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Interview: “Patients will become fans of their dentists when they feel like they are in good hands”

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Dipl.-Ing. Peter Malata has served as W&H President for over twenty years. (Photograph: W&H)
Kasper Mussche, DTI

By Kasper Mussche, DTI

Wed. 2. May 2018

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After joining the family business in 1984, engineering graduate Peter Malata followed in his father’s footsteps as W&H’s president in 1996. Since 1890, the now family-owned W&H is one of the leading manufacturers of dental precision instruments and devices in the world. Currently, W&H has around 1,100 employees worldwide, two production sites in Bürmoos in Austria, one in Brusaporto in Italy, and a total of 19 subsidiaries in Europe, Asia and North America. Dental Tribune Online spoke with W&H President Peter Malata about the company’s history, vision and its ADDE sponsorship.

First of all, congratulations on winning the National State Prize for Innovation for your Primea Advanced Air turbine! What other W&H highlights have there been lately?
As a company, we focus on innovation, as such, we are proud to have launched technology that has made a significant impact in the dental market. We received the National State Prize for Innovation for our new dental turbine generation, Primea Advanced Air, but also for the LED-technology in our turbines and contra-angle handpieces. We can proudly say that our surgical device, Implantmed, as well as our latest piezo surgery unit, Piezomed, have also been very well-received by oral surgeons. The technology of speed-increasing contra-angle handpieces was developed by W&H, just like its state-of-the-art push-button technology.

What role does W&H play in the digitalisation of dental practices?
We help the dentist and practice staff with smart products that support a digital workflow. For instance, our connectable Lisa steriliser and Assistina 3x3 unit help document the dentist’s daily routine of reprocessing and infection control. These instruments also allow for the integration of process data into different practice management systems. Based on the positive feedback from different markets, such as France, W&H is convinced that digital solutions will play a major role in the dental practices and clinics of tomorrow.

The new W&H campaign’s catchphrase is “From a patient to a fan”. What is the message you want to convey here?
Our goal is to provide dental instruments and solutions that facilitate a dentist’s daily work. New technology simplifies a dentist’s work, which in turn reduces patient anxiety and stress. I do not think people will ever enjoy going to the dentist, but they will feel well-received and less stressed when they are treated with advanced technology. Therefore, patients will become fans of their dentists when they feel like they’re in good hands.

Have you noticed a specific kind of development for W&H as a company?
W&H is developing positively worldwide and the markets in the Far East especially have developed very strongly in recent years. Our activities in this area started years ago with the founding of our subsidiary in China in 2010. Recently, we opened a new branch in India and strengthened the market activities of our Indian subsidiary. We are currently experiencing significant growth of our W&H products in these markets.

In March 2018, we acquired the Swedish company Osstell AB. Osstell is well-known for its patented ISQ (Implant Stability Quotient) technology. We had already been cooperating successfully with Osstell since September 2016 and created the latest generation of the Implantmed together. The Implantmed is the world's first surgical device with integrated implant stability measurement abilities. With its recent incorporation into our global W&H Group, our aim is to create technological synergies in the field of oral surgery and implantology and significantly expand our joint product portfolio in the future.

Does the W&H portfolio reflect any specific trends in dentistry?
We focus on the field of reprocessing and infection control and this market demands efficient technologies that support effective reprocessing and validated processes. In addition, we’ve observed an increasing awareness of both dentists and their patients with regards to prophylaxis and periodontal treatment.

I’ve seen another trend in the simplification of practice management by means of digitising, which further requires digital interfaces.

“People have priority” is both your personal and W&H’s vision. What does this philosophy mean for your entrepreneurial activities and for W&H as a whole?
As a medical technology company, people must be the focus. This includes building fair relationships with business partners and employees. Management and its broader team work together at W&H. In 1998 already, I introduced the so-called “team organisation system” in the company, because I believe that the best ideas are not only found in one’s head. Talking and working together on a task create good products that strengthen our global business success.

Why is it important for you to sponsor the ADDE? And what, in your opinion, is the biggest added value of an association such as the ADDE?
The ADDE, as an organisation of the dental trade in Europe, is a platform where the mutual interests of dental dealers are discussed, which leads to proposals and decisions that are beneficial to the trade organisation. A good example is the implementation of an EDI, a unified bar code. It is also a platform that cooperates with FIDE with the aim of harmonising standards and practices between manufacturers and dental dealers and, if necessary, approaching the European Committee to support the legislative council to release manageable laws.

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