Teledentistry: Sustaining Your Practice Amid COVID-19

Each passing day, more state dental boards and government officials are recommending that dentists close their offices and postpone non-essential care. According to the FDI World Dental Federation, dentists are at a high risk of COVID-19 because of their proximity to the patients in their procedures.

Dental offices across the country have had to shut down operations because of the outbreak. However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t patients to care for. There will be dental emergencies, so you can’t abandon your patients.

Fortunately, technology makes it possible for you to take care of your patients during this difficult time.

Caring for Patients with Teledentistry

Teledentistry uses technology to provide patient care without having them visit a physical office. Some methods of providing remote health solutions include:

  • Assessment: A patient takes a photo or video of their tooth or mouth, and a dentist examines it remotely.
  • Prescription: The dentists remotely write a prescription for patients in pain and in need of antibiotics.
  • Supervision: A dentist monitors the effects of treatments through mobile apps, wearables, or consultations through video conferencing.
  • Consultation: A dentist can transfer information to another dentist who has more expertise in a particular area.

A teledental visit can take place anywhere, widening your reach. For example, if your practice is in Phoenix, you can easily attend to a patient in Scottsdale who’s considering getting dental crowns. With easy access, teledentistry encourages patients who are busy or have dental anxiety to consult with a dentist in a space where they’re comfortable.

Starting a Teledental Practice

Taking on technology, handling your patients, and worrying about the pandemic may be overwhelming, but it will be smooth sailing once you’ve set up your teledental practice. Here’s how you can start:

Develop a Process

Learn which processes you can do remotely and what a virtual visit looks like. Identify every scenario and coach your team on it. Conduct a test run so that you and your office get used to the process.

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Organize Your Schedule

Determine how often you’ll allow virtual visits and how you’ll schedule them. Do your patients have to call, text, or request an appointment on your website?

Find the Technology That’s Right for You

The teledentistry software you’ll use must meet your practice’s specific requirements. Whether you’ll choose a technology partner or make do with your available technology, look for a solution that meets these guidelines:

  • Automated reimbursement verification: The technology must automatically reimburse insurance payments before a patient’s virtual visit is confirmed.
  • Integration with your current system: The technology must reduce redundancies of information, as well as store and send patient information securely.
  • Patient support: Patients must be able to use your software with minimal issues.
  • HIPAA Compliance: The technology must help you approach patient information privacy as stated in the HIPAA Security Rule.

Inform and Educate Your Patients

Send emails, texts, and posts on your social media, informing patients that you offer teledentistry. The concept might be new to them, so include a guide on how they can set appointments and download the necessary apps. Assure them that their data is safe and that you won’t share information without their consent.

The COVID-19 outbreak doesn’t mean that you have to close your business and open only when emergency dental care is needed. Thanks to technology, you can assess, prescribe, and supervise your patients even when they’re self-isolating at home.

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