Tele-dentistry entails the remote delivery of dental services using technology. This practice offers the benefit of convenient access to care and is cost-efficient. The patient can upload tooth x-rays and pictures and get a prescription through email in tele-dental services.
As telehealth services continue gaining popularity, dentists have the responsibility of optimally implementing the technology. For many, the execution may be too complicated. Fortunately, this article offers some guides for you.
The following are some best practices for implementing tele-dentistry services:
Acquire the appropriate software
Before implementing tele-dental services, it is essential to choose appropriate software. Many systems are equipped with special features to streamline virtual appointments, e.g., sharing screens, capturing photos, and transferring files. The following are some features to look for in your telehealth dental software:
- Virtual receptionist
- HIPAA-compliant video conferencing
- Customer support
- Patient waiting room
- EHR integration
- Two-way texting and email support
- Appointment reminders and confirmations
- Payments and e-claims
What services can you provide with the software?
You can offer several tele-dental services, including non-emergency orthodontic evaluations, emergency evaluations, patient triage, post-operative evaluations, and oral health cases.
Get trained on the technology
Training is vital to learning what you’re working with. Though today’s tele-dental technology is user friendly, you will still need to be trained on it. Investing time in learning the tool will optimize the rest of the implementation process.
Connect with your peers already practicing tele-dentistry
Whether it’s professional associations, Facebook groups, or other online networks, try interacting with your counterparts already in the industry. Connecting with those experienced in tele-dental practice will help you succeed quickly and competently.
You can view webinars, join email lists, and connect with specialists and industry leaders.
Integrate the technology with other systems
Dental medical experts recommend integrating tele-dental services with other technologies. For instance, you could fuse the system with electronic medical data for efficiency and comprehend the data better. Integration may be difficult, but it will significantly improve the treatment process, by enabling quick access to a patient’s dental information database.
Moreover, the integration creates a single database for patient records.
Educate your employees
A vital practice in implementation is employee education. After you understand the ins and outs of the application, you can guide your staff. The better your team understands the benefits of the program, the better they can utilize its advantages.
Train them on how to use your system’s telehealth service. Training includes:
- Teaching them how to access the plan
- What dental conditions the program can treat
Answer their questions
The best way to ensure your team understands the technology is by answering their questions. Typically, when a new technology is introduced at the workplace, people misunderstand and overly question it.
Mere handouts and emails are not sufficient. You can use the Ask Me Anything (AMA) method, where staff members anonymously ask questions. This technique enables employees to be more forthcoming with their inquiries than they would be in person.
They can also use the answers for future references. The more you engage your employees with educational information, the better they will optimize their telehealth utilization.
Inform your patients
Communicate to your patients about your new service and let them know they can schedule a virtual consultation. You can send invitations as a unique URL via emails or text messages. Consider using a tele-dental service in your SEO practice for your website to attract and inform potential patients.
Tele-dental technology is new for both you and your patients so you can offer cost-effective options for their first experience. For instance, you could provide the first five consultations for free or give coupons.
Begin with one patient
An excellent way to start is with a single, familiar patient. Then conduct follow-up consultations after the treatment. A regular patient is preferable because you are aware of their medical history.
Starting with a single patient will help point out possible inadequacies in the system and discover an optimal workflow for your team. Add patients slowly as you establish your routine. Eventually, you will figure out how to adjust for patients with emergencies, aligne checkups, etc.
As a dental technician, you are better off using telemedical services for simple problems before taking up complex issues. For example, you can start using the technology to offer consultation and gather a patient’s dental history. Later you can provide services in dental health and hygiene.
Go short at first
You can offer short consultation services in the beginning and increase the length over time. Quick appointments will ensure service efficiency, as telehealth will be a new plan. For example, virtual visits can be 10 to 15 minutes long at first.
Gather patient information beforehand
Knowing all relevant patient information determines if tele-treatment is the best step to take or not. The process also saves time for the tele procedure. Besides, learning patient information prior will establish if an in-person visit is required instead of telemedical consultation.
Encourage staff and patient feedback
The best way for you to gauge the technology’s competence is feedback from staff and patients. They can help you recognize the shortcomings you need to correct to ensure better services.
Identify clinical champions
Dental leadership is a vital component in the implementation of dental teleservices. Consider putting in place on-site champions and leaders to drive the development and support of the technology. The dentists have to recognize and desire the benefits of providing teleservices and drive its development within the clinic.
Clinics can encourage dental champions by sharing success stories to highlight the potential benefits of the plan.
Consider offering it as a standalone benefit
To better implement dental teleservices, you might want to offer it as a standalone program rather than a fully insured medical plan. This distinction will help you maximize your telemedical plan’s arrangement.
Learn what’s acceptable for you and your patients
The rules and regulations surrounding tele-dental practice vary from state to state. Contact your third-party payers to be sure of what’s possible in your case.
The following questions should guide you
- Can you prescribe medication based on a telemedical call?
- Do you need verbal or written consent from the patient to provide teleservices?
- Can you offer services to patients in other states?
- Are the services only allowed for existing patients alone or new patients as well?
More importantly, read and understand your dental practice procedures, etc. Focus on regulations surrounding supervision requirements, scope, and all matters involving the virtual provision of services.
Make use of technology
If you want to enhance your platform’s feasibility, utilize modern technology. For example, nearly every adult owns a smartphone. Therefore, you could integrate a smartphone into your telemedical program to maximize its practicability.
If your program lacks a smartphone app, it may not be as effective as possible.
Determine solutions to tech issues
Not all patients will be well-versed with the platform’s utility, however easy-to-use it may be. While some telehealth vendors will offer direct support services to patients, some will not. You may need to train your employees to handle fundamental tech-support issues or to troubleshoot problems.
As tele-dental technology is slowly gaining popularity, its implementation can come as a challenge. It is an excellent option to better your patients’ service experience at relatively low costs. Following the practices mentioned will significantly help you in your implementation process.