An Interview with Felix A. Fontanez, CDT
Effective communication among all team members is the currency needed for achieving the best patient outcomes, according to Felix A. Fontanez, CDT, vice president and director of sales for Renfert USA. Underpinning this is an understanding of the latest technology, which will provide a laboratory technician a distinct advantage, he notes.
Inside Dental Technology (IDT): What do you believe are the keys to building a strong dentist–technician relationship in the modern business environment?
Felix A. Fontanez: With the rapid changes and many challenges that the dental industry is experiencing in this era of digital transition, I believe dentists and technicians must find common pathways to work together in order to benefit their respective businesses. Those avenues are built on the mutual respect for the clinical and technical knowledge that each player brings to a case. Honest and open communication lines for team discussions are paramount. Primary is the understanding that the team is always laser focused on what is best for the patient. If the relationship is built on a patient-first focal point, then discussions will center less on ‘what I need’ and more on ‘what can we do to give patients what they need.’
IDT: What hurdles need to be overcome in order for this type of relationship to be nurtured?
Fontanez: Like any relationship in life, communication and mutual respect are key. Each party brings his or her own set of high expectations. No matter if it’s the association between the dentist and patient or the one between the dentist and technician, clear communication is essential for ensuring that everyone’s desires are met. If the dentist and technician can openly talk about their respective expectations, educate each other on what is needed to meet those goals, and work diligently to provide the information needed, then the end result will meet or exceed the patient’s hopes and solidify that relationship for further care and perhaps lead to patient referrals.
IDT: Do you think the ability to articulate at this level is often outside the comfort zone of both the technician and dentist?
Fontanez: Often, that is the case. However, if the team conversation revolves around the patient’s expectations and needs, then open and frank communication is much easier for both parties to begin the discussion and focus on the assets each brings to the table and what they need to do to treat the patient’s oral situation. For technicians, it opens the door of opportunity to become more of a consultative partner for their clients. And with that comes the responsibility of staying current with the latest research and materials science in order to best advise on materials use and application and become a viable and integral partner for their clients.
IDT: Is the consultative opportunity for laboratories you mention a direction you believe to be a differentiator and competitive factor for businesses in the future?
Fontanez: As rapidly as our industry is changing, I believe it is imperative for laboratories to stay abreast of not only new materials science and research but also cutting-edge technologies and techniques that can help the team deliver more accurate and consistent dentistry. The knowledgeable technologist will always have a place in the dental industry, particularly one who can deliver a restoration that is at the highest skill level of artistry, form, fit, and function. We have to keep in mind that the technology being used today to capture digital data and mill and/or print final restorations is only as good as the person operating the equipment. If the operator does not have the highest level of dental technology knowledge possible, the same errors that occur in analog processes can creep into the digital operations.
IDT: How does Renfert support raising the bar on the educational level of dental technologists?
Fontanez: As a company, we support both sides of the industry equation—analog and digital. Our line of products is designed for technicians desiring to take their skills, knowledge, and artistry to the next level. To that end, our mission is to provide strong customer support for all our customers and develop a powerful working relationship that helps them reach their goals. We are here to be an effective partner and do whatever it takes to support each of our customers.