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Patti DiGangi, RDH, BS, believes dentistry is no longer just about fixing teeth. Dentistry is oral medÂicine. Her work helps dental professionals embrace the opportunities and understand the metrics that accurate insurance coding provides. The ADA recognized her expertise by inviting her to write a chapter in its CDT 2017 Companion book and again for its CDT 2018 Companion. She is the author of the DentalCodeology series of easy-to-read, bite-size books. Her latest book, "Teledentistry: Pathway to Pathology" was co-written with Cindy Purdy, RDH, BS. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consider pop-up dentistry stations to connect with customers of all ages
New York City’s iconic Carnegi Deli closed its doors in 2016, but it returned in 2018 as an eight-day pop-up treat. The return was made possible by the deli’s partnership with Amazon, celebrating the launch of the second season of the hit series "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel."
The event was an instance success, racking up a reported 6,000-person wating list within a few days of opening, according to Vogue magazine / CBS News.
What if your practice created a pop-up dental event to bring in new patients? This is one of the very innovative and effective ways teledentistry can positively impact the practice bottom line.
Moving beyond 'dental offices are the system'
Our long-held model of "dental offices are the system" has focused on the stand-alone dentistry practice. To better meet the oral health needs of many, we need to see beyond stand-alone dentistry practice model where patients have to find us. We need to find them!
The good news is the age of teledentistry has arrived. Teledentistry is a game changer! It is alreadyushering in the next phase of oral health care delivery, bridging the gap between supply and demand, and improving the equity of oral healthcare and cost effectiveness.
What is teledentistry?
Confusion arises by what qualifies as teledentistry.
Teledentistry is a very useful tool. It utilizes communications technology to enable locally-based oral health providers to consult with other oral health providers, dentists, or medical providers based elsewhere.
Going the extra millennial mile to boost the bottom line
Today, most dentists are concerned with keeping their practices profitable in a rapidly-changing environment - and rightly so! Dental practices are not as profitable in the same way they were in the past. The idea of every patient coming in every six months has changed.
One of the reasons for this is that most common age in America is 22-26. At 92 million people, millennials are now the largest segment of the population. The millennial generation is not only bigger, it is more diverse than the Baby Boomers generation.
In an effort to provide millennials with the choice they demand, your practice could use teledentistry to take a page out of the Carnegie Deli playbook and hold pop-up sponsored screening events at a variety of places frequented by millennials, such as where they work or play.
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Creating your Carnegie-like pop-up
Take for example Staci Stout RDH, BS, and Dr. Tanner Clark working together at Smart Smiles in Salt Lake City. Here, dental hygienists travel to off-site scheduled screening events to take intraoral images, radiographs and begin formulating a treatment plan.
The information is then synched from the off-site screening location to a HIPPA-compliant cloud-based software program called TeleDent. Working in his office, Dr. Clark immediately reviews the information and provides a live evaluation to the hygienist via telecommunication.
If Dr. Clark isn’t available for a live evaluation, the information is stored and then viewed by Dr. Clark at a later time.
If your office wants to do a quick pop-up dental clinic, it might not involve much more than a mirror, explorer, probe and HIPAA compliant cloud-based intraoral camera system.
The pop-up clinic could then be set-up at a place of business, civic center, church or senior center to provide screening services.
For example, at local senior center, a screening event is set up. The hygienist screens 50 residents. By connecting live, eight to 10 residents schedule at your practice for necessary care.
For millennials, you can set-up a pop-up clinic at their place of work. The conversion rate for these types of events could be as high as 20-40 percent. Why? Many of these younger prospects have no dental home. If you provide them with a pleasant, high-tech experience, you will get new patients.
Career-extending live connections
The good news might be that your schedule is busy so there may not be time for live connections with your off-site hygienist. Again, innovative ideas can help. Here’s an example:
A general dentist in private practice for ten years recently had to stop practicing dentistry due to back problems. He is looking for other options where he could use his knowledge of dentistry without working on patients. He has read a few articles about teledentistry and wonders if it could be a right fit for his future.
Your practice could hire this dentist (or thousands like him) for your live pop-up screening events. Then your practice has a trifecta win-win-win. The practice wins with new patients, the dentist wins with continued work using his hard-eared knowledge and skills and your potential new patients win with easy access to care where they work and live.
Thanks to the Carnegie Deli pop-up concept, a temporary dental screening location can have a lasting impact on the bottom line of your private practice as long as you connect, communicate and collaborate via teledentistry.