IDS 2019: Being the Davos of dentistry is not without its challenges

From left to right, Frank A. Schloße (sales executive at Telekom Healthcare), Mark Stephen Pace (Chairman of the Board of the Association of the German Dental Industry), Gundula Gause (television journalist) and Gerald Böse (CEO of Koelnmesse). (Photograph: Koelnmesse)
By Dental Tribune International
January 28, 2019

BONN, Germany: With the 38th International Dental Show (IDS) starting on 12 March in Cologne in Germany, the organisers invited journalists to the IDS European trade press conference on 23 January at the Telekom Design Gallery in Bonn. At the event, speakers and special guests discussed and presented the market developments and industry trends that will shape the forthcoming edition of the world’s largest dental fair.

The official IDS European press event has typically taken place in the December prior to the biennial event. Holding the press conference in January was not the only break with tradition in relation to IDS 2019; indeed, other changes can be expected. From the addition of an entire exhibition hall to a brand-new parking facility and logistical centre, complete with customs processing capabilities, the organisers said infrastructure developments at the Koelnmesse grounds will improve the overall trade fair experience for exhibitors and visitors alike. In terms of what they can expect to see in the halls, the newest advancements regarding further digitisation of dental practice await those preparing for their trip to the city of Cologne.

Industry press representatives were welcomed at the event by German television personality Gundula Gause and by representatives of IDS organisers Koelnmesse and the Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Dental-Industrie. With the audience seated in the cutting-edge Telekom Design Gallery, itself a showcase for digital and technological innovation, the stage was set for an introduction to IDS 2019.

Frank A. Schloße of the German telecommunications giant began the conference proceedings by giving attendees a summary of current and potential future trends in technological development in the healthcare sector. Schloße called for what he described as digital standards and commented that putting the patient at the centre of technological developments will be the key to realising the full benefits of digitisation: the advantages of these technological advancements must extend to outside of the medical practice, Schloße said.

Next on the podium was market analyst Dr Bernd Rebmann of the Rebmann Research group, which specialises in tracking the healthcare market. The dental market, Rebmann pointed out, is currently a particularly exciting case within the wider global healthcare sector because it has been seen to be taking the lead in implementing digitalisation in the practice. And yet the IDS organisers are treating the topic with caution.

“[IDS is the] Davos of the dental industry,” said Koelnmesse CEO Gerald Böse, likening the Cologne event to the unassuming Swiss alpine town that boasts mega financial clout through its hosting of the annual World Economic Forum. For Böse, the level of internationalism at the heart of IDS and the quality and depth of its industry coverage make it an obvious leader in worldwide dental events. But this status now comes with the challenge of accurately representing the digitalisation of dental practice at the exhibition.

This challenge is not without its pitfalls, commented Dr Peter Engel, president of Germany’s federal association of dentists (Bundeszahnärztekammer). “IDS will be—as it already was in 2017—characterised by digitisation, this time with an even stronger emphasis,” he explained. Engel told press representatives that the advancement of digitisation cannot be stopped and added the following caveat: while being embraced, the progress of digitisation in dentistry must also be critically evaluated. Engel mused: “Which new digital technologies are actually having a positive impact for dentists? What is a ‘must have’, and what could be better described as a ‘nice to have’?”

Engel commented that, for him, it remains of the utmost importance to approach the topic of digitisation with careful consideration of its impact on the ethical principles of dental practice. “One can easily gain the impression that new technologies are, by default, capable of replacing established ones,” he said. Engel then pointed out the example of the essential doctor–patient relationship, which, he concluded, is unlikely to be replaced by digital technologies any time soon.

While fully embracing the new advancements in dentistry, the event organisers made it clear that the subtleties of dental practice will not be forgotten on the show floor at IDS 2019. Summing up the discussion, Mark Stephen Pace, Chairman of the Board of the Association of the German Dental Industry, commented that “trade fairs bring people together. IDS is, as the worldwide leader in dental exhibitions, always a nose ahead.” Visitors to the show can also expect a focus on 3-D printing, which Pace called a “game-changer that could make dentistry competitive once again”.

In terms of arrangements, the event organisers said that a decision was made to expand the exhibition space into Hall 5 in accordance with high visitor and exhibitor demand. Besides a large food court, Hall 5 will house, among others, some of the stands held by larger companies in the field of consumer prophylaxis . Hall 5 is centrally located at the Koelnmesse grounds and its integration into IDS means that the entry boulevard can be utilised to reach nearby parking facilities, the bus station and the new visitor car park. The organisers said that IDS 2019, with Halls 2, 3, 4, 5, 10 and 11, will cover around 170,000 m².

Visitors and exhibitors can already download the official IDS app and begin to explore the halls before arriving in Cologne. The app, which can be downloaded free from the App Store and Google Play, offers users an interactive view of the exhibition areas and a number of tools designed to help visitors make the most of their days at the event. With the app, users can calculate fast routes between stands and halls and utilise the messaging function to contact exhibitors before and during show hours.

It was clear from the press conference that IDS 2019 will be bigger and more international than the previous event in 2017, when 155,000 trade visitors were received. The organisers expect around 2,300 exhibiting companies from over 60 countries, and well over 70 per cent of all exhibitors will come from abroad—an indication of the international character of the trade fair. In the halls, visitors can expect to see and experience the latest dental equipment and software solutions and can look forward to an exciting week from 12 to 16 March.

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