Pandemic Period Reveals Teledentistry's Role in Expanding Reach of Dentists, Setting Course for Future Post COVID-19

EFFINGHAM, Ill., April 30, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Dentists are breaking into the new frontier of teledentistry amid the COVID-19 pandemic. With this technology, Heartland Dental supported doctors are leveraging teledentistry to proactively reach and help patients in need of care. From triaging emergency patients to preventing interruptions in orthodontic treatment, teledentistry is proving beneficial both now and into the future.

Constantly working on new and innovative ways to support improvements to the doctor-patient experience, Heartland Dental began researching and testing teledentistry platforms nearly two years ago. The support team sought and found a platform that provides convenient, accurate, and most importantly, ADA and HIPPA-compliant teledentistry capabilities. A team of clinicians then completed pilot programs to ensure the utmost integration, cutting-edge functionality and a highly patient-centric experience.

Jacob Berger, DMD, of Smiles at Lakewood Ranch in Lakewood Ranch, FL, found that patients want to be able to connect efficiently with their clinical provider. "Right now, patients are craving a personal touch," Dr. Berger says.

Usage of teledentistry has increased significantly during the current healthcare crisis, limiting hospital visits and enabling patients to safely discuss dental problems or concerns from their homes, while receiving advice and next steps for care from their dentist. In addition, with the outbreak of COVID-19, many major insurance carriers are recognizing the benefits of teledentistry and supporting payment of claims for such services, which was not standard in the past. This is a sign that teledentistry is not just limited for use during COVID-19, but for the future of dentistry in general.

Doctors are looking for ways to connect with patients who are in need of dental care. "Adding teledentistry to my already varied offerings was just what my patients needed to feel reassured. That was especially important during this crisis. I was so pleased to see signs of relief on their faces by the time we completed our first virtual consultation. Patients need doctors who are forward thinking and willing to reach out in a new way as our situation evolves," Dr. Berger notes.

A Consumer Telehealth Index Survey found 66% of adults had not been to the dentist in the past 12 months. Teledentistry is one tool to help make the connection. Anna Singh, DMD, Vice President of Clinical Training and Development, explains that teledentistry adds a viable alternative for patients accessing dental care - especially for those who may have a fear of visiting the dentist, limited time to seek dental care, or are otherwise unable to visit the doctor.

"This secure platform, integrated with proven processes of traditional dental care, provides our supported doctors the ability to quickly and easily interact with their patients to assess oral health, discuss concerns, and plan a course of action regarding treatment," says Dr. Singh. "Fully integrating this technology will significantly improve our existing model of care for the future."

Nestor Villarreal, DDS, of Bellaire Bay Dental Care in Naples, Florida, believes teledentistry represents the next phase of oral healthcare and has a tremendous potential to improve dental treatments in the future.

"With my current concerns of keeping patients and their families safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, teledentistry enables me to provide safe consultations and dental care to those who otherwise might have to wait for treatment. Reassuring patients with live video allows me to evaluate emergencies and provide care instructions," Dr. Villarreal explains. "As I look to the future, I believe teledentistry will help dental professionals build healthier communities by expanding the reach and capabilities of traditional dental practices."

Heartland Dental was founded in 1997 by Rick Workman, DMD. Today, the Effingham, IL-based company is the nation's largest dental support organization providing non-clinical, administrative support services to over 1,000 dental offices across 37 states. Heartland Dental supports dentists as they deliver high quality care across a spectrum of dental services, and is majority owned by KKR, a leading global investment firm.

Supported doctors use teledentistry in accordance with their respective state laws.

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Christy Hakman, Corporate Communications
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SOURCE Heartland Dental