Most Dentists Anticipate Steady or Increased Reliance on Telehealth Going Forward

This blog previously covered the rise of teledentistry during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic (here). Now, a new study shows that 3 out of 4 dentists currently using telehealth anticipate an increased reliance on the technology in the so-called new normal, or until the promised vaccines and antiviral therapies come online. If you have questions about whether teledentistry is right for your practice, it is wise to consult with an attorney who provides legal services to dental professionals.

Teledentistry: Expanded oral health care, increased revenue, better health outcomes

A recent report, based on a survey of about 2,800 dental professionals throughout 20 states, found that more than 23 percent were using teledentistry, while 11 percent of dental providers who were not using telehealth planned to do so in the near future.

This translates to a utilization rate of about 27 percent, which is consistent with the rate of dentists seeing patients via telehealth earlier in the pandemic, when practices were limited to providing urgent and non-elective guidelines in accordance with CDC and ADA guidelines.

While it remains to be seen how the pandemic will play out, the increasing reliance on teledentistry is likely to provide a path forward for dental professionals. Many observers believe the innovation of telehealth services lends itself to providing more cost-effective, efficient and equitable healthcare for all. The end result will be dentists providing care that enhances disease prevention and overall health.

Telehealth at a Glance

Teledentistry is primarily conducted through phone and video calls and allows dentists to provide an array of services, including:

  • Mouth/teeth examinations
  • Patient triage
  • Pain management
  • Oral hygiene instruction
  • Referrals

Although dentists are primarily using telehealth for prescribing medication and screening patients, the use of teledentistry can be expanded to more preventive services. Ultimately, dental providers who continue to see reduced patient volumes and anticipate long-term changes in dentistry will tap into telehealth services.

How Telehealth Supports The Bottom Line

The report also found that telehealth utilization supports the bottom line, particularly through the use of alternative payment models (APMs), which will provide additional revenue while enhancing access to care for both current and new patients. In short, telehealth provides a range of benefits, from expanding value-based care to improving outcomes for both oral and general health.

The Takeaway

Ultimately, teledentistry is more than a short-term solution to the pandemic, but rather part of the range of services dental professionals will provide going forward. The best way to navigate these unprecedented times, and ensure your practice thrives in the post-pandemic dental landscape, is to consult with an attorney who can help you weigh the pros and cons of telehealth services.