FYI

Dentist blog from Delta Dental

Tag: Virtual Consult (Page 1 of 2)

5 surprising facts about teledentistry

It’s no surprise that the pandemic has brought a resurgence of interest in teledentistry. Even during lockdown, video conferencing platforms allowed dentists to have safe real-time interactions with patients.

But here are a few interesting facts about virtual dentistry you may not know.

The idea has been around for a long time

We tend to think of telehealth and teledentistry as recent innovations, but the notion of providing care remotely has actually been around for quite some time. An 1879 article in the medical journal The Lancet was among the first to describe the use of the telephone to reduce unnecessary office visits. And in 1925, the magazine Science and Invention speculated about how physicians might one day use radio and video technologies to diagnose patients.

The first major use of teledentistry as we know it was in 1994 by the Department of Defense, which started a teledentistry program called Total Dental Access. The program enabled referring dentists from the U.S. Armed Forces to consult with specialists on the status of patients. It demonstrated that teledentistry could reduce total patient care costs and extend dental care to distant and remote areas.

Nearly a quarter of dentists in private practice have used it

Polling data from the American Dental Association Health Policy Institute indicated that 24% of dentists in private practice were using and billing for teledentistry during the period when elective care was postponed due to the pandemic. Although that number has since gone down, the National Institute of Health suggests that the advent of COVID-19 nonetheless accelerated the adoption and use of teledentistry overall. Delta Dental likewise found that while the teledentistry peak in 2020 has dropped off, the usage of teledentistry in 2021 remained higher than before the pandemic. An American Dental Association survey showed that pediatric dentists and orthodontists are the specialists who use teledentistry the most.

Patients like it

It goes without saying that video technology can never replicate the experience of sitting in an actual dentist’s chair for a consultation. And of course, there are many procedures and evaluations that will probably never be done through teledentistry.

Nonetheless, patients tend to be satisfied with the sorts of care that they’re currently able to access through teledentistry platforms. A recent study found that patients’ satisfaction level with teledentistry services during the COVID-19 pandemic was 100% in the satisfied and very satisfied categories, with contributing factors being convenience and communication.

Another study found that most patients (89%) were satisfied with a virtual appointment. Satisfaction rates were high among all age groups, and the majority of patients were willing to recommend the use of digital, remote counseling instead of in-person appointments to their family and friends.

Teledentistry is a big growth market

You probably already know that teledentistry is growing, but the numbers may still surprise you.  In 2019, the global teledentistry market stood at a little more than $667 million. Before the decade is out, the market is expected to reach $2.6 billion.

Delta Dental offers a free teledentistry platform

Delta Dental offers a free-to-access and easy-to-use teledentistry platform for virtual appointments, Virtual Consult. Available to you as a Delta Dental network dentist, Virtual Consult is a secure and HIPAA-compliant video platform that allows real-time face-to-face interactions with your patients.

You can connect to Virtual Consult online through any computer or iOS mobile device. Screen, assess and provide aftercare instructions (including e-prescriptions to manage pain and reduce risk of infection) to patients covered by Delta Dental PPO™ and Delta Dental Premier®.

Limited oral evaluations conducted through Virtual Consult are submitted to Delta Dental the same as in-office claims, so you don’t have to worry about learning a complicated new billing system.

Enrollment is easy. To get started, fill out the Virtual Consult interest form, and we’ll reach out to you.

Boost your reach with Virtual Consult

Are you ready to boost your practice’s reach? Delta Dental – Virtual Consult is the perfect tool to increase your access to Delta Dental members and raise your earning potential. It’s ideal for seeing patients remotely for urgent consultations, general questions and follow-up exams, all on a fully secure, HIPAA-compliant platform.

With Virtual Consult, you can:

  • Check in with current and potential patients remotely
  • Safely prescribe medication for pain or infections
  • Schedule and conduct appointments from anywhere with an internet connection and a webcam or iOS device
  • Save time by setting up automated patient communications

Ready to join? Fill out the online form and we’ll reach out with instructions on getting started with Virtual Consult.

Once you’re set up with Virtual Consult, remember to update your calendar frequently so new patients can find you. When your calendar isn’t up to date, you won’t appear in search results!

To add availability to your Virtual Consult calendar, log in to your account. Don’t have an account yet? Fill out the interest form to enroll!

The calendar function on Delta Dental's Virtual Consult features the ability to add single availability, add single appointments and add recurring availability to your calendar.
Editing calendar availability in Virtual Consult.

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Got questions about Virtual Consult? Contact us at virtualconsult@delta.org.

How dental technology can help take your care to the next level

As technology rapidly evolves, innovative new software and hardware have begun to appear in dental offices and schools around the country. Here are a few interesting and promising technologies that might be coming to your office soon.

Teledentistry

Thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, teledentistry has been expanding rapidly — in a recent survey, 34% of dentists reported that they see patients via telehealth platforms or plan to use it in the near future — and it’s projected to be a $2.6B industry by 2027.

A variety of services fall under the teledentistry umbrella, including:

  • Teleconsultation, in which a patient receives a consultation via a mobile device or computer
  • Telediagnosis, where images and data received from patients are used to evaluate and diagnose dental issues
  • Telemonitoring, where patients who have undergone treatment can be monitored without frequent in-person visits to the dentist

Along with making dental care more accessible to patients during the pandemic, teledentistry has proven to be a useful tool treating for underserved populations. Low-income patients, rural patients, elderly patients in assisted living facilities and physically and intellectually disabled patients can face obstacles with in-person visits.

While teledentistry has shown great promise, the technology associated with it can be challenge for both dentists and patients. To help, we’ve introduced Delta Dental – Virtual Consult. This free, video-based platform enables you to consult with Delta Dental members virtually through a secure, HIPAA-compliant platform.

Artificial intelligence

While the first thing that pops into you head when you hear the term “artificial intelligence” might be science fiction, the science behind artificial intelligence isn’t fiction. And it’s available to help you right now.

Artificial intelligence, or AI, uses software to process information and learn patterns. As it gathers more information, it learns to assess situations and then make decisions or predict outcomes. As a result, AI can improve your ability to detect dental conditions quickly and accurately, and consistently provide you with the appropriate treatment. In ambiguous situations, AI can provide you with a second opinion.

So far, AI has proven to be a versatile tool for dentists, with these applications:

  • Making objective, consistent diagnoses for issues such as cavities
  • Diagnosing certain dental conditions, especially ones that may be caused by multiple factors, such as jaw issues and canker sores
  • Identifying patients at risk for developing oral cancers
  • Creating precise aligners
  • Determining orthodontic dental plans, including how the patient’s teeth should be moved, how much pressure should be applied to teeth and where pressure points on specific teeth are

Extended reality

Speaking of science fiction, another emerging technology that might have seemed impossible just a few years ago is extended reality, which includes several technologies:

  • Virtual reality (VR), a computer-generated, interactive, three-dimensional reality
  • Augmented reality (AR), an enhanced version of reality that combines real objects with computer-generated images, sounds or other sensory elements
  • Mixed reality (MR), a combination of the two

These technologies have potential applications in the dental field, including:

  • Planning and executing oral and maxillofacial surgeries, particularly implant placement and head and neck reconstructions. For example, with mandibular and maxillary reconstructions, a study found an excellent match between the virtual surgery plans and the actual outcomes, including the resection planes and the distance between the transplanted segments and the bone.
  • Education and training. Immersive 3D training with haptic feedback can be an effective and cost-saving training tool. Particularly useful is the ability to not only simulate a procedure in 3D, but also to be able to feel how much pressure to apply during drilling, cutting and milling through haptic feedback. The virtual simulations also enable students to assess their performance and then refine their technique.

3D printing

Invented in the early 1980s, 3D printers transform digital files into physical objects by stacking layers of material to form three-dimensional objects. Today, 3D printers can make objects from a variety of materials, including metals, ceramics, plastics and plaster.

3D printers are so adept at creating dental devices that the dental industry has become one of the leading users of 3D printing. Clear aligners are one of the highest volume applications for 3D printing technologies in the world.

3D printers may enable dental labs and offices to produce dental devices more quickly, accurately, consistently and inexpensively than human technicians can. With this improving technology and the exponential growth of clear aligner production, it’s estimated that by 2022 as many as 500 million dental devices and restorations will be produced annually with 3D printing technology. These include:

  • Crowns
  • Bridges
  • Dentures
  • Dental models
  • Retainers
  • Surgical guides for implants
  • Veneers
  • Orthodontic models

These are just a few of the innovations coming to your office soon. New technology continues to provide innovative ways to help you improve the accuracy, efficiency and value of the dental care you provide to your patients.

Teledentistry is now available in Texas

On June 16, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas signed HB 2056 into law, making it legal for Texas dentists to provide teledentistry services to their patients. Among other provisions, the law:

  • Requires informed consent from the patient
  • Establishes standards of care for teledentistry
  • Protects patient privacy
  • Promotes care for underserved areas
  • Addresses teledentistry’s use in treating patients with special needs
  • Sets up rules for Medicaid and teledentistry
  • Requests biennial reports on teledentistry’s effectiveness
  • Empowers the Texas Medical Board and State Board of Dental Examiners to set rules for teledentistry

Building up teledentistry services from scratch can seem daunting, but there are tools and resources out there that make it easy. From guides on how to see patients to tools like Delta Dental – Virtual Consult that help you easily expand your practice, Delta Dental makes it easy for you to find success with teledentistry.

Interested? Just fill out the interest form and we’ll reach out to you about getting started with Virtual Consult.

Upcoming Provider Tools webinars in June

This June, dive deep into Provider Tools with webinars full of helpful productivity tips and commonly asked questions. Learn how to simplify and speed up your workflow with:

  • Online patient eligibility and benefits information
  • Real-time claim submission and claim status checks
  • Direct deposit sign-up and management

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

Get ready to be more productive and register for a webinar today:

Have a specific question about our tools? You can also schedule a 1:1 call.

Grow your practice with Virtual Consult

Is your practice ready to offer virtual dentistry to your patients? In 2019, the global teledentistry market stood at a little more than $667 million. Before the decade is over, the market is expected to reach $2.6 billion. You won’t want to miss out on that kind of growth.

But teledentistry isn’t just a great business opportunity. It’s also great for patients. As Dr. Deirmenjian, the CEO of Smiles West Dental Management says, “We firmly believe that teledentistry will continue to be the future of building healthier smiles.”

Setting up a teledentistry space in your office may sound expensive and daunting if you don’t already have the necessary equipment and a speedy internet connection. Fortunately, there’s a tool that makes teledentistry simple: Delta Dental – Virtual Consult. If you haven’t signed up yet, it’s not too late!

Virtual Consult is the perfect tool to increase your access to patients and your earning potential. Virtual Consult lets you check in with and diagnose Delta Dental members remotely, all with an emphasis on simplicity when it comes to scheduling and claims. With Virtual Consult, you can:

  • Increase your patient volume and attract new patients
  • Save time and money
  • Set your own hours
  • Get detailed training and support
  • Automate communications with your patients

Interested? Just fill out the online form and we’ll reach out to you about getting started with Virtual Consult.

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