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Yaroslav Zablotsky: Medical Marketing with a Song
 Willard marketing monthly

Yaroslav Zablotsky: Medical Marketing with a Song

By Michael Willard

At up to $3,000 for a single tooth implant, oral surgeon Yaroslav Zablotsky caters to clients with money. However, he finds himself just as much at home providing services without charge to aging World War II veterans.

On a single Friday last summer, the dentist held a wholesale implant clinic for 70 veterans of the Great Patriotic War. His motives were genuine, but not unselfish. He wanted to draw more attention to how dental implants give patients a better quality of life.

In fact, at his sparkling Kyiv clinic, Dr. Zablotsky refuses to offer dentures to patients and will only provide implants. In marketing terms, we would call this form of exclusivity a way of differentiating his clinic from the multitudes.

His clinic is different in other ways, from the moment you walk in the door to the moment of the implant operation. His equipment is state of the art. Every room seems surgically sterile. Every corner has a carefully engineered purpose.

But there is more. Zablotsky sings to his patients while operating. We're talking full-throated Russian and Ukrainian folk songs, modern songs, all songs. This sartorial talent and the Veterans Implant Day garnered him nationwide television coverage. It proved a novel way to showcase a dental field that is growing in use and importance.

Who needs implants? In Zablotsky's opinion, nearly everyone at some point in their lives, particularly in Ukraine, is a candidate for dental implants.

"In our country more than half the people over 70 don't have their natural teeth," said Zablotsky. "Unfortunately there are a lot of countries with the same problem. People tend to use removable dentures. It makes it difficult to chew and eat. It lowers their quality of life.

"Dentures don't solve the problem. Implants do," said Zablotsky. "That is why 45 years ago implantology was created." There have been some notable improvements in implants over the years, including the use of titanium.

"In essence there is no such thing as a tooth implant. The implant is the support that holds an artificial tooth," he explained.

During the interview, he tossed several sets of dentures and partial plates on his desk. "Unfortunately, large numbers of younger people are urged to use these. At 25 they get bridges, at 30 partial dentures and by the time they are 60 they are toothless and with full dentures. No clinic with Zablotsky written on it will offer dentures."

While advocating implants, Zablotsky also urges better dental care. He said worldwide statistics suggest that 95 percent of the people who lose teeth do so because of themselves.

"Good dental care needs to begin at childhood. We see the first reasons for later implantology when people are kids-when adults allow their children to eat foods bad for their teeth and when they don't take them for dental checkups," he said.

Zablotsky, who has been doing implants for the last dozen years, took a much studied route to becoming an implantologist. At an early age, he worked as a dental technician for four years before becoming a doctor. In total, he has 30 years in the profession.

He is he only doctor in Ukraine with a PHD in implantology and he has been honored by the profession by being chosen president of the 1,000 member Implantology Association. This came in handy on the day his teams did the veterans implants. He was able to call on many of his association members to aid in the numerous surgeries.

There was a period in Ukraine when implantology was forbidden. Zablotsky traces the reason to disagreements between several professors. There were those at the time, he said, who used bad materials in implants which led to complications.

While a single implanted tooth can cost $3,000, the fee can be as low as $700 per implant. "It is like anything else," he said. "In other words, you can have the Niva or the Rolls Royce." Leading brands cost around $1,000.

Zablotsky would like to see one of his clinics in every oblast center, and he has on the drawing boards centers in Poland and Bulgaria. He also plans on franchising clinics, and has just such an arrangement in Odessa.

While his implants are expensive, Zablotsky is not a fan of dental insurance because, as he puts it, it becomes "one tooth insurance", meaning that basically the reimbursements are so low it only covers a single tooth. He does favor insurance for preventive checkups.

He said that singing while doing procedures comes naturally, and that he likes to sing. "Some patients complain," he said. "They complain when I don't sing."

Michael Willard is chairman of Willard and international vice-chairman of All About Brands Plc. He can be reached at Mike.Willard@twg.com.ua.

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