Digital patients - which opportunity arises for dental laboratories

When it comes to digitalization in the dental industry, the focus is often on the digitization of dental practices, laboratories and manufacturing centers. Not only the communication and networking between these players in the dental sector is changing due to digitization, but also the behavior of the patients. While in the past patients have completely relied on the advice of their therapists, the progress of digitization and thus, among other things, the exponentially increasing content that can be found online offers them the opportunity to inform themselves independently. This research starts with the search for diagnoses, continues with suitable therapists, up to the verification of recommendations for the same doctors.

The new digital patients are therefore better informed, they compare and do not leave the decision to the practitioner alone - including when it comes to the choice of biocompatible materials or the aesthetics of the dentures.

Digital patients are better informed

ePatients in facts and figures

  • 58 % use search engines to find out about symptoms and illnesses before seeing a doctor

  • 62 % inform themselves after the doctor's visit

  • ePatients use doctor searches and rating portals and exchange ideas in communities

  • ePatients inform themselves online, for example on health websites or via YouTube about treatment procedures

In this way, the new digital patients are gaining more and more market power.

Limitations of digital patients

Patients are becoming more and more independent in their decisions. They are primarily limited by the healthcare system, which, compared to countries such as Estonia, Finland and Norway, is only slowly making the step into the digital world.

This is also reflected in the numbers. Only seven percent of Internet users in Germany use electronic healthcare services. The reason for this, however, is by no means the lack of demand from patients, but rather the limited range of electronic health services and the lack of acceptance among practitioners and hospitals.

Nevertheless, a significant increase in digital health services can be observed. In particular, the electronic health files from various health insurance companies, video consultation hours in medical practices and the integration of online appointment options should be mentioned.

Importance of digital patients for the dental laboratory

Dental laboratories need to adapt to the new ePatients. Due to their growing market power, these can be seen as a new target group for dental laboratories, which has yet to be developed, because patients have the opportunity not only to find out about dental practices but also about dental laboratories, to compare and evaluate them.

So far, the dental laboratory has tended to operate from the background: the communication primarily takes place between the dental practice and the patient. Thanks to the improved information situation of patients and their need to get an idea for themselves, dental laboratories now have the opportunity to step out of the shadow of the dental practices and ensure a presence with the patients: because hardly anyone is aware that patients not only have a free choice among the practitioners, but also among the dental laboratories. As already mentioned in one of our articles “Demographic change in the dental laboratory”, dental laboratories are thus being transformed from mere contractors into partners on equal terms.


The concern among dental laboratories that digital dental technology will generate less added value is always present. However, digitization does not only entail risks for dental laboratories, but also great opportunities. You no longer have to commit yourself to dentists when acquiring clients. Due to the increasing health awareness in the population and the knowledge of patients, it is now important to open up this new target group and to use the opportunities that this offers.

Who knows! Perhaps the patient's desire to receive dentures from your laboratory will also bring you a new dentist. Digital patients may support you in acquiring new customers.