Teledentistry – how to integrate teledentistry into your daily practice
Aalok Shukla explains why teledentistry is expanding the reach of dental practices and even associates.
In our first article we covered what you can really do with teledentistry. Now we are going to discuss how teledentistry integrates with your daily clinic model. The vast majority of dental disease in the world is undiagnosed and untreated due to access barriers. Now we understand why we need to embrace technology to augment our abilities. It will also help more patients improve their oral health.
Delivering modern care
Five years from now all dentists will practice a percentage of their time digitally. For GPs this is already a reality. Digital review appointments will therefore be the new normal allowing more patients to access care. The leading clinics and private equity dental chains embracing digital technology will consequently take market share from those that don’t.
Teledentistry is just as applicable for an associate as it is for a practice owner. Whether you are looking for an extra part-time income working digitally, or a way to grow and differentiate your practice, let’s look at the elements.
In primary care such as GP practices there are four elements they deliver to increase the health of their patients.
With GPs education can include birth control promotion activities. Prevention can include exercise and diet advice for diabetics. Treatment can include dealing with actual conditions, and referrals can include liaising with hospitals for further care.
In dental practices 90% of clinic time is spent on procedures or treatment. This is due to the high cost structure of the clinic, which necessitates this approach. Fortunately the addition of teledentistry enables dentists to offer a wellness model to their patients. Through digital screening practitioners can detect conditions earlier and deliver more prevention.
This wellness-based model is focused on helping patients maintain their dentition as close to ideal as possible through prevention, early detection and early intervention. Through teledentistry and digital appointments you are able to screen and detect areas of risk. You can also detect areas where risk is accelerating and areas of biological damage. Prevention can be delivered at home through fluoride, home care regimes, brushing and diet advice. This means the majority of issues are detected much earlier and then the patient can be educated on what appointments they need to schedule.
This is known as a continuous model of practice due to the continuous care delivered versus an episodic model where patients just attend when they have problems.
This also means that the dentist can identify dental conditions and explain them to the patient clearly. All before recommending and explaining procedures. This means clinic-based appointments are more productive by delivering more procedures and more effective prevention is delivered at home.
The way digital assessments integrate with physical examination is a complementary form of data gathering. Through teledentistry you can conduct the medical history, dental history and majority of visual inspections enabling a thorough understanding of the person’s risk factors and needs. The practitioner can clarify symptoms and the physical appointment is more productive as you know which special tests/X-rays and investigations you need.
This method of digital practice therefore unlocks new opportunities for associates and practice owners.
For associates they can look at creating their own lists of patients and even start setting up their own practice. For practice owners this can also help them start expanding beyond their geographic limits and start building a list of patients digitally that visit for their treatment.