Megan Beuckens, DDS, is a dentistry practitioner at Ethos Dental and has been practicing for more than 12 years. She is passionate about staying on the cutting edge of dental technology with a focus on esthetic dentistry. Her keen eye for detail allows Ethos Dental to provide world-class cosmetic dental services in a comfortable setting. But when COVID-19 limited dental care in her state to emergencies only, Beuckens knew she had to find new ways to extend her skills beyond the reach of the operatory.
“It’s a shock because it’s what you do every day. How do you keep your patients healthy when you can’t really see them? We wanted to be safe and follow all of the guidelines from the American Dental Association, the Board of Dentistry and the Centers for Disease Control,” says Beuckens. “Teledentistry for me was one of the only options. Dental pain is usually acute. It’s a problem that needs to be addressed soon so it doesn’t turn into an infection and need further medical care.”
Comfort through connection
Upon receiving the news, Ethos Office Manager April Kalman canceled her vacation to Hawaii and began operating in essential services mode. She says the team had already been using RevenueWell when they began researching remote care delivery and discovered the company’s latest teledentistry product, Virtual Visits.
As a dental professional serving the practice since 1998, Kalman describes the comfort longtime patients are seeking in the ability to see and talk to their dentist amidst the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. “It gives them a sense of security that we’re there for them even though we can’t physically be there. It also shows them that their health and well- being are still a top priority for us. People want a sense of normalcy.”
Going the digital distance
Kalman says patients’ security has always been a priority to the Minnesota-based group practice and the Virtual Visit model is second to none in terms of triaging and advising. “It’s HIPAA-compliant, safe and provides that elevated standard of care.”
Kalman says the encounters, delivered remotely, suit a variety of patient needs. “I was a little bit skeptical at first and wasn’t sure if patients would be receptive, but they greatly appreciate it. It has also been really helpful for Invisalign patients with orthodontic questions. We’ve had older patients use it easily as well.”
As a dentist, Beuckens was impressed by the software’s capability for handling face-to-face sessions from start to finish. “It’s amazing what I’ve been able to get done in a virtual visit that I’ve never been able to do before.” She says the visit process seamlessly integrates into her workflow. She collects a patient’s consent, medical and dental history, pain level and chief concern. Afterward, she provides the patient with a consultation and offers next steps for pain treatment or pain management, completing her exam notes in Eaglesoft. So far, she’s pleased with the results. “Offering the service makes for a more well-rounded practice. I’ve even gained a new patient during this time, which I don’t think would have been possible before. They found us and wanted to have a virtual visit.”
The virtual wave of the future
Looking ahead, Beuckens says dentists may need to change the way they see patients. “I think we have to be very adaptive. For example, how we structure appointment scheduling. Our patients may have to call ahead and let us know when they’re here until it’s safe to resume practice. So, I do see adding the technology into our normal routine.” She adds that teledentistry may also be carving out its own niche by design. “Evaluating a tooth and having the patient show me aspects of it – it’s going to become extremely valuable. I see seniors and others who may not be very mobile, and I can see us continue using Virtual Visits in these types of cases.” She says she’ll use the remote platform periodically for patient check-ins rather than a phone call and possibly even meeting with specialists since it’s a fast and confidential way to communicate.
Tips for implementing teledentistry
Below, Beuckens shares helpful hints for maximizing teledentistry to provide the best patient care possible.
- Use double vision. “I’ve found it helpful to have a dual screen setup – Virtual Visits on one screen; patient notes, history and visit notes on the other screen. That way, I can take notes and talk to the patient at the same time.”
- Train for success. “Take advantage of trainings to start implementing your technology into the practice right away. It can be hard to make changes, so everyone in your office has to be on board. Conduct team meetings to explain how it is going to help patients and staff so everyone is comfortable with using it.”
- Invest in tech generally. “The advances in technology in the past decade have changed practices to be more patient-focused. New technology delivers a more pleasant and convenient experience for patients. In our practice, we use same-day crowns; the iTero scanner for very comfortable digital impressions; intraoral cameras to demonstrate faster what might be happening in a patient’s mouth and on their tooth; and preventative care such as lasers and wand technology for anesthesia.”
RevenueWell Virtual Visits can help you maintain patient connections in a reliable, safe and secure way and provide immediate attention and care. Interested in implementing teledentistry at your practice? Walk through a RevenueWell Virtual Visit and picture the benefits for your dental office.
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This blog post is a condensed version of a more detailed case study. Download the full PDF.