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Volume 54, Issue 10
Company integrates on demand Uber functionality into its growing platform to help satisfy an increasingly demanding patient population.
When I wrote the popular cover story (September 2020) for Dental Products Report “Digital Transformation: How EHR, Teledentistry, and ‘Next Generation’ Software is Changing the Face of Patient Care”I had the unique opportunity to interview a number of cutting edge software technology companies poised to make a mark in the industry. With this article I would like to add another innovative company to that list, Teledentistry.com is a software and services development company that is leading the charge in what its founder Dr. Vilas Sastry refers to as the “uberization” of on demand teledentistry services.
As a software consultant and educator I have explored how teledentistry is presenting a sea change in the industry which will perpetuate post COVID. I have looked at and reviewed a number of cutting edge features such as video conferencing, asynchronous Pre and Post visit workflows, and care team collaboration in the cloud. In addition to offering these standard features Teledentistry.com is dedicated to continuing to build functionality for its dental service organizations (DSO), Group, and Solo Practice clients to give them the ability to quickly and efficiently connect, on demand, with a virtual provider whether they are within the DSO or Group, with one of the many credentialed Teledentistry.com providers. In other words they have built the most efficient patient “on ramp” possible to a dental practice their teledentistry features and functionality.
Following the Uber model Teledentistry.com’s dentists provide instant connectivity to a virtual dentist to patients of the dental practice. Once the virtual consultation is complete the patient is referred back to the same practice for definitive care. In this world of expected instant communication this puts the patient in control of getting what they need when they need it. In turn, the DSO, group, or practice offers its patients a unique patient engagement experience.
I have seen this Uber concept being implemented in other industries. As our world increases its demands for immediate 24/7 communication I was interested in how Dr Sastry and his development team came up with the idea to incorporate this workflow in their evolving Teledentistry platform. Dr Sastry has a unique background and experience which led him to this point. He has built his own DSO and has also been involved in dental insurance sales for number of years
On the DSO side having worked for a long time in managing patients dental emergencies he saw an opportunity a few years ago with incorporating teledentistry into his own practices to help his patients get emergency care at all hours without waiting. On the dental insurance sales side, he recognized early on that many patients bought insurance policies because they needed immediate care because of their pain. He felt that insurance companies could be more successful by offering immediate virtual care services to their members as an option. So in 2017 the seeds of Teledentistry.com and it’s uberized on demand functionality were sown to address the growing needs of both Dr Sastry’s own practices and the innovative insurance companies he worked with.
When asked about his growing network of Uber dentists and how he has built this to serve the virtual needs of his customers and their patients he mentioned that because Teldentistry.com is contracted with a number of insurance companies they needed to adhere to in depth requirements for credentialing such as following NCQA standards.
The unique concept of an on demand virtual dental visit that Teledentistry.com has helped pioneer is that of the “overflow” functionality. This allows a DSO, group, or practices using the Teledentistry.com software to either have one of their internal providers immediately connect a virtual visit with a patient, or if there are no internal providers available, then the system can roll over to a Teledentistry.com virtual dentist. In any case this leads to greater patient satisfaction by getting taken care of right away.
To get a better sense of how a successful DSO is using Teledentistry.com to meet the needs of their patients I spoke with Dave Drzewicki, CEO of Absolute Dental, which was founded in 2002 and is the largest branded DSO in Nevada. I had a very interesting conversation with Dave because having a technology background himself he well understood how to use innovative technology, such as that which Teledentistry.com has to offer, to keep Absolute Dental ahead of the curve in patient care. One of the reasons that Absolute Dental chose Teledentistry.com was because Dr Sastry was a dentist himself which gave him a unique understanding of what’s needed from a clinical perspective. Dave also told me that they were looking for a teledentistry platform that was built from scratch instead of just an add on application. Absolute has been doing a lot of use case testing with Teledentistry.com and as a DSO has had a lot of input into product development. As a technologist himself, Dave appreciated the fact that Teledendistry.com utilized agile development which allowed them to meet the rapidly changing needs of their organization.
As I got into the meat of this article with Dave I was intrigued with finding out if Absolute Dental took advantage of the uberized on demand virtual visit functionality that Telednetistry.com offered. So I asked him the question: “Does your DSO utilize the Uber dentist ‘overflow’ feature for on demand virtual visits.” He answered “We use the overflow capability all day”. They use this feature for on demand virtual visits with both their affiliated providers as well as with the credentialed Teledentistry.com virtual providers if one of their affiliated docs isn’t available. This gives them the ability to serve their patients quickly and efficiently. He mentioned that the overflow feature alone was worth the investment. And they have found that by using Teledentistry.com’s platform their patients make more rational and informed decisions with their providers when they come into the practice and are out of pain.
As we look to a post-COVID dental industry “the writing is on the wall” and “the train has left the station”. Whichever cliché you want to use the fact is that teledentistry and its associated virtual visit workflows will become an important part of the dental technology landscape. It is becoming standard for teledentistry and telehealth vendors to offer functionality such as virtual visits, asynchronous workflows, and case collaboration. Teledentistry.com has taken this one step further by integrating on demand Uber functionality into its growing platform to help satisfy an increasingly demanding patient population.
Watch an extended interview with Dr Sastry and Mike Uretz here: