental impressions should be considered as if these
accidents were inevitable. Otherwise, we risk not only the surprise of
maintenance costs, but having to remove the equipment from use,
negatively impacting our workflow and ongoing cases. A potential
method of preventing this issue is through redundancy, though this
may not be an option for most practices. If it is, the additional equipment should be added to the TCO.
The final consideration regarding TCO and upkeep is the lifespan
of the equipment. Eventually, each piece of technology will reach its
end phase, when replacement becomes preferable to maintenance.
Though it can technically be seen as the beginning of a new TCO for
the next, usually upgraded version, it is still important to consider
the potential cost when investing in a system.
While the majority of the TCO for a digital impression system relates
directly to the hardware, software, and workflow implementation, there
are auxiliary costs that should be considered. These include a monthly
internet connection, licensing fees, and storage. These costs are generally recurring, sometimes causing them to be separated from the TCO.
But it is important to recognize that they are, in fact, a part of it.
It may seem overwhelming to consider the TCO of a digital dental
impression system. However, it is the key to successfully preparing
for and implementing this new and exciting technology. When all
the potential costs are considered, the focus can be on the adoption
and continued use of this advancement in digital dentistry.
GARY KAYE, DDS,
FAGD, is the founder of
the New York Center for
Digital Dentistry and has
practiced in New York
City since 1993. He is a
graduate of the Columbia
University College of
Dental Medicine. Dr. Kaye
consults with other
dentists and dental
lectures on topics
occlusion, and digital
dentistry. He is a guest
faculty member of
Planmeca University in
Ideally, some team members should
even be proficient enough to diagnose
and repair simple internet connectivity
issues, avoiding superfluous IT support.