If you are like most sleep dentists, you are experiencing a major shift in the way you see patients. COVID-19 has caused dental offices throughout the country to implement new health and safety protocols as well as minimize as much interaction with patients as possible. If you’re looking at alternative ways to continue providing high-quality care to those patients who are struggling to get adequate rest at night, it’s time to consider how telemedicine can benefit your sleep practice.
What is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine has been around for some time now; however, it wasn’t until recently with the emergence of COVID-19 that it has been thrust to the forefront. Doctor’s offices, dental practices, and other healthcare clinics and hospitals are now offering it to patients as a way to minimize contact without sacrificing optimal care.
Referred to as “patient-centered care,” telemedicine allows sleep dentists like yourself to embrace the advancements of technology and continue to provide patients with the personalized treatment they deserve. This type of service can be offered if the patient has access to an electronic device (i.e. cell phone, tablet, computer) that has a camera.
How Is It Beneficial to Patients?
Apart from its ability to offer a more convenient method of care, telemedicine can be beneficial for many reasons, some of which include:
- It allows patients to remain safely at home and avoid unnecessary trips to the office for treatment, especially as it pertains to COVID-19 and the continued threat it possesses
- It saves the patient valuable time, especially those who have children and need childcare assistance
- It provides sleep dentists an opportunity to provide a more personalized, focused sleep apnea consultation for patients in need
- It makes it possible for patients to avoid additional co-pays that come with an actual visit to the office
- It can expand your potential client base
The Implementation Process
Now that you better understand what telemedicine is and how it can be beneficial for both you and your patients, you may be wondering how you can incorporate it into your practice. You might consider the following steps:
- Solidify your strategic objectives by determining the needs of your patients, referring providers, and those insurance companies (payors) who will be accepting/denying telemedicine services.
- Have a clear understanding of what your state’s regulations are as it pertains to telemedicine. This can be easily accomplished by inquiring from your state department of health or board of physicians.
- Speak to dental insurance companies (payors) to discuss whether telemedicine will be a covered benefit.
- Determine who your referral sources will be and be mindful of those coming from cities, towns, and even states, as it will require that these patients come in for treatment now and then.
- Identify an IT partner who can provide top-notch audio and video communication and recording capabilities. You don’t want your patients struggling to use the system, so it needs to be user-friendly.
- Be prepared to see your first patient but before you do, try the system out several times to make sure there are no glitches.
- Evaluate after the first appointment and work to improve any areas that failed to perform at an optimal level.
Right now, finding ways to keep everyone safe and better protected is important. You will find that by adding telemedicine to your sleep apnea treatment process, it will be a welcome addition for both you and your patients.
About 21st Century Sleep Seminars
Dr. Kent Smith is a top professional in sleep medicine who has experience in treating, writing, and speaking about sleep disorders. His wealth of knowledge has helped other dentists integrate sleep apnea treatment into their own practices. At 21st Century Sleep Seminars, we can provide you with the information, tips, advice, and network of professionals you need to effectively treat these sleep disorders your patients are facing. To learn more, visit our website or call (972) 255-3712.