COVID’S Big Impact on Dentistry: Teledentistry

Have you been on Zoom lately? Last year Zoom was averaging about 10 million participants per day. Now they are getting 200 million participants per day.

There was a survey recently about telemedicine that asked if people would use telemedicine for any reason to access the healthcare system.  Two-thirds said “yes.”

We now have a wonderful confluence of people who are used to video chatting and people who say that this video medium is a good way to access the healthcare system.

Enter teledentistry. Prior to this COVID crisis, I thought teledentistry was somewhere between a gimmick and a novelty. Now it’s a game changer. Many people don’t access the dental care system because of barriers, such as cost, time, fear of the dentist, or something else. Some people don’t think about dentistry until late at night when they are brushing their teeth. If they have a question or a problem, they do not always call you and leave a message. With teledentistry, they can make a quick video, upload photos, and send you a message 24/7.  The next day you can respond with a video chat to build rapport with them. If it’s an emergency, of course, you’ll get notified right away and you’ll advise them.

In terms of rapport building, marketing, and being able to break down barriers, teledentistry is absolutely amazing. It’s also very powerful in terms of case acceptance. By definition, a new patient comes to the office for the first time and they have to meet you and comfortable with the office.  With teledentistry, they have already met you (virtually). You have already established trust with this patient.  When they come to the office after a teledentistry consult, it’s not all new and intimidating.  In addition, some doctors are using that first actual appointment in the office for diagnosis and treatment, because they already have a relationship with the patient.

What platform should you use? I don’t have an interest in any company doing teledentistry and I know that doctors choose whatever platform suits their needs.

I am focusing on creating teledentistry protocols.  How’s it going to work? What are the mechanics? What are the expectations for you, for the patient, your staff? How do you capture information? What about administrative details such as insurance, whether you take insurance or not? How do you make this technology a timesaver for you and make sure that people are not wasting your time? These are all great questions and we have to work on these protocols.

I am gathering information and I want to learn from you and share information that I hear from other doctors. Contact me through my website,  Let’s start a dialogue and bring others into the conversation. The goal is to pull together the best ideas and protocols, because teledentistry is a real game changer. It’s probably the biggest change in dental practice management since computers were introduced into dental offices a generation ago.

Teledentistry is a great opportunity, and if we all work together and figure out how to use it to full advantage to benefit patients, it’s going to be one of the best things that came out of this terrible COVID crisis.