The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically altered the healthcare industry, forcing businesses to accelerate digital transformation to continue providing essential healthcare-related services. The outbreak created new challenges to nearly all healthcare organizations worldwide, including new guidelines and protocols, strict service limitations, and perhaps most prevalent, patient fears regarding the risk of potential infection.
Telehealth is an effective platform for remote connection between healthcare providers and patients and is a solution for when in-person visits are simply impossible. It bridges the gap between doctors and their patients, giving an advantageous boost to mobile healthcare. Providing digital alternatives to connect with healthcare providers has become standard of care, and such technology has revolutionized the dental industry. By improving access to care for patients and helping to reduce overall spend, Teledentistry can provide significant advantages long after COVID-19. While some dental practices utilized the technology pre-pandemic, Teledentistry cast a new light on access to care during such challenging times.
Teledentistry provides patient dental care at a distance, using information and communication technologies, otherwise known as virtual visits. COVID-19 allowed patients to speak with and see a dentist without risking exposure to the contagious virus. The two primary forms of telemedicine are Synchronous and Asynchronous. Synchronous is a two-way, live video conferencing call between a patient and care provider. In contrast, Asynchronous is a store-and-forward video conferencing tool that involves acquiring data, then transmitting the data to the clinician for assessment offline.
Both forms of Teledentistry are strategies that dramatically impacted the industry by allowing dental professionals and their teams to continue caring for their patients. That said, technology is a tool that enables strategy, not just a single solution. Below, we’ve listed some benefits of Teledentistry that have significantly benefited dental practices and their patients.
Improves access to care: Teledentistry eliminates barriers for patients needing a dentist and quality dental care in rural or remote areas.
Reduces cost: Seeing a patient remotely means the dentist does not have to use supplies or take up valuable chair time that dentist and their teams could spend on patients that require in-person treatment.
Provides more time for clinical work: Many patients have minor dental issues that do not require face-to-face visits with a dentist. Using Teledentistry to address and understand such problems provides more time for dental professionals to treat patients’ oral health needs in person.
Greater access to specialists: Many specialists practice in large cities and are inaccessible to rural populations. Through two-way video conferencing, dentists can communicate and refer patient needs to specialists for advice and recommendations on treatment options.
Less intimidating: Visiting a dental practice can cause anxiety for patients, especially young children. The ability to virtually communicate with a dental professional in your home can be a more comfortable experience.
To effectively build a successful strategy that leverages Telehealth technology, you must clearly understand why your dental practice is investing in the first place. Whether you’ve implemented Teledentistry to increase access to care, attract new patients, expand your reach, or reduce costs, it’s important to remember that the number one priority should always remain effective patient-focused care.