Telemedicine dentistry is expanding as an option provided by dentists. Learn what telemedicine is and what can it do for your practice, before your competition does.
What is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine, also called telehealth, is the rendering of medical or healthcare-related services via electronic communication when the patient and provider are in different locations. Patients can see a healthcare provider remotely, sometimes from the comfort of their own home, and receive a diagnosis and a recommended treatment plan that may or may not include medication and other therapies.
Telehealth covers many sectors of healthcare, including general health, behavioral health, counseling and psychiatry, home health, physical therapy, and dentistry. In addition, many health insurance providers cover telemedicine services. It's usually cheaper for the insurance company than a traditional office visit since there are far fewer overhead expenses to cover.
How Dental Telemedicine Works
In the field of dentistry, telehealth is a little different, but the concept is essentially the same. Patients can be seen in their own homes, usually with a laptop and an intraoral camera. While not all oral health conditions can be examined, diagnosed, and treated in this manner, it can be a good starting point for patients who are starting their oral care journey or who have minor dental care needs.
Advantages of Telehealth
There are a number of advantages of teledentistry, including but not limited to:
- Increased access to dental care. Individuals who may not ordinarily be able to afford or go to a traditional dentist's office may find teledentistry easier to access. Patients who are unable to leave home or work for an appointment or who live in a rural area without access to a dental professional can visit a dentist from their computer.
- Reduced cost of care. The overhead expense of operating a teledentistry practice is far less than the cost of operating a traditional office due to the need for less equipment, less staff, and fewer utilities. The potential for no rent or mortgage, and lower operating costs translate into reduced patient fees. Established practices that offer teledentistry services likely won't see a significant uptick in expenses as is customary when a new service or treatment option is added.
- Improved patient satisfaction and engagement. Today's dental patients often want affordable, easy, and fast dental care. Teledentistry offers flexible, convenient hours and locations, so patients can get the care they need as it fits into their busy schedules.
- Better flexibility for providers. Dentists are traditionally very busy and keeping up with a full schedule at a brick and mortar practice can be challenging. Teledentistry enables dental health providers to work when they want, from wherever they want.
How Telemedicine Is Transforming the Dental Industry
Telehealth is working hard to dismantle many of the barriers to healthcare access, including geographical location and cost. Dental professionals that offer telemedicine services are taking a leap forward into previously uncharted territory, where some oral health conditions can be virtually examined, diagnosed, and treated without the need for the patient's or practitioner's physical presence.
Dental practices that employ telemedicine can conduct basic new patient exams via the Internet, leaving exam chairs open for procedures and follow-ups from virtual patients that need in-person treatment.
What You Can Expect from Telehealth In 2020
As technology within the dental industry continues to evolve, you can expect telemedicine could become more pervasive than ever. New and established practices will be evaluating the benefits and cost of offering telemedicine services, and many could be jumping on the bandwagon in an effort to keep up with the competition.
As patients have an increasing desire for fast, convenient, and affordable healthcare, dentists could begin adopting telehealth practices at an unprecedented rate.
To keep up with demand, the technology used for telemedicine could also become faster, more efficient, and easier to use. Many more consultations will be able to be done via teledentistry than in years past as advanced equipment allows dental health professionals to access more information about their patients during the remote exam.
There's likely never been a better time to explore telemedicine and what it may be able to do for the growth of your dental practice.
Get Tips on How to Grow Your Dental Practice from Treloar & Heisel
As dental technology changes at a rapid pace, your practice needs to seek to grow with the industry. This can be challenging to do when your days are spent chairside providing quality dental care to patients. Using this article and other resources on the Treloar & Heisel website, you can find ways to help you keep up-to-date.
Contact us today to learn about the services that Treloar & Heisel offers that can help you seek to protect your practice.
Treloar & Heisel and Treloar & Heisel Property and Casualty are divisions of Treloar & Heisel, Inc.
Insurance products are offered through Treloar & Heisel, Inc.
Treloar & Heisel, Inc. and its divisions do not offer practice management advice. Please consult a professional concerning this topic.