It’s time to experience dentistry like never before! No matter how you look at it, the dental industry will never be the same again. Patients want convenience, providers want flexibility, and dental practice owners want to protect their business models from pandemics. We want less fear and more normalcy, while continuing to increase the bottom line.
In our society in the midst of a pandemic, we now need to take a closer look at how we interact with our patient, the consumer. Long before the world ended from COVID-19, the dental patient was already presenting himself with a more consumer-centric mindset than ever before, while demanding that transparency, convenience and flexibility be top priorities . Generational changes and innovative technology were two defining factors that had already revolutionized the way our patients viewed healthcare providers. Throw an unprecedented pandemic into the mix, and the dental patient now demands transparency, convenience and flexibility from us.
As industry experts and clinicians, we hope the following pages guide and inspire you in your practice of dentistry. Whether you read it with your study club, use it as a manual, or browse it yourself, consider it a guide to ensuring the sustainability of your career and business. The truth is, taking care of our patients has never been easier!
The bottom line is this: Dentistry was already ready to change. Change came – and then came – in the blink of an eye. It is now up to us to continue and implement this change for a bright and successful future.
You should know…
- It is estimated that there are now over 2,000 mobile health clinics in the United States.2
- In 2016, data indicates that more than 6.5 million visits are made to mobile health clinics in the United States.3
- With the acceleration of the adoption of telehealth by consumers and providers and the extension of telehealth beyond virtual emergency care, up to $ 250 billion in current health spending in the United States could potentially be virtualized.4
- “As the pandemic continues to heighten our goal of achieving health equity, it is clear that the future of health care delivery will never be quite the same. “5
Where we are
Virtual care and mobile delivery are currently revolutionizing the dentistry landscape and rapidly propelling the industry into the future. The concept of providing dental services outside the traditional four walls of a brick and mortar office is not new. However, recent generational changes and the residual effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have led to changes in the mindset of patients and have guided dental professionals to quickly explore non-traditional patient touchpoints.
The good news is that the idea of providing health care to the patient has been around for decades, but what is new is the way we deliver care. Technology, apps, cell phones and other innovations are making it easier to connect with our patients in ways we never thought possible. The telehealth boom of the last decade has provided both the basis and the way forward for innovative models of care delivery in dentistry. For the purposes of this article, we will use the term non-traditional caregiving to refer as a whole to mobile dentistry, teledentistry and future innovations.
Providing dental care outside the four walls of the fixed dental office is a win-win scenario not only for the practice owner, but also for the patient and the dental team. Non-traditional methods of delivering care offer benefits including increased access to patient care, practice expansion, and greater profitability for the dental practice while minimizing common overhead costs (new construction, purchase of a dental office). additional firm, etc.), as well as creating a model flexible business and career for the firm owner and team.
Innovative healthcare delivery models will continue to evolve, but right now mobile delivery and virtual care are at the forefront, going together like peanut butter and jelly: you can have it. ‘one without the other but they are better together! The introduction of telehealth in dentistry has enabled the dental provider to become mobile while remaining better connected.
The most frequently asked question about non-traditional caregiving is How do I get started? While in the past resources and support were limited for this, the good news is that there are now many reliable resources that have been developed over the past few years.
One of the most popular resources is Velocity Twenty22, the third annual national conference on mobile telephony and teledentistry, to be held March 3-5, 2022 in Sahara Las Vegas. This popular three-day event is for practice owners, teams and industry brands who want to usher in the future of dental care. With a focus on innovative technologies, mobile applications, artificial intelligence and more, attendees have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the equipment and will even be able to explore the mobile units as they are displayed in a display case. on the roof! Tickets are on sale now. You can find more information at nmdconference.com.
Along with the conference, other top resources include a professional association, masterclasses, panel discussions, podcasts, social media groups and more!
Read more: Avoid these potentially fraudulent teledentistry mistakes
How can I get started?
One of the secrets to successfully implementing virtual care is to keep it simple and start small. Pick your favorite patient or make the easiest appointment of the day and do it virtually! Then try again the next day and the next. Soon it will become a natural part of the clinical day. Make sure you get creative and think outside of simple live video chat – recorded video, text, and other storage and transfer methods are more convenient for both patient and provider.
The same rules apply to mobile delivery: keep it simple and start small. Start with a quick visit to a patient’s home or purchase portable equipment and have a dental hygienist visit the home. Determine what types of patients you want to serve (eg, seniors, families, millennials), to what locations (eg, home, workplace, schools), and how many days you will send a provider to the field. Before you know it, precious office time will open up, creating space in the daily schedule for more lucrative procedures or for additional team members or specialists.
Here are five easy ways to implement virtual care (in-depth discussion here).1
- Connect with those who are already implementing teledentistry
- Find out what’s possible for you
- Train your staff
- Start with a patient
- Encourage your patients
Read more: The value that teledentistry visits bring to dentists and their patients
Most Common Mobile Care Delivery Models
Mobile dentistry allows the dental professional to think outside the box. As has been demonstrated throughout the COVID-19 shutdown, the greatest advantage of alternative care delivery models is that they can be widely adaptable to the ever-changing needs of a dental practice and clinic. a dental patient. Easily scalable, dental offices that provide mobile care may be present in a state, region, or even nationwide. Here are some of the most common types of mobile delivery models:
- Pop-up clinics that treat employees of company facilities
- Dental concierge service in patients’ homes
- Specialized star models (e.g. orthodontist with both brick and mortar building and mobile delivery)
- Vans, cradles, motorhomes or mobile trailers
- Portable care in schools, nursing homes or at home
Gone are the days of providing limited services while going mobile. In fact, mobile clinicians regularly provide comprehensive services including whitening, aligners, restorative procedures, and more. With tools like intraoral scanners and cameras, 3D printers, and compact setups, it is certainly possible to support the patient in a holistic and in high demand way.
The bottom line for the dental industry is this: Dental practices that do not reach patients via mobile devices or via mobile services may soon find it difficult to retain existing patients and reach new patients.
Do you want to know a secret? As an added bonus, there is one phenomenon that seems to occur when a dental office implements care outside of traditional methods: We regularly see an increase in team morale, spirit and communication. Venturing out of the small clinic operation can be fun, refreshing, and a welcome adventure for team members! Who knows… this may be what you are looking for to experience dentistry like never before!
- 5 tips for integrating teledentistry services into your dental practice now. Tooth Écon. June 1, 2020. https://www.dentaleconomics.com/science-tech/article/14177520/5-tips-on-how-to-incorporate-teledentistry-services-into-your-dental-practice-right-now
- Impact Report: Overview. Mobile health card. https://www.mobilehealthmap.org/impact-report
- Yu SWY, Hill C, Ricks ML, Bennet J, Oriol NE. The reach and impact of mobile health clinics in the United States: a review of the literature. Int J Equity Health. 2017; 16 (1): 178. doi: 10.1186 / s12939-017-0671-2
- Bestsennyy O, Gilbert G, Harris A, Rost J. Telehealth: A Quarter-Billion-Dollar Post-COVID-19 Reality? McKinsey & Company. July 9, 2021. https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare-systems-and-services/our-insights/telehealth-a-quarter-trillion-dollar-post-covid-19-reality
- Fitzpatrick L. The future of healthcare is mobile. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/lisafitzpatrick/2021/01/15/the-future-of-healthcare-is-mobile
Editor’s Note: This article appeared in the print edition of December 2021 Dental economics.