In last week’s blog we touched upon remote/digital consultations as an emerging trend that is likely to be fast-forwarded by the COVID-19 crisis. The response to this has been very positive so here we will expand on the concept and look at how digital tools can support dentists both at a time when physical consultations are hugely restricted due closures, but also when restrictions are lifted and appointment books are likely to come under catch-up pressure to meet demand.

 

Remote consultation, or Teledentistry, has been a developing trend, particularly in the US, in recent years – with some early adopters in the UK and Ireland. It can be a powerful tool for saving time and money for both patients and clinicians and can offer a real competitive advantage in terms of care and convenience, across various facets of the patient journey.

 

Patient Portal

As a pre-appointment or digital triaging tool, software such as Aerona’s Patient Portal allows patients to book a remote appointment and submit a tailored pre-assessment questionnaire. This is then followed with either a voice or video call with a clinician where images of teeth and problem areas may be gathered to provide an initial diagnosis where possible, and advise on a course of intervention. This may require an in-person appointment, but could also be a pharmaceutical or oral hygiene education solution.

 

Remote consultation can also be used to provide a convenient second clinical opinion for patients, monitor oral hygiene, roll out monitored sepsis prevention programmes and provide ongoing aftercare and oversee patient recovery.

 

Patient Retention & Aftercare

Teledentistry can make a significant impact in patient retention and satisfaction in this way, adding a personal touch to your patient relationship and care, well as the clear clinical benefits that are offered by ongoing monitoring.

 

With further tools such as Design & Sign, patients are able to provide all permissions and consents in a legal, digitally signed format, and make payments online through credit card or bank transfer. The patient portal then allows you to communicate with them through email or an App on their phone.

 

 

Changing Times

The key barriers to adoption to Teledentistry in the UK so far have been price sensitivity and a lack of confidence from clinicians that patients will sufficiently value an online service. The key message is that it is an enhancement of clinical contact, not a replacement for it.

 

One of the many consequences of the current crisis is that confidence in online service provision is already transformed and will continue to be normalised across much of the population. Such massive disruption will inevitably leave a legacy of changed patient and consumer behaviour.

 

The digital tools already exist in software such as AeronaClinic; the clinical skills have always been there; and the market is changing before our eyes.  Amidst all of this change, patient needs are a constant, and we must develop new ways of meeting them both now, in crisis; and in a potentially busy period to follow.

 

Find out more about how you can prepare from the Aerona team.