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Dentist blog from Delta Dental

Tag: teledentistry (Page 1 of 2)

Upcoming Provider Tools webinars in May

Are you ready to improve your productivity by attending one of our convenient one-hour Provider Tools webinars? You’ll learn:

  • How to set up your account
  • How to use Provider Tools to manage patient interactions
  • How to submit claims in real time and track them
  • How to sign up for direct deposit

You’ll also be able to learn more about Delta Dental – Virtual Consult, a new virtual dentistry tool that you can use for one-on-one video appointments with patients.

Don’t miss out — register for one of these webinars today:

Connect remotely with your patients using Virtual Consult

There’s a new tool to help you connect with your Delta Dental PPO™ and Delta Dental Premier® patients. Say hello to Delta Dental – Virtual Consult. This new platform lets you check in with and diagnose Delta Dental members remotely, all with an emphasis on simplicity when it comes to scheduling.

Virtual Consult is a video-based platform for conducting limited oral evaluations virtually through a fully secure, HIPAA-compliant platform. It’s ideal for seeing patients remotely for urgent consultations, follow-up exams or general questions. With Virtual Consult, you can:

  • Schedule and have video appointments from anywhere you have an internet connection and a webcam or an iOS device
  • Connect with new patients
  • Safely prescribe e-prescriptions for pain or infection
  • See patients with urgent needs at any time, day or night

Virtual dentistry offers convenience for patients, and it’s a great safe, contact-free access tool for dentists, as well. If you have open time in your schedule or want to see patients after hours, Virtual Consult lets you see patients remotely. Diagnostic exams conducted through Virtual Consult are submitted to Delta Dental the same as in-office claims, so you don’t need to worry about learning a billing new system.

Provider enrollment in Virtual Consult is now open!  To learn more, fill out the Virtual Consult interest form and we’ll reach out to you.

Cybersecurity for your practice and beyond

It’s easy to believe that cyberattacks won’t happen to you. Why would a criminal choose your office as a target over corporations with more money and assets? Big businesses have plenty of resources to throw at security and firewalls, whereas your office may only have a few basic protocols in place. Better yet, every patient record they get can be sold online for over $400! About 79% of all reported data breaches in the first 10 months of 2020 were against health care entities, according to a report by Fortified Health Security. Understanding what risks exist in your office and proactively addressing them will help keep you and your patients safe, especially with moves towards teledentistry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How data breaches happen

Internet-enabled devices within your office offer many points of entry for a criminal. Any computers, security cameras and tools connected to the internet can be open doors to thieves who want in.

Hacking and IT incidents are the biggest cause of data breaches, accounting for 69% of reported incidents. IT incidents include malware that’s installed by clicking on links in phishing emails or visiting unsecure sites.

The second leading cause was unauthorized access, which resulted in 20% of all breaches. This includes mistakes, like a lost tablet or folder of patient information, or intentional sharing of information by an insider in your office.

Teledentistry and additional risk

Teledentistry, while a fantastic option for reaching patients, opens a new door for cyberattacks. Text messaging and free video chat software aren’t viable options for telehealth, because all communication between you and your patients must be encrypted to be compliant with HIPAA.

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Health and Human Services has announced that it will not penalize health care providers for using popular video chat applications during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a few caveats. You should notify your patients that these apps can introduce privacy risks and you should enable all available encryption and privacy modes when using them.

While some tools without encryption, like Skype and Facebook Messenger, have been given the go-ahead by OCR for use during the pandemic, HIPAA-compliant tools offer better protection of patient data.

Mitigating risks

Although you can never be completely invulnerable to attacks, having strong practices can make the difference between a scare and a nightmare.

The first steps you can take to proactively manage risk are some of the easiest:

  • Wi-Fi. Only use password secured Wi-Fi networks. If your office wants to have a network for patients or staff’s personal devices, create a password protected guest network.
  • Passwords. Use strong passwords on all your office devices. A strong password contains at least 10 characters and includes numbers, symbols, uppercase and lowercase letters. And remember to keep them safe. Don’t create strong passwords only to write them down on a sticky note!
  • Software. Before buying new applications, rigorously vet their compliance with HIPAA. A company might say its product is for health care practices, but that doesn’t mean it complies with laws around protected health information (PHI). And when you buy software, make sure to install updates promptly, since many software updates fix security problems that could be exploited by hackers.
  • Physical documents. If your office plans to dispose of hard copies of documents with patient information, destroy them so that any PHI is indecipherable and cannot be reconstructed.
  • Team protocols. Set up and enforce security protocols with your team. Have a regular, holistic evaluation of your protocols and how well they’re being followed. The National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has a great list of tools, training and guidance to help you maintain your office’s strong security practices.

Beyond that, you can greatly reduce the financial burden of a breach by getting cyber insurance that covers the cost of investigating thefts, compensates for fines and penalties and funds lawsuits and legal fees.

If a breach does happen, take action immediately. Determine how the breach occurred and what information was affected. Get in contact with legal counsel before anyone else.

It’s going to take work and will probably be frustrating if you’re just starting out. But by implementing a strong cybersecurity defense, you’ll know you’ve done everything you can to keep your practice and patients safe.

4 ways Delta Dental is offering financial support to dentists during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a financial toll on dental practices around the country. To help you provide essential care to your patients, Delta Dental is offering network dentists like you these options for financial assistance.

Discounts on teledentistry services

As a Delta Dental dentist, you can take advantage of free trials and discounts for six HIPAA-compliant teledentistry services, available through Dec. 31. If you’re new to teledentistry or looking for new software solutions, these offers make it easy to get started.

Reimbursement for increased infection control costs

We are offering a $10 supplemental reimbursement for qualifying evaluation or consultation codes through the end of the year. The program applies to dentists in the DeltaCare® USA, Delta Dental PPO™ (DPO in Texas), Delta Dental Premier®, Delta Dental Federal (Legion) and Medicare Advantage networks. (It does not cover Medi-Cal Dental, CDPHP NY Medicaid and HSCSN Washington, DC Medicaid networks.)

COVID-19 relief loan program

Partnering with Lendeavor, Delta Dental has offered over $300 million in loan programs to provide economic relief for qualifying independent network dentists. The loan program is active through the end of the year and covers cash flow relief as well as interest savings. It also includes loans that you can use to acquire, refinance, expand or equip a practice, as well as to acquire or refinance commercial real estate for a practice.

Charitable funding for nonprofit dental clinics

The Delta Dental Community Care Foundation has provided nearly $15 million in funding this year to help nonprofits respond to the pandemic. These unrestricted grant funds have supported vital services, including dozens of dental and medical clinics serving low-income communities across our 15-state service area and the District of Columbia.

Good news! Teledentistry discounts and free trials have been extended

Back in August, free trials and discounts on HIPAA-compliant teledentistry tools were made available to dentists for a limited time. Fortunately, the discounts and free trial periods on teledentistry tools have been extended through December 31.

With coronavirus cases on the rise and patients getting more used to virtual appointments, it’s a great time to find teledentistry solutions that work for you, your staff and your practice.

How to execute a successful teledentistry visit

Delivering dental care during a pandemic is tough, due to social distancing and equipment requirements, but you can maintain safe contact with your patients through teledentistry. In fact, you can plan your interactions so they are valuable for your patients and effective in your treatment.

Here are tips for conducting a successful consultation:

1. Scheduling

Give yourself time to prepare for the online/phone visit, to review patient records and x-rays.  Set aside enough time for your session to discuss issues, conduct an exam, and explain follow-up care.

2. Documentation

Have your patient fill out forms (intake, patient consent) ahead of the visit.  Note any problems or issues the patient has reported so you can focus your assessment.

3. Technology

Make sure your videoconferencing software is set up, with a web camera, and use a headset to keep your hands free for making notes or to demonstrate procedures. You can have images loaded for viewing with the patient. Ensure that your patient has the necessary internet connection for the visit. 

4. Environment

Make sure your background is quiet, so there are no distractions during the visit. You can position a source of light in front of your camera, and inform your patient to face natural light or a light source so you can view each other clearly.

5. Examination and tools

During the visit, when you are evaluating bite and oral health, give your patient instructions on what to do to facilitate your assessment.

You can direct the patient to position a metal or plastic spoon for retraction, use a mirror (compact or handheld dental mirror) for showing back of the teeth and posterior areas, and handle a flashlight or phone light for illumination. Your patient can use a wooden chopstick for bite testing and frozen wet cotton swabs for cold testing.

With preparation and a thorough approach, you can make a teledentistry visit fit into your seamless care delivery for patients when they are unable to make an in-person visit. It can be integrated into your practice, such as for postoperative exams, to keep your office chairs open for productive in-person visits.

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