Normality is the greatest experience―“business can flourish again”
Vaccination and testing are proving to be a promising strategy against the coronavirus. The comparatively low seven-day incidence rate too will provide reassurance to those considering visiting IDS from 22 to 25 September in Cologne. Mark Stephen Pace, chairman of the Association of the German Dental Industry, is looking to the future with optimism.
Mr Pace, how important is IDS 2021 for you given the current state of things?
Our European press conference on 20 May in the run-up to IDS this year is still fresh in my mind. At the conference for the first time in a long time, I met personally with a large number of dental colleagues. I can tell you: normality is currently one of the greatest experiences there is. With IDS 2021, we will have another, even greater opportunity to regain normality.
But surely IDS 2021 cannot take place entirely like usual?
The trade fair will look a little bit different from previous fairs. As usual, the focus will be on personal contact. This is normal for IDS and will remain so. The coronavirus protection regulations of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, however, have set a new framework.
As the organiser, together with trade fair company Koelnmesse, how have you responded to this?
In line with the motto “show safe, meet safe, stay safe and visit safe”, we developed the #B-SAFE4business safety concept. It includes familiar measures such as physical distancing, compulsory mask wearing and online purchase of tickets. The tickets can only be booked online on this occasion; there will be no ticket offices at the venue. A new indoor positioning system was developed with Samsung SDS for controlling the flow of visitors. It will record headcounts and visitor density in the halls and make the findings available to visitors and exhibitors in real time. The associated eGuard smartphone app is part of our measures to ensure the highest level of professional safety. We have thus created an environment in which encounters and business can flourish again.
How will this work in practice?
Each visitor will download the eGuard app to his or her smartphone and use it during his or her entire visit at the trade fair. It will help users avoid halls with a high visitor density. Koelnmesse will monitor the situation and, for example, have security personnel divert visitors around such a hall until further notice, if required.
How will the exhibition stands differ under the coronavirus protection regulations?
More stands will have clear plastic partitions, and there will be no stands with information on paper. The number of people at stands will be limited, and in the case of a large crowd, visitors to the trade fair will have to wait for a green light to enter, akin to entering a car park. More objects will be on display in cases, but visitors will also be able to handle display items if these can be disinfected. Ultimately, each company will regulate this individually at its exhibition stand. In-depth discussions will be possible like usual; they are the lifeblood of IDS. In this way, visitors will be able to gain a comprehensive overview of current trends and state-of-the-art technology in dentistry, like usual at IDS.
I have looked at the list of exhibitors with great interest. Collectively, they tip the scales in our favour.
In your opinion, what are the chances that investments will pay off in the end at the present time?
After the slump last year, the chances of an upturn are now really good, because patients are sensitised. If there’s a good thing about the coronavirus pandemic, it’s that it has made broad sections of the population aware of how closely linked oral hygiene and general health are. This has culminated in the knowledge that COVID-19 patients with periodontitis have a higher risk of admission to an intensive care unit, of the need for assisted ventilation and even of mortality than periodontally healthy COVID-19 patients.
What does this mean for the dental practice?
Based on this knowledge, it should be easier than a year and a half ago to motivate patients to attend regular dental appointments and to be especially conscientious about recall appointments in the course of periodontal prophylaxis and treatment. Furthermore, there will probably be an increased interest in high-quality, optimally hygienic and aesthetically attractive restorations according to current state-of-the-art science and technology. There will be no better opportunity to acquire this knowledge than at IDS 2021 from 22 to 25 September in Cologne.