Virtual Tools to Keep Up Patient Relations

The last few months have marked a period of adjustment worldwide. Some industries are adapting to the circumstances by finding ways to work remotely and limiting social contact. Many professions, like dentistry, share a very different story, wherein most work cannot be done as it requires physical contact. While attending to dental emergencies are essential, how are dentists extending oral care guidance to their other patients? 

Dentists are employing virtual tools to facilitate conversations with patients. Virtual connections allow dental providers to continually help patients. This is the main defining factor of teledentistry, which we have spoken about in the last few blog posts (found here and here). Teledentistry includes treatment planning, video conferencing, and even telephone calls that entail a dental provider performing any kind of virtual treatment, for example, giving follow-up instructions. Various studies have been done on the validity of teledentistry. These studies are highly prevalent at a time like this, as they offer the industry a perspective on how using virtual treatment tools can objectively help dental practices and patients alike, while also acknowledging precautions. 

Teeth images coming out of computer screen

We have spoken about the various ways virtual communications aid both your practice and your patients a few times. Using resources to keep patients informed and motivated ensures that they are bettering their oral health, even if they have to delay hygiene visits. 

Try sending emails to your patients on file to inform them of oral hygienic practices they can keep doing at home. You can use your dental software’s messaging system for quick and effective communication with your patients. Reaching out to your patients in any capacity contributes to a positive doctor-patient relationship, and will benefit both them and your practice in the long run. 

Something as simple as a reassuring or informative email can leave a positive impact on your regular patients. You can also utilize your social media outlets and your practice’s website to let patients know how your team is doing or provide information on health and safety. For instance, adjusting your homepage content to address whether your office is currently accepting emergencies, or wishing good health to webpage visitors creates a great first impression. Doing this also addresses the situation, thus helping minimize patient anxieties. 

Difficult situations such as outbreaks are bound to happen. All industries face their own set of challenges, and it is important to keep looking forward and remain adaptable in a changing world. While this is a challenging time, doing the best with our available resources make our communities stronger. 


Works Cited: 

Alabdullah, Jafar & Daniel, Susan. (2018). A Systematic Review on the Validity of Teledentistry. Telemedicine and e-Health. 24. 10.1089/tmj.2017.0132.   
Arora PC, Kaur J, Kaur J, Arora A. Teledentistry: An innovative tool for the underserved population. Digit Med [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Apr 28];5:6-12. Available from: http://www.digitmedicine.com/text.asp?2019/5/1/6/249836 

Why Invest Your Extra Time in Treatment Planning (Teledentistry Part 2)

Case management accounts for a substantial portion of a dental professional’s career. Prescribing treatment to your patients takes time and care, as well as planning ahead for complex procedures. As discussed in previous blog posts, you can use your extra time to keep up with a number of essential business functions such as training your employees and ensuring your records are up-to-date and secured. You may consider engaging with continued learning via online courses. In this blog post, we are encouraging you to prioritize case management and patient relations to plan for when your office reopens. 

As a dental professional, your time is a valuable investment. Despite current restrictions for public health and safety, you can still use your time by planning treatments with patients that have been postponed for any reason. Even though the treatment itself must wait for a few months, various aspects of the planning process can be done now. This may include preparing financial payment plans, informing patients of pretreatment requirements, or ordering materials and instruments that you need for the procedure. As long as all communications are done safely and virtually, you can set your practice up for success when offices reopen. 

Dentist on laptop screen

By dedicating a portion of your time to case management, you are helping your practice thrive for months to come. Arranging profitable treatment that is essential to your practice will help you bring your business back to where you want it to be. Planning treatment with your patients not only financially benefits your practice in the long run but also strengthens your relations with your patients. Letting them know that you are still here to discuss their oral health goes a long way, whether it be by an automated email, or posting a notice on your website. This, in turn, can foster positive reviews for your practice, which are assets. 

Routine appointments will come naturally, as patients have gone months overdue for their dental cleaning. If you find your schedule has gaps, using your dental software’s tools such as a treatment manager assists you in finding patients who have yet to book outstanding treatment. 

Reviewing cases with your patients now prevents further delaying treatments once your practice reopens, and also helps you fill your schedule quickly with valuable appointments, putting your office back on track. 

Why Dentists Are Turning to Teledentistry During COVID-19 (Teledentistry Part 1)

Dentists worldwide are utilizing various technologies which help facilitate teledentistry during this health crisis.

Resources cite that although providers can only do limited exams and treatment planning or virtual consultations, teledentistry maintains patient relations, which is a vital aspect of owning a practice. Teledentistry also provides a way for dentists to work during the worldwide health emergency, but can also be used to enhance the daily operations of your practice under normal circumstances. 

Visuals Made Virtual

A huge part of treatment planning with patients is visually presenting the problem, and also showing the solution to keep patients fully informed. For instance, you might show your patient the x-ray of their decay, or walk through the details of a specific procedure using intraoral pictures of their problem area. 

Brant Herman, CEO of MouthWatch LLC, writes on Dental Economics points out that virtual treatment planning works well with visuals, as he argues patients understand images better than words alone. Additionally, Herman brings up the point that family members often are the final deciding factor before a patient undergoes a specific treatment. To counter familial disagreement (which is often due to misunderstanding the importance of the treatment), virtual images and videos can be kept on file and saved by the patient for family members’ understanding. 

Using Procedure Codes for Your Time

There is a section of procedure codes in the Ontario fee guide that is often overlooked, but can be effectively utilized at a time like this, especially if you are engaging with patients via teledentistry. Patti DiGrangi, RDH, speaks to this in a video addressing the impact of COVID-19 on the dental industry. DiGrangi brings up a few codes that are typically ignored, such as consultation with a medical professional, case management, and oral hygiene instruction.

Maintaining procedure codes and documentation is a priority if you are engaging with patients via virtual means. You can use your dental software at home to make chart notes of virtual meetings between yourself and your patients so when you return to the office, everything is in order, files are easily accessible, and treatment can quickly begin.

Protect Your Practice as Cyberattacks Increase

Multiple threats are challenging dentists worldwide, including cybersecurity at this time. Cyberattacks have risen by 37% in one month, cited by Phil Muncaster at the Infosecurity Group.

Hospitals have been experiencing international ransomware attacks from hackers taking advantage of the current situation. When hospitals are unable to access their data and applications, the treatment process is delayed, thus putting patients directly at risk. Hospitals and other healthcare providers, including dentists, are particularly a high-risk group for ransomware, phishing, and cyberattacks. This week, we are doubling down on data security to make sure that your practice data is protected in this difficult time.

Educate Your Employees

Our last few blog posts mentioned using some extra free time as a chance to educate yourself and your employees on some important aspects of your practice, such as maintaining security. Ensure that anyone who accesses the company emails or social media outlets are very cautious when receiving any messages from unknown senders, particularly with enclosed links. Oftentimes it is best not to open emails and messages from unknown senders if they were not expected or seem irrelevant. If employees do open the email, reinforce that they need to be very sure any links can be trusted prior to clicking them. If you or your employees have suspicions about an email, it is likely in your best interest to delete the email and/or block the sender for your safety.

Have The Right Systems in Place

Take all measures to protect your practice’s data, and ensure your patients’ security. Best practices include having strong passwords and changing them regularly, such as every few months. 

Being aware of the security measures that you should take if your data is threatened. For instance, mitigate the threat that ransomware poses to your practice by doing regular backups on your practice’s local server, or consider a cloud-based server that automatically backs up your practice’s data. This way, if your confidential practice data is infected, you can restore the information from your most recent unaffected backup. 

Having a plan is key for bouncing back from a cyberattack quickly. Just like your practice has emergency evacuation routes for office fires, being prepared for a cyberattack puts you one step ahead of the potential hacker in the event it takes place. Unfortunately, during these unprecedented times, organizations are even more at risk because there are multiple safety concerns. 

The switch to remote work has created an opportunity for cybercrime, but that can be combated with proper security measures and education to make sure any staff who is regularly checking emails or managing communications stay aware and alert.

We hope you are staying safe and healthy at home, and are using the resources available for yourself and your community at this time.

ABELDent’s Exciting New Features: Video Tutorials

Last week’s blog post addressed the downtime caused by the COVID-19 crisis and the ways that dentists can keep themselves preoccupied, even though all routine services are postponed. In the blog post, we encourage dental professionals to utilize online classes now that they have some more time to benefit from additional learning.  

In line with this theme, we are publishing a miniseries for ABELDent users to learn about the new features that our software has, as well as prepare for future upgrades. In these videos, we will show you the features in action, as well as provide some examples for your benefit. 

Many of the new features will make your day-to-day life easier in your practice. Having a strong understanding of these new features will help you in making the most of your dental software, and in turn, providing the best quality of care for your patients.  

The first video of our miniseries covers the clinical sidebar. The clinical sidebar’s purpose is to minimize clicking and scrolling while your patient is in your operatory. You can easily access the important information that you need before starting any treatment by simply glancing at your patient’s chart. 

The Clinical Sidebar 

The clinical sidebar is not restricted to the patient’s chart. You can also see it for each individual patient when checking daily appointments. This allows you and your staff to adequately prepare for any cases that require more attention than others, or just to have a headstart on the day to increase confidence.  

Another option the sidebar provides is quick and simple health updates. You can pre-program your common health conditions and medications into ABELDent and then quickly select what you need when updating your patient’s health history. You can even have your patient do an updated health form, completely paperless, signature included. 

The clinical sidebar offers various possibilities for your practice and streamlines the process of updating and checking patient health information.