Friday, January 22, 2010

Even my dentist is driven by regulatory compliance

I endured my annual checkup at the dentist yesterday. The first thing they did was take new X-rays of my teeth while proudly stating they had switched from regular film to digital film for the X-rays. I asked why and the young lady recited the following features to me:
  • The X-rays are 2/3rds less power for digital versus regular film (I thought this features was a good benefit for me!)
  • The images are more detailed
  • The software that comes with the digital imaging system can help the dentist better diagnose problems
I thought these were all good reasons but I was still really interested in why the dentist spent the money to do this. After all, I was getting great treatment with regular film X-rays last year. Why did the dentist spend the money to go digital? She said “You’d better ask him”, just as he appeared so I did. “Doc, why did you spend this money in this economic climate when I suspect that no one wants to spend money?” His response was that he didn’t want to spend the money at all but due to new Washington State laws that governed the use of X-ray machines and how X-rays are developed he had to upgrade his equipment for an obsolete (film) technology and that the cost of the upgrade was about 1/3rd of switching to digital so he decided to switch to digital.

I thought maybe the dentist was rolling in money and just wanted to upgrade but that wasn’t the case. He didn’t want to spend his money but he had to for regulatory compliance. The features above just came as part of the deal. In fact, he would have spent the money even if he didn’t get the features above.

So the moral of the story to me is that regulatory compliance drives even my dentist – not just IT – to spend money. From a marketing perspective, having good features like those listed above wouldn’t have been enough to get the dentist to spend his money but by connecting these features to regulatory compliance the manufacturer got their sale and I got the benefit of less radiation.

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