In this week’s TIPisode from Eden, she discusses some of the changes that have happened in teledentistry due to this pandemic for both dentists and hygienists. Listen in to hear about a major change from the DEA for prescription writing regulations!
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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. And I have talked to you a couple of times about teledentistry, but today’s going to be a little bit different because, in case you haven’t noticed, life is a little bit different today than it was two or three weeks ago. Dentistry is completely different than it was two or three weeks ago. And so we wanted to talk about how teledentistry has changed and how teledentistry is being used in this wild time that we’re living in.
So, normally when we talk about teledentistry, most of the time we talk about provider-to-provider teledentistry. We talk about mobile hygiene. We talk about using teledentistry for referrals, for screening programs, that type of things. But, now, we are using teledentistry as patient-facing, and that’s the only way we’re using teledentistry right now. And, quite frankly, it’s the only way most people are getting any dental care.
So we all know that there have been huge restrictions placed on dental offices being open, what kind of procedures they can do right now. Everything has been limited to emergencies. And so how are we screening these emergencies? How are we talking to our patients and making sure they’re getting the care they need and that they don’t end up in an emergency room, which is the last place — it’s the last place we ever want dental emergencies to go, but especially right now when our hospitals are overcrowded and we’re trying to practice social distancing. We definitely don’t want dental emergencies walking into the emergency department.
So what patient-facing teledentistry allows us to do is have a video consultation with patients to evaluate their problem. We can see if there is swelling. We can talk about pain. You can see symptoms and how the patient is reacting. And then, if it’s decided that it’s necessary for that patient to come in for an emergency or for a referral, you’re going to send them to the oral surgeon, you’re able to talk through the protocol, the safety protocol, with your patients so that they understand what steps are going to be taken to keep them safe and to keep you and all of the dental providers in the office safe.
Over the past few weeks, we have seen regulations change rapidly in response to this crisis, and so telehealth has been utilized all across medicine and across dentistry as well. The American Dental Association has put out guidelines on how to bill for teledentistry encounters. They are recommending 0140s and to be reported in addition to the D9995 or D9996, which I’ve talked about in other episodes. Those are for asynchronous or synchronous teledentistry. Most everything right now that’s happening is synchronous teledentistry.
One of the big regulations that has changed is that the DEA is now allowing for opioids to be prescribed without a face-to-face consultation. So, in the past, you had to see a patient in your office physically before you could write that prescription for pain medication. Now, they have lifted that restriction, but they do require synchronous teledentistry. It must be a live video consultation. So this might be useful if you have a patient who is in pain and has an infection. Antibiotics and pain medication can be prescribed via teledentistry so that you can postpone treatment a couple of weeks until the risk for infection of COVID has decreased.
Now, I know that most of this episode has been about dentists treating emergency patients, but there’s also a way that hygienists can be using patient-facing teledentistry during this time. You might have patients — perio patients, patients that you see on a regular basis — that you want to check in with and make sure that they’re staying up on their oral hygiene. They might have questions for you. And so you would be able to, with teledentistry, provide some live oral health coaching or oral hygiene instruction or just check in and make sure they’re doing okay with a live video conference.
So, at MouthWatch, we have been very busy trying to get people set up with TeleDent, our teledentistry software. And we have also been researching these regulation changes and trying to stay on top of all of this information. So, if you are looking for specific information about your state or about a specific policy, check our website. Our blog, we are updating frequently. There is a lot of information about current policies and regulation changes, so definitely check in there for more information. Or you can always contact us at [email protected].
So all of you stay home, stay safe, and take care.
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.