August 17, 2020
by Victoria Montisano, Connect2d Teledentistry
You have probably heard how Teledentistry can help you provide quality dental care for your patients and improve your dental practice long-term through a virtual platform. Although Teledentistry has many known benefits such as decreasing overhead costs, increasing revenue, and overcoming geographical barriers, a common problem remains that many Dental Professionals are unsure of how patients will respond to Teledentistry. According to a similar study on Telehealth, 83% of patients said they expect and are receptive to using telehealth even after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides (Kitchen, 2020). Knowing that patients are receptive, willing, and interested in using Telehealth, implementation into practice is not as difficult as one may think. Now that Teledentistry is of interest to you, you may be wondering about the next steps, how to implement Teledentistry into practice, and how to approach your patients with this new option.
Research and Familiarize Yourself with Teledentistry Regulations
Before reaching out to patients, you will want to conduct research and familiarize yourself with the Teledentistry rules and regulations created by the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (RCDSO). You need to ensure you understand the ways Teledentistry can be provided (i.e. through live video call, secure electronic communication system, remote patient monitoring, mobile health), when Teledentistry can be used, and the requirements for using Teledentistry. You may also find it helpful to speak with other Dental Professionals you know are providing Teledentistry services already.
It is also important to understand the suggested charge to the patient for Teledentistry calls. The Ontario Dental Association has suggested that dentists charge $76.00 for a 15-minute Teledentistry call (code: 05201).
Finding a Platform that Works
The next step is to find a platform that works for you and your dental office. The problem with many existing virtual platforms is that they are not built for Teledentistry services and simply act as a communication device for the Dentist and Patient. Finding an App or platform that was built by Dental Professionals will contain dentist specific features that will positively impact your Teledentistry experience. Regardless of what platform you choose, it is essential to find one that provides the best dental care and experience for your patients, and also satisfies your specific needs.
Creating a Virtual Schedule
Once you have chosen a virtual platform, you will need to create and organize a virtual schedule for your patients. As you will likely be attending to in-office dental appointments during the day, you may want to schedule online Teledentistry consultations and follow-up appointments before or after office hours. Creating specific hours to be available for patients makes it easy to prevent double bookings/overlap and ensure that all your patients will be seen.
Making your First Teledentistry Call
When you make your first Teledentistry call, it is a good idea to have a trusted patient schedule a test appointment to work out any problems you may experience. Once all is good, it is time to start educating and promoting Teledentistry to current patients in your practice.
Educate Your Patients and Promote Teledentistry in Practice
As a dentist, it is extremely important to know your patients personally and understand their limitations and/or restrictions. After creating a virtual schedule, you will want to begin educating your patients on your new services and make clear the benefits of Teledentistry that they will experience. For example, if you have patients that live in residential homes, have a chronic disease, or lack access to reliable transportation, explaining that Teledentistry can save them the inconvenience of travel is important. This will prevent avoidable visits to the dental office and save trips only for necessary dental procedures. Making yourself available to patients for consultations, post-operative follow-up appointments, and dental emergencies outside of office hours creates more loyal patients and a better patient experience for them. Overall, the goal is to ensure that connecting with your patients is simple while increasing communication, patient retention, and the productivity of your time.
Implementing Teledentistry into your practice is a decision you will not regret. Not only will it benefit your practice as it decreases overhead costs and opens up chair time, but it will also benefit your patients and their overall experience with your practice.
Kitchen, E. (2020, June 15). Telemedicine adoption and preferences during COVID-19 and beyond. Doctor.Com. https://www.doctor.com/blog/telemedicine-today-patient-adoption
About the Author
Victoria Montisano graduated from McMaster University with an Honours BSc in Biochemistry. She is a Dental Administrator at CONNECT2D TELEDENTISTRY, Canada’s first Teledentistry app. CONNECT2D TELEDENTISTRY connects dentists with new and existing patients on a secure platform, allowing dentists to provide virtual dental care. You may contact her by phone at 416.508.3176 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in contributing to Oral Health Group’s blog? Email email@example.com for more information!