The majority of Americans in the dental industry were not familiar with telehealth or teledentistry before the Covid-19 pandemic. Covid-19 is teaching doctors and patients alike about teledentistry and its multiple benefits. Teledentistry allows a dental practice to expand beyond the walls of a physical office and reach more people in less time. Not only is teledentistry effective and convenient, but it’s also much safer than crowding patients in waiting rooms. This budding industry is experiencing significant growth over the past year and as we embark on the first quarter of 2021, we are seeing the adoption of teledentistry nationwide expand even more.
As technology advances and more and more, dentists are choosing to incorporate teledentistry as part of their daily process. Practices are seeing a great increase in productivity and profit as a result of telemedicine. Dental professionals across the country are beginning to understand how this technology works and enjoying its unexpected benefits.
Dentists are among the most feared by patients. Many people have had a negative experience at a dentist’s office, likely in childhood. However, teeth need regular care and maintenance to avoid serious problems like gum disease and gingivitis. Teledentistry can provide a friendly and painless first interaction between patient and dentist. It is not only an ice breaker but it helps dentists build rapport with their patients. It is not always easy and comfortable for a patient to succumb to a painful experience with a dentist especially when the dentist may be perceived as a stranger. This is especially true for children. 15 minutes over a telehealth consultation can bring the relationship between dentists and patients far away. It is also billable and covered by most insurances.
Of course, in-person care is always going to be the most thorough. But for maintenance, checkups, emergency triage, and general care, teledentistry can make a big difference. It is less disruptive and efficient.
The Future of Dentistry
Dentists work in one of the riskiest positions in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic because of the exposure to bodily fluids. Working within someone’s mouth in the heat of a respiratory pandemic is not a walk in the park. Many dental practices are struggling with patient and employee retention. From the front desk to the x-ray room, dental assistants and hygienists aren’t keen on being potentially exposed all day to the virus.
Dentists are faced with the reality of costly PPE, additional time needed to disinfect rooms, and the mandated requirement to see fewer patients. Teledentistry is a safe and convenient solution to mitigate the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on dentists. It allows dentists to boost their dental practices’ client base as they can serve a larger geographical area.
People still experience dental emergencies and need regular checkups regardless of a global pandemic. Additionally, if a patient has been on a healing journey, like with an implant, for example, this requires regular visits to the dentist to monitor healing and progress. With many offices still shut down and many others severely understaffed, this may pose a risk to the patient base. With teledentistry applications like Jet Virtual Consults, dentists can visit with their patients and monitor their progress from the safety of their homes. In the event that further care is required and the need for in-person examination/procedure occurs, these types of visits can be reserved for more involved procedures as they require PPE, sterilization, and additional staffing. These procedures are more time-consuming but yet a lot more profitable to the dental practice. Teledentistry is especially helpful to keep everyone involved safe and the costs to the dental office down.
We have already learned so much from the COVID-19 pandemic but there is still a lot more to uncover. Consumer behavior is definitely being influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic. The increase in virtual interactions has opened up a myriad of possibilities for providers and their patients. The nation-wide quarantine pushed technology to evolve and develop faster than it would have otherwise. And with more people becoming more comfortable with telehealth and teledentistry, this is a trend we expect will only continue to increase beyond COVID-19.
Once the pandemic has subsided, teledentistry will have secured its spot in the world of dentistry. Some of the hidden benefits of teledentistry are the replacement of unnecessary in-person workflows such as triage, demographic forms, signatures can now be done prior to any visit at any time and from anywhere. This is more appealing to those who do not want to spend countless hours in waiting rooms. Patient records can be accessed at the touch of a finger, and patients can be more involved in their health and wellness than ever.
OSHA recommends that we “maximize the use of telemedicine for non-emergency consultations, and prioritize urgent and emergency procedures.” Going forward, this is going to create a work-flow in dental offices that ensures the safety of everyone while also establishing teledentistry as the norm.
To learn more about the benefits of teledentistry, signup for our free webinar. We are also offering a 60-Day FREE trial to try Jet Virtual Consults at no cost for a limited time only when using code JVC30 at checkout.