A Close Look at Adding a Surgical Guide Solution

In my last blog I made a claim; grow your lab through the introduction of new products and services, aided by CAD CAM technologies. I was thinking of digging into the specifics of how a laboratory would go through this process with one of the recommended new digital product launches. Let’s discuss launching a new guided implant surgery solution, including both planning services and final guide production. Today there are many different planning software solutions. Since so many labs use 3Shape let’s look at what it takes to launch this service using the recently released, 3Shape Implant Studio (IS). Before doing so, please note that most surgical guide solutions have been developed for use by the dentist. IS has a clear path for labs to plan placement and design guides. This starts with the need to learn new software, reading CBCT scans,  designing and production of guides and finally, launching the product.

Getting Started

There are a few reasons most labs are not offering this service. First, the concern of the unknown. Little or no knowledge of new software, reading CBCT scans and the potential liability in the unlikely event that things go wrong when placing implants. I would like to share a path for education and a successful launch of a planning and guide, new product introduction. Before I do, to ease your mind, 3Shape has taken the necessary steps to insure the liability of treatment is solely on the dentist placing the implant.

Education is Key

First, if you have 3Shape, many of the tools used in the basic dental design module are the same tools found in IS. As a result, learning the software is not as difficult as you may think. Attend an IS hands-on program. This program is about 4-6 hours of hands-on, plan implant placement and designing guides digitally.  We now offer this program at CAP. Once you take the program, you can decide if this product is for you. Moving forward, contact a few local oral surgeons and or periodontists. Tell them you are offering a guide solution and would love to work through some cases with them. It is not difficult to find interest. Keep in mind your first dozen cases will be a continuation of your education. At first I would recommend guides for free, or half price and chalk up the cost to education. By partnering with a surgeon for a dozen cases there is an opportunity for both to learn a lot. My recommendation is to do the plan yourself and schedule a time to do a screenshare to do a remote review for each case. The surgeon will learn IS software and guided surgery (if they didn’t already know it) and you will learn to better read CBCT scans from an expert.

Determine Your Fabrication Method

For guide fabrication, you can use a 5 axis mill and a clear PMMA disc, or use a 3D printer. If you don’t have the needed equipment, you can outsource guide manufacturing. Click here for more info.  Obviously, determine the best-in-class output equipment for guide manufacturing, which should be included in the learning process. If you’re planning on milling, make sure your distributor can accommodate a milling strategy for guides. If you are printing make sure the material is FDA cleared for this indication.

Choose Your Path to Launch

Once comfortable with your knowledge, there are many paths to launch the product and there are also many ways to promote the service. Speak to your existing doctors first about guided surgery. Ask them if they would like to do a few cases and to introduce you to their referring surgeons. After you have completed several cases, have a small group to your lab to do a guided implant program. Add a slick to your outgoing cases and let your local implant reps know you are trying to grow the service. Again, the opportunity is out there as not many are offering the service. If there is a window of time to get into this product, it is now.

The fact that MOST labs are not offering this service is a compelling reason why you should. Dentists that are interested in or looking for this service will be more than happy to embrace you. Especially if their current lab(s) are not offering it. In addition to having a new product, providing guides is a great way to obtain new customers as well as growing your implant work. Offering this service will open new doors for this product and bring you more implant prosthetic work. And implant supported restorations is one of the best profit generators for many successful labs. For more details on implant studio and IS education you can watch a recent webinar we hosted at CAP, here.

Thanks for reading,

Bob Cohen, CDT

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