The dental care industry is evolving, dental service organizations (DSOs) are growing in popularity, and patient needs are changing with increased opportunities for telehealth services. A report by Precedence Research estimates the dental services market size will hit US$698.8 billion by 2030, however:
As DSOs are becoming more popular, the market is becoming more competitive.
Convenience and communication are essential for a positive patient experience. Here we’re going to look at 3 communication tools that most DSOs probably aren’t fully utilizing to improve overall patient satisfaction and DSO success. If maximized to their fullest potential, technology that enhances patient communication can increase case acceptance and patient retention rates, among other benefits.
1. Seeing is Believing: Intraoral Cameras
Intraoral cameras are a well-known imaging technology, but not all DSOs may know how best to leverage them for optimal patient engagement.
Using Cameras for Communication
The utilization of intraoral cameras in dental organizations can help improve the relationship between patients and their dental care providers. How? They allow dental professionals to thoroughly communicate a case to the patient, with easy-to-understand images. Whether a patient is new, existing, or getting a second opinion, using tools like intraoral cameras helps improve trust, transparency, and communication by allowing the patient to see what the dentist sees.
Using intraoral cameras helps the patient feel more included and confident in the care they receive. Building this trust encourages patients to accept suggested dental treatment plans and return for further appointments.
DSOs and dental professionals benefit from using intraoral cameras as well. They can improve documentation for legal protection, and can easily convey post-procedure results that help dental professionals provide solutions and answer patient questions.
2. Supporting Efficiency and Patient Care: Virtual Consults with Teledentistry
Rising Patient Demand for Teledentistry
A study by the Journal of International Society of Preventive and Community Dentistry in 2021 states the increasing growth in patient demand for teledentistry services:
There’s a perception among some in the dental industry that teledentistry solutions are designed to take the place of necessary in-office procedures. This isn’t the case. The right teledentistry workflows, including the use of virtual consults, can mean more efficient patient journeys that get patients into the office for treatment while improving their sense of convenience. There are many ways virtual consultations can transform the patient experience and create efficiencies at the same time. For instance, teledentistry can ensure that the in-office chair time schedule is optimized and that more patients arrive for their in-office appointment following an initial teledentistry consultation.
TeleDent is an efficient and secure teledentistry platform that works in tandem with in-office clinical and administrative workflows. TeleDent brings convenience to clinical workflows, including virtual dental consults, virtual patient monitoring, and asynchronous patient communications in order to enhance success across every location and each patient journey.
Reduce Overhead Costs with Teledentistry
Teledentistry technology also offers DSOs the opportunity to save overhead costs by shifting appointments that can be virtual to live video consultations. A teledentistry appointment does not require room turnover, or the staffing time for the room turnover, or PPE for example, and can be shorter. Patient demand for teledentistry appointments is high, since this option also saves patients costs on gas or childcare and the time driving to and from the dental office. As a starting point, consider how many post-operative appointments your DSO provides per month, and what percentage of those could be effectively delivered via a virtual consult. Here is a quick post-op savings calculator to get you started.
Virtual communication is becoming a normal part of many fields and dental patients are starting to expect teledentistry as an option. Meeting that need also turns out to meet the need of growing DSOs to find more efficiency while also improving the patient experience.
Teledentistry Software Supporting Streamlined Appointments
With new dental technology like TeleDent, dental staff at a call center can schedule initial teledentistry appointments at a shared “virtual location” across a DSO, making use of existing staff availability, reducing lag time to one day instead of 11 days. The initial teledentistry appointment can also more efficiently triage initial concerns and better prepare a dental team for the in-office visit. Patient information and guidance needs are met faster and without taking up chair time, while rapport is built with new patients.
Referral drop rates are also high, and the problem has never been effectively solved. Patients who meet and interact with their specialist referral in a live video consultation are more likely to follow through with a referred dental care provider.
A teledentistry platform like TeleDent allows for the seamless transfer of a case to a specialist without losing communication with the general practitioner.
3. Patient-friendly visual treatment plans: How DSOs optimize a crucial point of communication
A treatment plan is often simply a list of procedures, codes and costs, sometimes with a tooth chart. Let’s use the term “visual treatment plan” to describe plans that include information such as intraoral images, X-rays, cone beams, or 3D scan images.
Downfalls of standard treatment plans:
- They lack imagery to help patients understand easily and intuitively the problem being addressed by the recommended treatment.
- They don’t give the practice the opportunity to show what the “After” could look like with the treatment plan being proposed.
- They don’t facilitate the best-informed conversations at home with the other stakeholders.
If a patient is uncomfortable and does not understand the treatment plan presented, they are far less likely to accept it. Also, if a further in-office visit is required to answer treatment plan questions or to loop in other stakeholders, another barrier to case acceptance is being created.
Build a Better Treatment Plan with TeleDent and Intraoral Imaging: Improve the Patient Experience
The American Dental Education Association named teledentistry and intraoral cameras as two of the top recent innovations in dentistry because of the access and comfort they bring to patients and dental professionals.
To keep patients engaged, informed and following through with their dental care provider, DSOs need to make sure the latest dental technology is offered for treatment plan development.
With MouthWatch, dental professionals can create truly informative, compellingly visual treatment plans that are shared digitally with patients, allowing for the best informed decision-making. MouthWatch offers innovative solutions, like TeleDent and intraoral cameras. These tools enhance teledentistry workflows across multiple practice locations, so patients and dental professionals can enjoy fewer communication barriers and greater dental practice growth.
Learn more about how you can increase productivity, maximize chair time and enhance patient experiences via our latest dental technology here.