Expectations vs Reality of Virtual Dental Consults
Telehealth has skyrocketed since the pandemic began. Seeing 22% growth in 2019 to 80% growth in 2020, telehealth has become an accepted delivery system for medical consultations that don’t require hands-on exams. Furthermore, this internet-based delivery of patient care is predicted to become even more mainstream in the future.
“With expanded access and improved reimbursement policies in place, as well as ongoing acceptability by patients and health care providers, telehealth might continue to serve as an important modality for delivering care during and after the pandemic.” – CDC.gov
Virtual Dental Consultations Are Easier than You Think!
Virtual dental consults are a natural extension of the telehealth movement.
For dentists, the good news is, physicians have paved the way. The painful but expected kinks of online medical consultations were worked out due to necessity, during mandated shutdowns.
You may wonder how telehealth can possibly work for dentists. After all, you can’t do a root canal via the Internet. While that’s true of all dental procedures, some consultations don’t require in-office visits. Orthodontic consults, cosmetic dentistry consults, and some restorative consults may be accomplished with SmileSnap.
SmileSnap is your solution to providing virtual dental consults before a patient’s first onsite visit. By the time you meet the patient, she will not only be prepared for the treatment plan and its cost but she will also have been introduced to you virtually through a recorded or secure live video.
What Patients Expect from a Teledentistry Consultation
Your potential patient might expect a canned, automated response to a SmileSnap virtual consultation. He may even assume that the technology is a sales scam, aimed at providing as little information as possible from the dentist, only to entice the potential patient to schedule an appointment.
As consumers, we’re used to being reeled in by shiny lures. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
With easy-to-understand instructions and an intuitive user experience, SmileSnap guides patients through the simple process of:
- Answering a few simple questions
- Uploading photos
- Receiving a treatment plan from the dentist
- Contacting the office for a visit
Patients are surprised and impressed by SmileSnap consultations. The potential patient is left feeling satisfied instead of duped!
What Dentists Expect from a Teledentistry Consultation
With teledentistry on the rise, more and more dentists are familiar with the concept. Usually, it’s the younger, fresh-out-of-dental-school doctors who accept new technology with open arms. Older, more established dentists, however, often take some convincing.
Modern dentists face a number of challenges when it comes to incorporating teledentistry into their practice. For instance, they worry about the lack of contact with their patients, the insurance and billing restrictions, and new, ever-changing laws that govern how teledentistry can be provided to the community. Many dentists also worry about patients who either cannot access reliable Wi-Fi service or who lack internet literacy – particularly in impoverished or rural areas.
For these reasons, dentists are sometimes leery of relying on teledentistry. However, SmileSnap makes this technology much more palatable. Dentists can rest assured knowing that our software:
- Gives them authority in virtual consultations
- Is profitable and efficient
- Provides intuitive software messaging
- Is easy to adopt
- Is HIPAA-compliant
- Lowers overhead
- Improves case acceptance and new patient acquisition
The benefits of teledentistry are far-reaching. And because 83% of individuals plan to utilize this technology long after the pandemic is over, SmileSnap can become an integral aspect of your practice – not simply a tool.
Why TeleDentistry is Here to Stay
You’ve heard all of the buzzwords and the cliches: Teledentistry is here to stay. But let’s stop for a moment and look at just how the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way that we do dentistry.
When a crisis hits, barriers come down. Dentists who would’ve never considered conducting telehealth appointments before the pandemic were suddenly pivoting toward remote care. The American Dental Association even released a statement in May 2020, encouraging oral health professionals to utilize teledentistry whenever possible.
Even before the pandemic, access to proper dental care was problematic. But teledentistry offers a unique solution to this problem. Over the course of the last year, online healthcare increased nearly 2,000% in many areas of the country. Imagine how many more individuals will receive the care they desperately need because they have better access to dentistry?
One research study by DentaVox found that 78% of patients believe that they are likely to use teledentistry within the next five years. But here’s the most convincing thing of all: The cited study took place in October 2019, approximately five months before COVID-19 became prevalent in the United States. If so many individuals were planning to make the shift to remote healthcare before the pandemic, how many more are willing to make the change now?
The truth of the matter is, we must evolve with the changing times. Today, patients in your target demographic are shopping for groceries, buying cars, and even finding their spouses online. Teledentistry is just a necessary step on the journey to accessible dental care.
Benefits of TeleDentistry
We’ve already discussed some of the advantages that teledentistry can offer. But let’s dive deeper into the lesser-known benefits of such technology.
Due to the rise of companies like Smile Direct Club, consumers are making it clear that convenience is at the top of their priority list. Now, with teledentistry, individuals can take less time away from work – which means more money in their pocket.
#2: Cost Reduction
Patients won’t be the only ones with more money in their pockets. Teledentistry effectively reduces overhead by eliminating the need for personal protective equipment (like gloves and masks), reserving them for face-to-face visits. Virtual appointments also negate operational turnover time. That means you can see more patients in less time, without compromising the quality of care.
#3: FreeUp Time for Clinical Work
Consultations and post-treatment follow-ups can eat away a large portion of your productivity. Imagine how much more clinical work could be performed in-office if you’re doing the bulk of your consults remotely.
#4: Reduces Dental Anxiety
As you know, millions of Americans suffer from dental phobias or anxieties. In many cases, these fears prevent patients from receiving the dental care they need. Teledentistry appointments give individuals a chance to meet their dentist one-on-one, without the distraction of dental office sights and sounds. Building rapport in this way can help alleviate anxiety so that patients are more comfortable when they attend their in-office visits.
#5: Opportunity for Patient Education
Teledentistry gives you and your team the option to provide patient education remotely. This may include brushing and flossing demonstrations as well as advice or oral health product recommendations.
Our mission is simple: We want to make oral healthcare accessible to everyone. Our company focuses solely on dental providers because we understand that dentistry has unique challenges that are set apart from the healthcare community at large.
Our innovative Online Smile Assessments ensure that you know about your patients’ concerns before they ever set foot in your office. What’s more, your patients will already be well-informed about their situation, so they’ll be ready to discuss their treatment options.