26 February 2016

Haruo Morita: The Technological Development Is Not Advancing Medicine as It Should

Morita manufactures top-class equipment known for a high quality proven over decades. The company was established in Japan, in 1916, by Mr. Junichi Morita. Today, Morita is run already by the third generation of its founder’s family. The company’s CEO is Haruo Morita, who, like his predecessors, strives to maintain the corporate traditions, which is known to be of fundamental value in Japan. In Japan Mr. Morita heads all trade associations related to the dental industry and is an influential figure and a reputable specialist. This year, Haruo Morita came to Russia at the invitation of Unident.

As we can see, today’s purchasing power in Russian dental clinics is far from its height. Morita’s products are in high demand primarily in the countries where specialists focus on technological capabilities and quality and not on the equipment price. That is why we started our talk with Morita CEO Haruo Morita with a most vital question – prices for equipment.

— Today, few Russian dental practitioners can afford investing in equipment. Does it make sense to invest in costly equipment in the current conditions on the Russian market?

— Let’s say that all tools used in dental practices can be divided into two categories — traditional basic tools and cutting-edge equipment and facilities that are still being under development and are periodically modified. Dental units belong to the first category, and their improvement today is already impossible. Technological innovations in this industry are rather infrequent. That is why the price competition comes to the fore and specialists tend to choose cheaper units. In these conditions, certain manufacturers try to differentiate their product lines in terms of quality, functionality and design. Morita’s products are known for their ultra-high quality resting on craftsmanship and rigorous process control. Our units are designed to create an atmosphere for the patient to feel comfortable and for the dentist to be able provide full treatment. All our tools are not only pleasant to the eye; they also considerably ease off the physical and mental burden for practitioners thanks to the optimal layout and arrangement of ergonomically-designed components. Hence, Morita’s equipment helps to create conditions, in which dentists use dental units in order to provide continuous optimal care to their patients.

Speaking about cutting-edge equipment such as cone beam computed tomography units and lasers we can say that they often seem to be expensive because it is primarily about innovative technological solutions. But such equipment is indispensable in dentistry for treatment and diagnostic needs. The benefits gained by dental practitioners who use such equipment far outweigh the costs. That is why our products are used worldwide. We naturally want to contribute to the development of the dental industry in Russia to enable practitioners to enjoy the benefits offered by our tools, not only in the context of prices but also in a long-term outlook for further collaboration.

— Which problems in the development and manufacturing of dental equipment need, in your opinion, to be addressed now as a matter of priority?

— We should take steps that would further bring us to medical achievements. It is important to explore into compatibility and upgrade of the equipment and tools used by specialists at present. Owing to the advancement in information and computer technologies, recently there has been an innovation-driven boom in dentistry. In some sectors, new venture companies are commercializing diagnostic technologies and therapy methods, equipment and systems that can be regarded not just as advanced but even breakthrough. In many cases, however, such ventures launch only one technology developing it as a separate business. So, we can’t say that they are always driven by the concept of “developing dentistry as a whole”. In this regard, it is important that manufacturers that historically follow the right ethical public health policies also make effort and actively engage in the development of products with the use of advanced technologies. Because nowadays the technological development is not advancing medicine as it should.

— The latest model of the 3D Accuitomo 170 cone beam computer tomography unit was brought to the market several years ago. At present, the device knows no equals and is still the most advanced dental tomography unit in the world. How long do you think it will remain number one technological innovation?

— Morita was the first-ever company to start developing and manufacturing dental cone beam computed tomography units. As the computer performance has sharply increased lately, several manufacturers have started producing similar equipment. But towards 1992, when we started designing this system, the computer performance was still too low and we had to integrate our own software technologies in order to obtain images suitable for clinical use. The core technology that was developed at that time is still far ahead of today’s competing technologies and only our systems provide an ultra-high image quality. Of course, in the course of time, manufacturing of sensors will cost less and X-ray units will go mainstream. But we aim at continuing to offer the highest quality providing for a top-class result – by selecting and including only the best components in 3D Accuitomo. Certainly, the balance between technical excellence and price will tire out at some point, as it happens with other products. But even in this case we will still maintain our current status and enhance our equipment to meet the needs of top-class specialists.

— As early as in 1964 your company revolutionized the concept of dental units. Morita offered dental practitioners to provide care to patients lying down in a relaxed position. More than 50 years have passed since the first unit based on the “12−hour treatment” concept appeared on the market. How popular have such units become in the world for these last fifty years?

— It took much time for dental practitioners to understand and accept the concept underlying the Spaceline unit. It was accepted into frequent practice after a number of scientific workshops featuring Dr. Beach’s idea that a dental practitioner should acquire theoretical knowledge and apply it in his or her own practice. However, a delay in the execution of appropriate documents led to various interpretations of the “12−hour treatment” concept. There appeared numerous units offered by different manufacturers that picked up the idea, which triggered off some kind of boom. Simplified systems came into use, which earlier stayed in the background during the technological upsurge in the 1970−s and later.

In the 1960−70s, the number of dental practitioners who understood the value of this concept started growing worldwide, alongside the appearance of related educational institutions. Little by little, people got used to a situation where a dentist works in a sitting position upon a patient lying down on his or her back. But after the Japanese yen sharply rose in value in the mid 1980−s, prices for Spaceline units abroad became too high and the number of our units in use decreased. Moreover, as this concept was widely counterfeited by many manufacturers in a superficial way, dentists started suffering from backache and could not provide high-quality care to their patients. This, of course, affected the dissemination of the concept. The Spaceline chair appeared on the market more than 50 years ago but the basic concept remains the same. We keep promoting it and developing equipment that we can sell abroad.

— Your equipment is supplied to the leading medical centers of the world. Tell us, please, about some current projects that are most interesting for you.

— Such projects generally involve parodontosis treatment and regenerative medicine. Also, we do much to develop services related to patient care, specifically, homecare, because the demand for such services is growing in Japan – the country’s population is getting older. In the foreseeable future, we plan to complete research that will show the effect of oral care on the general health conditions and longevity. This research should give rise to new dental technologies.




The interview was conducted by Irina Syngayevskaya


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