Teledentistry ‘viable option’ to replace some in-person consultations
Teledentistry rose to prominence during the pandemic – and now a study is suggesting it could be here to stay.
Research led by King’s College London has found that teledentistry is a valid option for first stage triage and even follow-up visits.
The team hoped to investigate attitudes towards teledentistry and highlight ways to improve its implementation.
Results revealed that the majority of patients were satisfied with the use of teledentistry. Dental teams also felt more competent and confident after opting for video consultations.
Allows earlier access
Professor Luigi Nibali of King’s College London is lead author of the study. He said: ‘As people tend to work from home, and travelling into cities less, online appointments are a solution to a busy work schedule, and to help maintain social distancing in hospitals.
‘Patients are also able to access healthcare earlier, receive specialist care, minimise time off work and reduce travel over long distances to receive consultations. This of course can only be applied to certain cases.’
Co-author Dr Payvand Menhadji said the findings suggest real value in teledentistry. Particularly when it comes to tackling the patient backlog.
‘For clinicians, teledentistry has the potential to triage referrals and reduce long waiting lists,’ she said.
‘It has proven to be more cost-effective than real-time in person clinical consultations in dentistry.
‘By giving patients reassurance, oral hygiene instructions and a follow-up video consultation to review the issue, it is possible to reduce the number of appointments requiring face-to-face contact.’
The study concluded that teledentistry, therefore, is a suitable alternative to improve access to dental services. The team encourage healthcare providers to consider introducing remote consultations into their patient pathways.
The survey involved around 250 participants, with answers collated from July to December 2020.
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