Last month you learned what teledentistry is, and this month, Eden teaches us the many ways we can use teledentistry to open up access to care! You may be surprised by how it can help you in your private practice!
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Eden Ivie is a dedicated dental hygienist with a strong interest in public health as well as holistic wellness and nutrition. She maintains dental hygiene licenses in three states and is a Public Health Dental Hygiene Practitioner in the state of Pennsylvania. Eden has been practicing clinical dental hygiene since graduating from San Juan College in 2004 and earned her BSDH from Northern Arizona University in 2018. She currently uses her PHDHP license to practice in a pediatric mobile dental unit that provides preventative care for children in Head Start and other public health settings utilizing teledentistry technologies. Eden works as a Teledentistry Specialist and Director of Customer Success for MouthWatch, where she provides training and implementation guidance for a range of dental care models embracing teledentistry.
This TIPisode has been transcribed for your viewing pleasure:
Eden Ivie: Hey, everyone. It’s Eden with MouthWatch. Today, I’m going to be talking to you about teledentistry and some of the opportunities that it provides for hygienists.
If you haven’t had a chance to listen to last month’s TIPisode about teledentistry, I would recommend that you take some time to listen to that because I go through all of the definitions about what teledentistry is and how it works. Today, I’m going to skip all of that. We’re not going to talk about what teledentistry is. We’re going to go straight to talking about how hygienists can use teledentistry to expand their careers.
Because teledentistry allows providers to connect and share clinical information over remote distances, hygienists who are already working in alternative settings are going to benefit greatly from teledentistry. If you have a collaborative practice agreement or an affiliate practice agreement, teledentistry allows you to fulfill those agreement requirements with sharing clinical information with your collaborating dentist very easily. You don’t have to worry about dropping off charts, mailing anything. Everything is shared securely and easily.
For hygienists who are considering entering a collaborative practice or an affiliate agreement, the use of teledentistry might help in securing an agreement in convincing a doctor that they want to enter that type of agreement with you because with teledentistry, they are include in the loop. They have the patient’s information, they can authorize procedures, and they can contact patients for follow-up and treatment.
Affiliate and collaborative practice agreements are not the only way that a hygienist can go out and work on their own and bring care to patients where they’re at. If you live in a state that allows for general supervision, or allows hygienists to see a patient when the doctor is not on site, you might have the opportunity to take care out into the community, perhaps at a school or in a nursing home or a correctional facility.
If you already are working in a school sealant program or screening program, teledentistry can really add some power to those programs by connecting with a dentist and providing some treatment recommendations. So, instead of sending a child home with a form that says, “We saw some suspicious areas. We think your child should see a dentist,” you can send them home with a form that says, “Your child was evaluated by a dentist. These issues were identified. These are the treatment recommendations.” And you can even add images to that form, and that’s really going to increase follow through and hopefully connect those kids with care and get those kids into the dentist where they’re going to receive the treatment that they need.
In those same types of programs, if you are allowed in your state to use silver diamine fluoride or interim therapeutic restorations or atraumatic therapeutic restorations [sic], if you need authorization before using those types of treatments, you can use teledentistry to receive that authorization. And then you can provide that treatment right then and start arresting that decay at that appointment instead of waiting to consult with a dentist, waiting to receive that authorization, and then having to bring that kid back in, provide the service.
Of course, that same authorization is useful if you are working in a mobile program in a nursing home. If you’re seeing seniors and you are using SDF and ITRs and you need authorization, teledentistry can give you that authorization instantly, and so you can arrest decay sooner and start eradicating that infection.
I know there are a lot of hygienists who are working in public health clinics, and some of these clinics have a hard time having a dentist in the clinic every single day. You might be working with volunteers, or they might be spread thin. They might have to divide their services between multiple clinics. And, if that’s the case, teledentistry can be helpful to provide supervision, if that’s necessary, and also for authorization like we talked about in schools and nursing homes, and also diagnosis and treatment planning. So that patient is still getting those diagnostic services even if there’s not a dentist on site in the clinic that day.
Okay. So I am sure a lot of you are like, “I just work in a regular practice, nine to five, Monday through Friday. Nobody’s mobile. My dentist is on site. How can teledentistry help me?” And that’s a great question because teledentistry can help you in that traditional practice in a couple of different ways.
First is for the referral process. A lot of times if we’re referring our patients to a periodontist or maybe an oral surgeon, endodontist, we give them a card, and we send them out the door. But, with teledentistry, we can collect clinical data, and we can share that directly with the specialist. We might even facilitate a video conference between the patient and the specialist so they’re having a consult before they ever even leave your office. This allows that patient and the specialist to build a relationship, which is going to increase follow through and help ensure that that patient actually goes to the specialist for the treatment that they need.
Teledentistry platforms like TeleDent also have the ability to share information directly with your patient through a patient portal. This can be really useful if the patient needs treatment or if you are working with the patient on home care because you can pull together images, write up some notes, create a document, share that directly with the patient where they can review it at home, they can review it with their partner or with their parent and take the time to really understand what treatment they need or what home care you’re recommending. It’s going to increase case acceptance and follow through on home care recommendations.
Hygienists in traditional offices have the opportunity to bring this technology into their practice and really oversee it, become the teledentistry facilitator in their office.
If you’re interested in learning more about teledentistry and how you can bring it into your practice, you can always contact us at [email protected]. Thanks.
Michelle Strange: Thanks for listening to another TIPisode. We are excited to announce that you can win a MouthWatch intraoral camera. Click the link in our show notes and enter to win. You can also learn more about intraoral cameras and teledentistry solutions that bring patients, providers, and treatment together at mouthwatch.com. Don’t forget to hit the subscribe button in your podcast app. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram, and head over to our website, ataleoftwohygiensists.com, to sign up for our newsletter. We appreciate all ratings and reviews. Thank you for listening to your unofficial dental hygiene podcast.