Posted: August 02, 2021
Dental offices have found themselves in a uniquely stressful position due to the unpredictable environment created by COVID-19. Airborne transmission from the nose and mouth create safety issues for both oral care providers and patients. This problem was evident before the COVID-19 pandemic, and it has only intensified as of late.
The financial consequences of the pandemic are still unfolding and the industry has had to get creative to stay afloat. The use of telehealth platforms to reach out to patients as well as render non-emergency care is becoming not only a temporary solution to weather COVID-19, but a permanent transformation to the dentistry business model.
In this post, we’ll discuss how the dental industry is shifting its model to value-based and remote care, why that’s a net positive for all parties involved, and particularly how telehealth is keeping dental offices open for patients.
“Teledentistry” is dentistry that leverages telehealth technology to deliver patient care using video conferencing, remote patient monitoring, and mobile health services. Hybridizing your dental office with a telehealth program is a good way to cast a wider net using the internet, reaching patients that otherwise would not be able to access your care and expertise.
Telehealth has gained new value beyond the pandemic, showing itself to be an effective tool for screening and evaluating patients remotely. Embracing this technology allows providers to engage in more targeted patient outreach, reinforce healthy behaviors, and explore minimally invasive treatments.
A recent survey of 2,767 providers across 20 states found that 23% are currently using telehealth, with a further 11% planning to implement it soon.
Another study by DentaQuest shows 40% of practices saying they are currently or would soon be using the technology. The study shows public health providers are more likely (44%) to use telehealth than all other practice types (21%).
More public health providers offering telehealth services helps patients in underserved populations that experience barriers to accessible care. Likewise, those serving the Medicaid population are eager to adopt the technology as many such patients have not returned to the dentist since the start of the pandemic. This has led to providers seeking new ways to deliver care to them.
According to the DentaQuest survey, 90% of practices have seen their patient visits drop, with an average decline of 51%. Most dental practices refuse to allow the quality of care to suffer as a result of these decreases, so painful cuts need to be made to staffing and other essential parts of the business. Some practices are faring so poorly that they report having less than 15 days of operating expenses on hand.
Ultimately, it pays to keep in touch with your dental patients via a telehealth platform. According to Medicaid, 7 in 10 patients had an in-person dental visit within a week of their teledentistry visit. Furthermore is the fact that the cost of treating those teledentistry patients is 11% less than patients seen exclusively in-person. That savings multiplied is enough to extend the life of your practice. In an industry where it can be incredibly tough to keep the doors open, telehealth platforms are proving to be a business-saving lifeline.
Let’sTalk Interactive is a telehealth provider with expertise in the dental industry. Contact us today to learn how you can transform your dental practice through telehealth.