Teledentistry is Here to Stay

September 24, 2020

CDF member Jo-Anne Jones:

"The world of Teledentistry is not a passing fancy or interim stop-gap measure. On the contrary it is cited as one of the fastest growing changes expected because of COVID-19. Initially regarded as a promising path for access to care comparable to face-to-face for oral screening, especially in school-based programs, rural areas and areas with limited access to care, and long-term care facilities, Teledentistry is now a viable option for patient care.

The dental industry has been one of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic. Despite many dental practices being reopened, industry experts point to the fact that a complete bounce back from the pandemic is not likely to be seen in 2020. Many of our patients are hesitant to schedule non-urgent dental treatments for fear of their own personal health safety and infection control concerns. The rising costs of acquiring appropriate PPE supplies, modifications to the dental environment to comply with enhanced infection control regulations have all weighed heaving on the financial success of our practices.
So how do we ‘pivot’ and recoup some of lost revenues experienced over the last several months and above all sustain the loyalty of our patient base? As Albert Einstein so astutely reminds us… “in the middle of every difficulty there lies opportunity.”

Using technological advancements including telecommunications, digital imaging and video chat, Teledentistry delivers an inexpensive solution to the provision of professional advice and treatment recommendations. Teledentistry also minimizes risk by redirecting dental issues back into the dental practice where they are best handled and out of hospital emergency departments. Many of our patients have existing medical complications that may place them at increased risk at any time of social interaction and particularly now in the face of the current pandemic.

Teledentistry is a simplistic and streamlined option. There are a number of distinct advantages for the practice:
- Elimination of need for treatment room preparation and infection control measures
- Cumulative time saving revenue model
- Greater efficiency of scheduling
- Ability to ‘assess’ and ‘solve’ minor dental issues
- Engagement with a patient who may otherwise not have scheduled an appointment
- Opportunity to reaffirm your infection control procedures and allay any fears of scheduling future dental visits
- Review of outstanding dental treatment and elevation of case acceptance

There are a number of different formats in which Teledentistry may be conducted*:
a. Synchronous – Live, real-time interaction between clinician and patient. (i.e. video chat)
b. Asynchronous – Transmission of recorded health information to a clinician to evaluate a patient’s condition outside of real-time or live interaction (referred to as ‘store and forward’)
c. Remote patient monitoring – personal health, medical and dental data collection from one location and transmitted to a provider (ex. RDH working in a long-term care facility)
d. Synchronous – Live, two-way interaction with use of a delivery mechanism such as TelScope to obtain and deliver intraoral images to a clinician via email. Images are then integrated into secure software management system.

*Adherence to privacy, security and recordkeeping regulations must always be followed as with the provision of any form of dental care.

Either way you choose to engage in Teledentistry you will be better prepared to adjust to providing continuity of care for your patient base in the event of any future open/closure cycle. Viral pandemics are expected to be a way of life for several years to come. A time to make some positive changes, have an empowered team and offer your patients every possible opportunity to connect and be cared for. It is time to be proactive not reactive.

Acknowledge change and embrace it!"

~ Thanks Jo-Anne for sharing!

Meet Jo-Anne:
Jo-Anne Jones is a recognized thought leader and award-winning speaker delivering over 1,000 presentations across Canada, the U.S., England, Ireland and Bermuda. Jo-Anne has been selected as one of DPR's Top 25 Women in Dentistry and joins the 2020 Dentistry Today CE Leaders for the 10th consecutive year. Her frank and open style of lecturing complemented by the provision of clinical resources has earned many loyal followers. She may be contacted at jjones@jo-annejones.com

Disclosure:
Jo-Anne Jones is an advisor to Holland Healthcare Inc., developers of ThroatScope and TelScope.

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