Teledentistry is one Method of Getting Low-Income Patients Affordable Dental Care

October 07, 2016

The Doctor’s Insurance Agency provides medical malpractice professional liability insurance for healthcare facilities, employed medical staff, (such as technicians, assistants, registered nurses, rehab specialists, mid-level providers and medical doctors.

Among facilities in areas of healthcare that are growing, we are seeing increasing new groups and clinics in urgent care, hospitalists and telemedicine. Telemedicine has gained in many specialty applications, from the intuitive psychiatry and radiology (which seem to lend themselves easily to Telemedicine Platforms) to primary care, acute care and even neurological consults performed remotely using store and forward technology, or real time consultations from remote sites to specialists for treatment guidance.

With so many medical specialties using this technology to grow their practices and help them deliver their services more efficiently; it would stand to reason that dentists would soon follow. In Dental Plan Blogs, online, I’ve read that tele dentistry is real, and coming to many states; California launched its tele dentistry program a couple of months ago, and Arizona, West Virginia, Hawaii, Oregon and Colorado are among the states currently considering passing legislation that would enable them to offer tele dentistry programs to residents of those states.

Just as telemedicine connect specialists, primary care or mid-level providers, dentistry and treatment guide high resolution images transmitted orthodontists, dental surgeons or other dental specialists desks to the use by resolution and HIPAA compliant technology. When patients are not able to get to specialists: such as situations where members of the military are out in the field, the general dentist for any other dental professionals can receive treatment outline and guidance specialists using this technology.

Teledentistry is one method of getting low-income patients affordable dental care: with an emphasis on preventative care. The process is different than telemedicine which can easily and effectively be delivered using email, phone, chat or websites delivering treatment information:

tele dentistry programs utilize specially trained hygienists and dental assistants who are supervised by “virtual” dentists using real time technology.

The technology of tele dentistry expands the patient base by allowing these dental assist level personnel to go to schools, community centers, nursing homes, etc. -performing basic treatments that would normally be outside of their official scope of practice. They can even put in temporary fillings to halt decay, or do cleanings – they can now legally perform these procedures because of having a supervising dentist present.

Using Teledentistry, the patient has received a more affordable consultation because it wasn’t performed (not all of the work ) by a dentist.

Additionally, it is less expensive to insure a hygienist or assistant, which reduces the cost of the business model.

The practice can expand its reach without adding dentists to treat each patient.

A consultation may result in sending the patient to the dentist for more complex procedures after the tele dental workers have completed basic treatments…Still the overall cost is reduced since a licensed dentist isn’t doing all of the work.

Companies that sell dental equipment to dentists are starting to promote the idea of tele dentistry. The technology allows the remote dentist viewing the images to advise if and when an office visit is required, allowing for more precise scheduling.

A conventional medical malpractice policy combined with a scheduled physician endorsement where the premium is a function of the number consultations provides the flexibility and ease necessary for dental practices to embrace this technology.

Importantly, these roster endorsements allow for easy ‘ons and offs’ allowing dentists to cancel without expensive tail insurance costs to the group.

If a medical or dental practice has the assurance of knowing that the claims will be covered, they will be more comfortable adding the necessary teledocs and tele dentists to make this future of healthcare a reality.