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Title: The outsourcing of dental prostheses in Gauteng
Authors: Pillay, Thirusha 
Issue Date: 18-Jan-2013
This study examined the perceptions of South African dental laboratory
owners, dental technicians and dentists so as to understand their opinions
and experiences regarding the outsourcing of dental prostheses in the
industry. The study explored the legislative position of the South African
Dental Technicians Council (SADTC). In addition, the study sought the
Dental Technicians Association of South Africa (DENTASA) opinion
regarding legislation and outsourcing practices in the dental laboratory
This is a post-positivist qualitative study conducted in the interpretive
paradigm. The study was conducted in Gauteng as this province has the
greatest concentration of technicians and dentists. Simple random sampling
was used to select participants for individual semi-structured interviews.
Interviews were conducted with three different groups of participants –
laboratory owners, technicians and dentists. In addition, a representative of
the SADTC and DENTASA, respectively, was interviewed. The data collected
from interviews was analysed using thematic content analysis.
Findings generated from the study revealed that where dental laboratory
services are outsourced, no formal contractual relationship exists between
parties. Contracts are verbal.
The study concluded that the dental technology industry does not operate
within clearly defined legal frameworks when outsourcing. It was established
that offshore outsourcing occurs infrequently, therefore having minimal
impact on the industry and labour market. Technicians interviewed failed to
see the potential negative influence that enhanced outsourcing volumes
could have on the labour market. The study established that domestic
outsourcing is widely practised and dental laboratories receive significant
quantities of imported work.
The study briefly considered medical device legislation as the South African
dental technician industry is reported to be required to comply with the
International Standard of Operation (ISO 13485) which will legislate medical
device legislation.
Dentists stated, confirming a widely held dental technology industry belief
that they did not believe that they were sufficiently qualified to carry out
laboratory procedures. The study revealed that technicians regularly consult
with patients with the consent of dentists. This is, currently, an illegal
Disclosure of who is doing the laboratory work does not always occur. It was
established that economic consideration was not a driver when respondents
considered outsourcing offshore. Quality was considered a more important
factor than price.
The study found that that no legislation exists in South Africa that regulates
the dental laboratory materials used. Therefore, the possibility of inferior
material filtering the South African market is real and the need for a
regulatory body is indicated. Technicians felt that there is no need to regulate
outsourcing in South Africa. Dentists, on the other hand, were ambivalent.
In conclusion, it is postulated that dental technology industry is in a
developmental stage and there is a need for the industry to understand itself
better. This research showed that the dental technology industry has an
inexperienced understanding of business practices. A greater emphasis on
producing a well rounded dental technician with the knowledge and
understanding of general business concepts and practices which include
legislation, regulations and ethics related to the industry is indicated.
Dissertation submitted in full compliance with the requirements of the
degree of Master of Technology: Dental Technology, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa, 2012.
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Health Sciences)

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