Journey Toward Excellence: The TDO Story
Journey Toward Excellence: The TDO Story
The short version of the TDO story is that TDO began with the commercial launch of our software in early 2000. The true story of TDO however goes back much farther than eight years or even ten. It predates our current location and even the name TDO. In fact, the true story of TDO has nothing to do with software, but starts with a group of concerned endodontists trying to better the state of our specialty.
Early in my career I was puzzled by the fact that endodontic surgeries had a 50% failure rate. So with the help and mentoring of Dr. Terry Tanaka, I undertook a microscopic and ultra-structural study of surgical failure using fresh human cadavers. Our study showed conclusively that there were two primary causes of surgical failure. The first was inappropriate surgical armamentarium, which lead to my development of a radically different system of microsurgical instruments. The second was inadequate placement of retro-filling material due to poor visibility, a problem that could easily be solved with a high magnification microscope.
These insights eventually lead to dramatic improvements in the safety and success rate of endodontic surgeries for hundreds of thousands of people around the world. The specialty immediately realized the value in the new microsurgical instruments I invented. Surprisingly, however, my decision to start using a microscope was initially met with skepticism and ridicule (surprisingly because microscopes were already common practice in neurosurgery, micro-vascular surgery, ENT and OBGYN).
For me and a loyal group of like-minded clinicians, it was our first lesson that excellence doesn’t come easy, and that humans are surprisingly resistant to change even when all evidence points to the need for it. Today, training in “Microscopic Endodontics” is required by postgraduate programs in order to become certified. But it took 15 years of lectures, training and workshops through PERF (The Pacific Endodontic Research Foundation) to get this change accepted on a widespread scale.
Then, in the late 1990s, my office manager Amy Taylor and I began developing a practice management software as a natural compliment to working with a microscope. The goal was not to produce just another practice management software, but to develop a truly integrated digital office that would simplify and unify all functions within an endodontic practice. At the same time we hoped to create a disciplined way of collecting data that would allow for a scientific analysis of endodontic outcomes as well as provide standardized evidence-based endodontic protocols, which are solely needed in our specialty.
We began testing Version 1.01 of TDO in 1998. Thirty dedicated endodontic specialists culled from prior PERF faculty members volunteered to be the beta testers. After two years of extensive beta testing and further refinement of the ergonomic concepts first developed at PERF, TDO was introduced commercially in early 2000 revolutionizing the field of endodontic record keeping. Eight years later we are preparing to launch Version 11, and in the future we will continue to regularly evolve our software to stay at the forefront of the field.
TDO – The Digital Office for Endodontists – is presently the most widely used endodontic software in the world. Through TDO we have built a community of quality-centered endodontists united in our search for excellence. Each day, I and my fellow TDOers strive to push the boundaries of our specialty—most recently through the “TDO Outcomes Project,” the first multi-centered randomized controlled clinical trial in the history of endodontics.
We hope that TDO improves your quality of life as it has for countless other endodontists and their patients, and we invite you to join us on our journey toward excellence. Only by working together as a group can we continue to advance our specialty and guarantee our patients the best possible care.
Dr. Gary Carr