President & CEO, Steve Baird, shares some of his predictions for 2017.
Pressure to provide lower cost medical & dental devices
Regardless of the entity or person paying for health care, the cost is substantial. Unexpected health care costs is a leading factor in personal bankruptcy in the US. Forgoing care creates a need for emergency care at a much higher cost. At some point in time costs that cannot be paid by the responsible party are passed onto others, further driving up costs.
We are seeing much more governmental study and comment on care costs with executives required to justify price models.
I believe 2017 will see companies utilize technology to develop, manufacture, distribute and support product solutions that will lower the cost of existing solutions by 90%. This creates a challenge for companies to get “smart” about technology and earn the profits from lower costs or be left behind.
S-Ray is a smart company which will leverage technology in 2017 to deliver revenue and profits per employee on a par with technology service companies.
Pressure to deliver diagnosis and treatment with precision and speed
Health care professionals have a finite amount of time to utilize their very valuable training. Demand for their time will increase. Higher educational standards for entry into the various professions will further limit staffing.
Diagnostic systems must evolve into single points of patient contact to provide a wide range of data points. At S-Ray, we term that vision as “one and done”. In a single scan of the patient’s teeth, multiple views and conditions (such as cracks and cavities) will be shown in a 3D model – within 1 minute. In addition to faster diagnostics, the clinician will be provided with extremely accurate information to support a fully informed and precise diagnosis. A better-informed patient can accept a treatment plan, speeding up the treatment.
With respect to treatments, dentistry is positioned to utilize two aspects of the evolution of manufacturing. The first is additive manufacturing. This term encompasses processes such as 3D printing. The second is distributed manufacturing. This term removes the big factory and replaces it with numerous small factories – each a self-contained production facility.
One vision for dental offices is to equip them with a 3D printer to produce items such as dental crowns, orthodontic braces and sleep apnea devices in-house. Additionally, by lowering the cost by removing shipping, it also enables the dentist to have a better fitting result – on a single patient visit.
Lights Out Manufacturing
S-Ray has been utilizing robotics in product development. This knowledge of robotics is enabling the company to move into production planning with a high robot population with a single human manager. The term “lights out manufacturing” reflects the factory of the future – a robot does not need light. However, when the human manager needs to do some work, the lights come on.
S-Ray is in a unique position with robotics. Our product is being designed to utilize additive manufacturing, lights out manufacturing and distributed manufacturing. We won’t be shifting away from a labor-intensive production model – instead, we will be harnessing technology from the start to drive down production costs to keep a low-price point and very healthy profits. Once the first “plant” is operating with high-efficiency, volume can be scaled up in additional geographic locations – fulfilling our promise of a product with global reach.
Just in Time Supply
The practice of providing inventory at the time it is needed was pioneered in the manufacturing sector primarily as a way of decreasing the amount of capital required to hold inventory. By reducing the capital needed, it increased the overall profitability of the business. We are now seeing an expansion of just in time to include consumer products typically offered through retailers. This past holiday season showed widespread reduction of shelved inventory offset by integrating web ordering with store fulfillment (pick up locations). As Amazon continues to break ground with faster delivery (such as same day), 2017 will see more demand for just in time fulfillment. We believe this trend will continue to include the health care services with more patients utilizing web-based appointment requests and the expectation that they will enjoy one visit diagnostics, treatment planning and partial – if not full – treatment.
In summary, I see 2017 as a year that invites innovative technology to be used to deliver the health care solutions demanded by the global marketplace. S-Ray will accept that invitation and do our best to execute to the opportunity.
Happy New Year!