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Exploring how digitally literate we are in dentistry

Blog Author Yasmin Allen

Blog Date 24/04/2018




The term digital literacy conjures up many possible explanations. Is it about being able to communicate using technology? Being able to understand how technology works? 


Or is it utilising the latest clinical technologies? The term encompasses all aspects of digitisation, including learning, online safety, proficiency, utilisation and innovation (see diagram below).


And on 11 April, joined by a panel of digital innovators we discussed how digitisation is likely to affect the dental profession and how we can best develop digital literacy and keep practitioners up-to-date.


The panel consisted of Hannah Burrow (CEO, Co-founder Kiroku), Ahmed Wobi (CEO and founder of Wobinnovation), John Hodges (Account director and UKCloud health), Dhru Shah (founder and owner of Dentinal Tubules) and Mish Sachdev (CDO at Brushlink). 


Sam Shah, Director of Digital Development at NHS England, set the tone with his introduction describing the NHS’ digital agenda and what lies on the horizon. 

Javeriah Mahmood, Frank Clough and myself kicked off the session by providing our interpretations of digital literacy: the what, why and how? 


Outlining the exponential change in technological development, and how healthcare and dentistry tend to fall behind due to the slow rate of adaptation to change. 


We highlighted the need for the workforce to evolve and embrace new ways of working. And to adopt technological change to improve our working lives and the care we deliver to patients. 

What are challenges for dentistry in the digital age?

A panel discussion, chaired by the BDA's Young Dentist Committee Chair, Nikki Patel, raised some relevant and thought-provoking considerations. 


These included consideration towards practices that are not digitally enabled and how they could be supported, the slow adoption of technology within the profession, existing technology with unsatisfactory user interfaces, and the difficulty with developing innovation within a healthcare environment. 

The enthusiasm and passion of the panel members was clear, and further contributions from a very mixed audience, which ranged from developers to policymakers, provided lively debate and raised thought provoking questions about the current usage and suitability of current dental digital technology. 

Challenges identified included the relatively small size of the dental market, the perceived need within the profession and the appetite to embrace and push for change. 

This event was the first of its kind to provide a forum to discuss digital literacy within dentistry, and would not have been possible without the BDA, Local Dental Committees, Health Education England's Building a Digital Ready Workforce team, dental clinical fellows, panel members and attendees. 

Want to find out more about digital dentistry?

If you want to find out more, come along to the British Dental Conference and Dentistry Show in Birmingham in May – we’ll be asking ‘Are we ready for the digital revolution in dentistry’ on Friday 19 May, and we’d love to hear your thoughts!

You can also find out more about our digital dentistry work on our website. 


Yasmin Allen, Clinical Fellow

Health Education England




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