How is Invisalign Virtual Care helping to deliver dentistry during lockdown?

man using invisalign virtual careElaine Halley discusses how Align Technology’s virtual solutions are helping her keep in touch with her patients’ treatment progress.

Align Technology has developed virtual solutions that help doctors connect with existing Invisalign patients to ensure continuity of care. This includes Invisalign Virtual Appointment and Invisalign Virtual Care.

These represent the next level in practice and care transformation. They enable doctors to manage a range of practice services. Even when they are not in the same physical location as their patients.

Until recently, both solutions were in pilot phases. But their launch was accelerated to support doctors in managing their practices and patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The Invisalign Virtual Appointment tool enables doctors to easily schedule and host HIPPA-compliant video appointments with patients. Doctors and their practice staff can schedule a video consultation and discussion Invisalign treatment
  • Invisalign Virtual Care is built into the My Invisalign app. Clinicians can use it for remote consultations, assessment of treatment progress, and to communicate adjustments or concerns during treatment. Patients use the intuitive My Invisalign App to stay engaged in their treatment and convey progress photos to their doctor. The dentist reviews these photos on their Invisalign Doctor Site and communicates any needed instructions to patients. Ensuring their Invisalign treatment journey is on track.

Here Dr Elaine Halley talks about Invisalign Virtual Appointment and Virtual Care. She talks about what difference they make to her practice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Could you describe how you use Invisalign Virtual Care in your practice?

We use Invisalign Virtual Care in a couple of ways.

We have some patients who moved away from the area, particularly during lockdown. Then we use Invisalign Virtual Care to help finish cases.

Two patients had to go back to China as their student visas ran out and they were not quite finished. So we are in the process of using it for that, albeit with limitations.

It helps us keep in touch and provide the very end of their treatment. I took all the attachments off before they went, so that they could finish their aligner treatment.

We also used Invisalign Virtual Care for people with similar circumstances in the UK.

We need to adapt to – like a young chef who is leaving for a job in Cornwall and has recently started his Invisalign treatment. He can come back. But in the meantime, I can keep an eye on him (using the tool).

We also use Invisalign Virtual Care for people who want to minimise their trips to the practice. I am thinking of a few teachers who expressed they would rather come in towards the end of treatment.

I see some practices use Invisalign Virtual Care for all patients. For us, it is more patient selective. If it is not an issue for people to come in, then I would like to see them.

But for the others, we have the option and that gives us an enormous amount of flexibility. Which we embrace in these challenging times.

In terms of the workflow, we give the patients some retractors to take away with them.

The virtual care tab on IDS, Invisalign Doctor Site, gives you a list of all the patients enrolled with their compliance as a percentage and an alert when they upload new pictures and videos.

You can then have a look and send them instructions to keep going or to wear aligners for longer or to make an appointment.

How have your patients reacted to and complied with the tool?

The compliance level is great once they understand what to do. We have found that they need a bit of prompting.

The younger ones take to it a bit more easily.

What difference has it made to your practice?

It does cut down the number of visits for certain patients. It also means that regardless of circumstances, patients can keep going with their treatments. Rather than getting stuck on a specific aligner until we can see them again.

From a treatment supervision point of view, it is also very helpful to know that you have actually seen the patient. You’re able to keep the record in the clinical notes as regular supervision without taking up chair time.

What do you feel about the support Align has given providers since the first lockdown?

It has truly been excellent. I think they have definitely worked very hard to try and be creative with how they could help during lockdown.

What I have used right from the beginning was the Invisalign Virtual Appointments before Invisalign Virtual Care was launched. It is like a Zoom appointment system to make virtual consultation appointments through the Invisalign Doctor Site.

How do you feel these new services will help you during the second wave?

I think it helps us prepare better. We can also reassure patients that even if they cannot see us, we can still keep in touch and we can still progress with their treatments.

Why should other practices move towards this way of working?

It gives flexibility instead of seeing patients at every set interval. It helps tailor the treatment to the patient’s needs.

If patients can see you, that’s fine. But if for any reason it is difficult to do so, it makes it easier for the patient without necessarily taking up chair time.

If you had one thing to recommend to your peers about adopting Invisalign Virtual Care what is it?

I would recommend that they learn about Invisalign Virtual Care, and consider discussing it with their patients.

Invisalign Virtual Care is valuable for all practices.

I think it is important to know that it is available and an option for patients in circumstances where their treatment may get stuck and find the whole situation quite challenging. There is no need for it. Invisalign Virtual Care can make such a huge difference to the progress of the treatment.

Are you planning to continue to use Invisalign Virtual Care in 2021?

Yes, absolutely, it is definitely a valuable tool.

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