Jacox LA, Bocklage C, Edwards T, Mihas P, Lin FC, Ko CC. Understanding technology adoption by orthodontists: a quantitative study. Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop. 2021 Oct 21. doi: 10.1016/j.ajodo.2020.08.024.


INTRODUCTION: Digital scanning, treatment planning, 3-dimensional imaging, and printing are changing the practice of orthodontics. These tools are adopted with the hope that treatment becomes more predictable, efficient, and effective while reducing adverse outcomes. Digital tools are impacting care, but knowledge of nationwide adoption trends and motivators is incomplete.

METHODS: We aimed to identify adoption decision-makers, information sources, incentives, and barriers through the first nationwide survey of American Association of Orthodontics members on their technology adoption habits, needs, and outcomes. Data were assessed using descriptive and bivariate analyses. The survey was developed from a comprehensive qualitative interview phase as part of a mixed methodology study.

RESULTS: Responses (n = 343) revealed orthodontists make adoption decisions on the basis of advice from other dentists and company representatives while rarely consulting staff or research literature. Continuing education and meetings are most effective at disseminating information to practicing doctors, whereas journals generate less impact. Key adoption incentives include added capabilities, practice efficiency, ease of implementation, and performance, whereas cost is the main barrier to purchase. Early adopters with larger practices charge higher fees than other adopters to support the costs of technologies. Treatment outcome is not a primary adoption incentive for specific technologies.

CONCLUSIONS: Orthodontists positively perceive the influence of intraoral scanning, cone-beam computed tomography imaging, 3-dimensional printing, computer-aided design–computer-aided manufacturing archwires, and clear aligner therapy on their practice and patient care. The orthodontic technological transformation is underway, and knowledge of adoption can guide our transition into modern practice, in which digital tools are effective adjuncts to the specialists' expertise.

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