Is telemedicine for dentists?
Tuesday, January 26, 2021
Telemedicine allows healthcare professionals to connect with patients remotely. Advancements in electronic information and telecommunication technologies have fostered the rapid adoption of telemedicine in the past decade. According to Doctor.com’s report on healthcare trends in 2020, telemedicine adoption increased by 33% over the previous year, and telemedicine funding is expected to reach $185.6 billion by 2026.
COVID-19 has been a major catalyst for telemedicine adoption. In response to lockdowns and closures, clinicians adjusted their practices to offer treatment in a pandemic-safe manner, and many implemented telemedicine technology. This resulted in a sizable population of patients becoming familiar with telemedicine. In fact, Medical Economics found that 83% of patients expect to use telemedicine after the pandemic resolves.
However, for dental practices, telemedicine adoption continues to lag behind other medical fields. What is the cause of this?
In this article, we offer an overview of teledentistry, telemedicine for dentists. We discuss the primary benefits of teledentistry, and cover some of the pain points inhibiting its growth.
What is Teledentistry?
Teledentistry is the use of telecommunication technology to allow long-distance dental care, consultation, education, and public awareness. In general, there are two types of teledentistry.
Synchronous teledentistry refers to the real-time interaction between patient and dentist through the use of video conferencing tools (i.e., Evaluating patients through a videoconferencing tool, like Zoom).
Asynchronous teledentistry refers to the non-direct interaction between patient and dentist through the transfer of recorded health information (i.e., Sharing videos and radiographs through a HIPAA-compliant messaging service).
Teledentistry offers various benefits for dental practices and patients. Some of the most important benefits are showcased below.
Teledentistry allows dentists to interact with patients in different physical locations. Teledentistry has proven itself to be a valuable tool for evaluating patients prior to in-person care and prescribing medication during post-operative evaluations.
Teledentistry appointments are billable! Many insurance companies accept claim submissions for services rendered using telecommunication technology. Typically, CDT codes D9995 and D9996 are primarily used for these types of claims.
Obstacles of Teledentistry
Like we mentioned above, implementation of telemedicine has been slower in dentistry than other medical fields. Below, we cover the biggest obstacles for teledentistry adoption.
In-person care is often necessary
Some medical fields lend themselves better to telemedicine than others. For example, many mental health providers are able to effectively offer care through videoconferencing. Conversely, the most common dental procedures, ranging from teeth whitening to surgeries, rely on in-person care.
Additionally, the ability to implement teledentistry often depends on the type of treatment a dental practice provides. For example, orthodontic evaluations are much easier to do through videoconferencing than periodontal examinations.
Teledentistry implementation can be daunting
Using unfamiliar tech for video conferencing and sharing files can be overwhelming for many dental professionals. Additionally, many dentists are concerned with this teledentistry’s compliance with regulations. HIPAA-compliant telemedicine solutions, like Simplifeye, accelerate the implementation process, and make it easy to conduct remote dental appointments.
COVID-19 accelerated the implementation of teledentistry in many dental practices nationwide. However, telemedicine adoption in dental practices has not kept up with other medical fields. The likely culprit is dentistry’s reliance on in-person care, which renders teledentistry useless for the common dental procedures.
However, teledentistry can be valuable for specific use cases. Teledentistry is an effective tool for evaluating patients remotely and prescribing medicine. Additionally, teledentistry adds an extra stream of revenue for dental practices. If you decide to implement teledentistry in your dental practice, there are several dental technology solutions, like NexHealth, that can accelerate implementation and management.
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