How One Dental Practice Found Success with Teledentistry Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

Michael Cruz and Dee Dee Meevasin, DMD, were running critical business operations at full sprint when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Las Vegas, threatening to stop them in their tracks.

Cruz is the office manager for Dee for Dentist, a technology-forward dental practice in Las Vegas. Meevasin, a 13-year practitioner and early adopter of many leading dental advancements, immediately found ways to remain operational when suddenly faced with taking emergency appointments only. “My first thought was how can I protect our team and their families, and how can we maintain the business of the practice?”

Virtual emergency triage

Thanks to their enthusiasm for cutting-edge tech, when Nevada’s governor announced the Shelter-In-Place order for the state, the pair immediately pivoted from routine operations to keeping emergency patients in Meevasin’s chair and out of emergency rooms by channeling the power of teledentistry. “We’ve had OperaDDS for about six years and used it mostly on weekends for virtual consults, triaging — that kind of thing,” says Meevasin, a Patterson customer.

Now, when patients call Dee for Dentist’s emergency line, she sends them a form to instantly collect vital information ahead of time. “I’m using it as a screening tool to see if it’s really an emergency. Without staff right now and very limited personal protective equipment, I need to make sure it’s something I need to go in for and a lot of times, they’re little things the patient has a question about or they need assurance on something and can wait until we reopen,” she adds. “The great thing is, OperaDDS is pretty detailed. It will ask a lot of questions and has the patient upload several photos. It’s basically like my assistant going in and asking all of these important questions before I come into the room and filling me in on the situation, so I can assess it.”

Operation critical

OperaDDS and other teledentistry platforms are a necessity today according to Cruz. He says they’re also easy to adopt since they’re intuitive and designed with all types of users in mind. “It’s a no-brainer to get something like this for your practice. It’s nice that it’s organized and syncs with the practice management system in a HIPAA-compliant way that’s all part of the patient record. As far as getting patients on board, they aren’t even surprised it exists. They think it’s just like everything else.”

Cruz believes teledentistry platforms are superior to other models such as Zoom, FaceTime and Facebook Messenger. “Zoom is having security issues and it’s a lot more complicated to use. You have to use your personal cell phone with FaceTime and not everyone has an iPhone. OperaDDS is hands-down better for a practice.”

“It’s a no-brainer to get something like this for your practice.”

Michael Cruz, Office Manager

A trend to stay?

Meevasin points out that using a teledentistry-specific model is smart since practices won’t have to change the platform when the currently relaxed HIPAA rules are reinstated. And it’s an investment, she relates, that will benefit offices when they reopen and beyond. “Moving forward, you’re still going to have people who are afraid to leave their homes. If they have a problem, they’re going to want to make sure 100 percent they really do have a problem before they leave. This is a great screening tool to help patients and offices with those needs.”

Cruz thinks the public will also become used to teledentistry because of the pandemic and clinically, dental offices will likely need to embrace the change — moving to operating more often within a virtual space. “[Teledentistry] helps you stand out and it’s going to cut back on labor costs and feel up to date from a marketing standpoint. For a small expense, you can make your investment back in terms of saving labor hours.”

Digital platforms bring patients within reach

Platforms that include teledentistry offer a wealth of other valuable features and benefits. “With OperaDDS, teledentistry is really a small subset of one aspect of the software. Implementing it helps your practice become almost paperless, fully compliant and protected from a liability standpoint. It can make you more efficient and give you a better overall experience with patients,” says Cruz. Here are some key features of the OperaDDS digital platform:

  • Paperless forms: Streamline intake, management and transmittal of sensitive information while removing the burden of paper forms.
  • Chat: Swiftly and securely message any member of your team from any device, creating better case acceptance and patient experiences.
  • Secure email: Avoid costly HIPAA violations by sending sensitive information through OperaDDS.
  • Recall: Experience the satisfaction of a full schedule through an automated scheduling process. Reschedule appointments immediately with two-way texting and reduce scheduling gaps and no-shows.
  • Automated reviews: Know and take control of your online reputation. Grow your practice with an intelligent system that pushes positive reviews to social media platforms while flagging issues to be addressed behind the scenes.

Explore the full OperaDDS software suite and request a demo at pattersondental.com.

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This blog post is a condensed version of a more detailed case study. Download the full PDF.