The novel coronavirus has turned the world on its head, with businesses, schools, and health practices scrambling to pick up the pieces and adjust to new methods of operation. What looked to be record job loss for dentists has now bounced back up as practices slowly but surely open their doors to patients with significant needs. However, to protect dentists and patients, new safeguards have been put in place. One such stipulation is an increased reliance on telehealth services, including pre-appointment screening and virtual check-ups. This is how telehealth has benefited dentists during the COVID era.
The Natural Progression for Healthcare
It seems that every nook and cranny of the healthcare system has utilized telehealth and telemedicine strategies during the pandemic. Although ordinary check-ups aren’t considered essential, patients with urgent health-related needs must receive necessary care. Telehealth systems mitigate the need for physical appointments and instead promote digital options to serve patients without risking the health of any involved parties. Digital health startups have taken on the arduous task of expanding their reach and accommodating countless new practices at once. Renown business columnist Arick Wierson describes the efforts as tiered—from scheduling digital videoconference consultations to utilizing AI or similar advanced tech, dentists have adapted to social distancing measures with plenty of creativity.
Wierson hypothesizes that COVID-19 has pushed and will continue to promote teleservices as central to the U.S. healthcare system. His sentiments are backed by the numerous benefits that teledentistry in particular offers for patients and dentists.
Cutting Costs and Saving Time
For patients, particularly those in rural areas, quality dental care for common and uncommon oral issues may not be possible. Patients requiring specialist care may have to travel several miles to the nearest city to find a provider for their specific issues. The nearest specialist may be costly, but for families trying to stay in a radius of so many miles, the cost might be necessary.
Teledentistry eliminates the chore and cost of travel, enabling visits and appointments with dental specialists from across the country. For dentists, this can lead to fewer physical appointments and, by extension, the ability to treat more patients. Live video and portable x-ray units can streamline digital appointments, and help dentists filter out the patients who don’t need immediate care. Again, this saves time and money for both patients and dentists. Additionally, it improves accessibility for urgent dental needs, filling chairs and rooms with the patients who need assistance the most.
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