How Teledentistry Can Improve Efficiency and Drive More New Patients
COVID-19 has caused dental offices across the country to change how they operate to ensure patient safety while still offering dental care to those who need their services.
With limits on how many patients can be in your facility at once and changing patient expectations, keeping patients in the comfort of their own homes when you can is extremely valuable
The best way to do this? Teledentistry.
What is teledentistry and how does it work?
Teledentistry refers to any dental appointment or consultation completed online. Patients don’t have to leave their home to have an appointment and benefit from your expertise.
Generally, there are 2 teledentistry options:
- Videoconference: You’ll schedule a time for you or your team to meet with a patient over video chat.
- Information gathering and consult: Your patient will provide information on what they’re experiencing (painful tooth, bleeding gums, updates on their orthodontics). You or your team will review within a specified time period and provide a detailed response with next steps.
In either case, teledentistry leverages technology and communication to bring your practice to your patient’s home and allow them to talk to a dentist online.
What’s the best way to make teledentistry part of your practice?
- Evaluations and emergencies: If your patient is experiencing intense pain and needs emergency attention, teledentistry is a great option to determine next steps and provide an at-home remedy until they can come into your office to receive the treatment they need. Through photos, video, and prior dental records, an effective evaluation of their situation can be formulated.
- Post-operation and supervision appointments: Teledentistry provides an incredibly efficient option for supervising patients after any sort of surgical procedure or orthodontic treatment. They can provide images of their teeth and jaw, and you can make sure everything is going smoothly and answer any questions they have just as you would if the appointment was taking place in your own office.
5 Advantages of teledentistry
Integrating teledentistry into your practice provides lots of value to your patients and will give you a competitive advantage compared to dentists only offering in-office appointments. This will make your practice stand out and ultimately lead to more new patient opportunities.
Benefits of integrating teledentistry include…
- Convenience: For your patients, there’s no beating the convenience of a video chat. It’s also convenient for your practice, as your team can work on them efficiently and without having to move from room to room.
- Good for those with dental anxiety: No matter how spa-like and relaxing your office is, for those with dental anxiety every trip to the dentist can be difficult. Since your patients will be at home during their appointment, they’ll be more comfortable.
- Socially distancing: Be it during a pandemic or flu season, teledentistry allows for a more germ-free environment and works to prevent the spread of disease. This is a particular advantage for older patients and those with respiratory illnesses.
- Better economics: Every time a patient steps into your office, you’re spending money beyond just providing your services. With teledentistry, the appointments will not only take less time, but you’ll only be spending money on the teledentistry services and labor.
- No wait or travel times: More often than not, your patients spend just as long traveling to your practice and waiting in your reception area as they do with you being treated. This provides a lot of value for patients, who can receive the same service in much less time.
How to get started: 5 steps for integrating teledentistry into your practice
If you’re considering integrating teledentistry into your practice, follow these steps to get the ball rolling.
1. Choose a teledentistry company (and make sure it is HIPAA compliant)
The first step is finding the right teledentistry software solution for your practice. There are quite a few options. Which service you choose will depend on what you’re looking for.
Any teledentistry company you move forward with should be HIPAA compliant and take privacy seriously.
A couple teledentistry solutions that we recommend:
Both of these options are easy to set up, have strong privacy protections, and are customizable for your practice.
2. Work through your internal process
Deciding, paying for, and setting up your teledentistry solution is one thing. Using it in real life is a whole other can of worms.
While most teledentistry solutions have an easy system for you to follow, how it works within the flow of your practice’s operation will be different for everyone. We recommend sitting down with key members of your team and working through how it will affect all departments. This will ensure all parts of the process will run as smoothly as possible.
3. Train your staff
Once the ins and outs of your process are determined, train your team on what they’ll need to do to make this process work.
Does reception know which follow-up appointments need to be scheduled as teledentistry appointments? Do dentists know how to log into the system and write a prescription? Making sure everyone is on the same page will reduce hiccups down the road and ensure a positive experience for your patients.
4. Start slowly – and adjust
While your instinct may be to push forward with teledentistry full throttle (and we can’t blame you, it’s exciting!), we recommend starting slow and working out kinks before a wide roll-out.
For instance, book a couple of long-time patients who you know are flexible for your first few teledentistry appointments. This will provide a lower stakes appointment and lessen the blow if any minor mistakes or hiccups are made.
As you ramp up teledentistry to more and more patients, don’t be afraid to adjust your process or even switch teledentistry software if you feel that the one you chose isn’t working for you. While you don’t want to give up on something quickly, it’s important that you develop a long-term solution that works for your team.
5. Integrate teledentistry into your online marketing efforts
Once you feel completely confident about your teledentistry solution, it’s time to start showing it off!
As we mentioned above, teledentistry provides a lot of value to your patients. Integrating this new, dynamic aspect of your practice into your online marketing efforts should be a priority.
Some great ways to do this include:
- Teledentistry Calls-To-Action (CTA): Adding “virtual appointment” CTAs on relevant pages is a great way to drive new patients to this service.
- Content: Whether it’s a section on your Emergency Dentistry page, a blog post detailing your process, or a specific web page outlining your service, provide content on your teledentistry offerings.
- Google Ads: There have never been more people searching for teledentistry appointments online. In addition to optimizing content for organic search results, targeting patients looking for teledentistry services in your area with Google Ads will ensure you stay competitive.
- Landing pages: Create a landing page targeted towards these patients and explain how your practice uses its physical office and seamless teledentistry appointments to provide one-of-a-kind service!
Let’s implement a modern online marketing strategy
At Delmain, we help dental offices across America show off what makes them special and stay ahead of the game. Whether it’s teledentistry services, a high-tech gum disease treatment, or your brand new office, we can help make sure patients new and old know all about it.