As the nation recovers from the pandemic, technology will continue to shape the practice of dentistry. From user-friendly software and practice management programs to in-office technology and teledentistry, dental practices became increasingly reliant on technology during the pandemic and will continue to do so in the aftermath.
Given the costs associated with state-of-the-art dental technology, as well as the risks to patient privacy and related cybersecurity concerns. This article is a discussion of some of the ways technology is driving the dental profession in the new normal.
When the pandemic forced dental practices to shut down for emergency-only patients, virtual accessibility became critically important for providing patients virtual examinations prior to seeing them. Dental practices will continue to utilize the teledentistry model, providing for improved patient engagement and retention.
Today, cloud- and browser-based practice management software provide dental teams with seamless access to radiographs and other clinical data as well as intuitive workflow for patient intake, scheduling, contact, and billing.
In addition to practice management software, imaging software technology, such as intraoral cameras can be used for virtual patient visits, while patient engagement programs offer teledentistry through a patient’s computer or smartphone. Moreover, dental imaging capabilities have expanded dramatically with digital sensors that provide more detail, better diagnostics, and better patient outcomes.
As patients return to dental practices, many are looking to communicate in touchless ways. Dental providers can engage with patients virtually using methods that work for them (e.g. phone, text, email) and send online forms to patients prior to their appointments.
Patients can complete intake forms, medical history, demographic, and insurance information prior to their appointments and the information can often be automatically uploaded into the practice management software so that it is readily available.
As for dental insurance, sending electronic insurance claims results in more expedient processing and turnaround times, while third-party payment options allow for touchless payments by patients, which can improve practice revenues.
In response to the opioid crisis and to prevent prescription fraud, most states have passed laws requiring medical and dental clinicians to send prescriptions for pain medications electronically to pharmacies; and filling prescriptions electronically is touchless and saves time.
Why Data Matters
Dental practices looking to improve productivity and profitability need statistical data to improve practice functionality. From scheduling to controlling accounts receivable, a variety of cloud-based programs can provide real-time information about the practice’s overall business health.
As dental practice technology evolves, dentists will be able to provide better care to patients and also help their practices grow. The best way for dental professionals to navigate the new normal is to consult with an advisors (including attorneys) who have a working knowledge of the dentistry space.