Maintaining a healthy smile is an important aspect of a person’s overall health. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same access to dental resources. Living in rural areas or having modest incomes can limit an individual’s ability to obtain adequate dental care. In some cases, it might even be simply too inconvenient for someone to seek out a dentist or to address dental concerns. Dental telehealth is one way healthcare providers are hoping to address some of these shortcomings in dental health.
What is Dental Telehealth?
Dental telehealth is the provision of dental services through electronic means. In essence, a patient is able to exchange information about his or her dental health with a dentist by participating in real-time video, transferring images or utilizing interactive communication technologies. During the transmission of information, a dentist is able to consult with the patient, make a diagnosis and suggest a treatment for the patient. Dental telehealth could also streamline the demand and delivery of various items or products that improve an individual’s dental health.
These virtual visits are a promising solution to the pressing need for accessible dental services across the country. Not only are these services more cost-effective for patients, but also more convenient and time-saving. Through the use of innovative yet user-friendly technology, thousands of people could soon have more access to dental care than ever before.
What are Dental Answering Services?
A dental practice like other medical practices, juggles appointments and phone calls simultaneously to coordinate the seamless functioning of their clinic. If your dental office does not have a dedicated receptionist, you can hire a dental answering service for your dental practice to ensure that you do not miss any appointment requests, even when you are short-staffed. Dental answering services offer experienced professionals who can assist you with calls related to appointments, patient care, and telehealth support for your dental practice.
The Vital Role Of Dental Answering Services
For the modern dental practice whether it be small or large, specialized offerings of a doctor dental answering service are factors that can create efficiency, increase patient satisfaction, and build a stronger bottom line. When we look at the needs of the modern dental practice, it reveals the benefits of a customized dental answering service to fill those needs.
Although dental offices receive regular appointments and emergency calls predominantly, successfully handling them to guarantee patient satisfaction requires an understanding of how dental practices operate. It is not uncommon for busy practices to have one or two dental assistants that also act as receptionists. Dental practices try to schedule appointment days as a mix of routine procedures that fit comfortably around more complex procedures.
Unfortunately, schedule changes and unforeseen issues that may lengthen processes will regularly wreak havoc with the schedule and their ability to properly and promptly field patient calls. The same can be said for larger practices with several dentists, larger staffs, and a dedicated receptionist. Here, the problem is only exacerbated by the larger number of patients being seen each day and the wider variety of procedures.
While patients calling to make standard appointments as well as new patient inquiries can be seen on the surface as routine, when the practice gets busy, letting these calls go through to voicemail is not an option. Just as with an emergency caller where the patient is distraught and in pain, a current patient – and especially a potential new patient caller – will quickly look for other options. This is true for all but the staunchest supporters of a dental practice. That’s why a friendly and informed voice from a dental answering service, accurately representing the practice, is crucial at times when the practice gets busy.
A dental answering service is set up to be able to separate real emergencies from simple inquiries. This is even more vital when an emergency call comes in after business hours. Knowing how to reach the right staff member and at the right number is something that may change on a daily basis. If the patient emergency warrants it (as defined by the practice), the dental answering service should be able to patch or dispatch calls directly to an on-call dentist so that the patient can speak to them immediately.
More than just a phone answering service, a dental answering service has a special understanding of how dental practices operate. A dental answering service can work with the practice to set up protocols that ensure that each patient’s call is handled properly. Patient scheduling, canceling and confirming appointments, providing answers to frequently asked questions, and giving directions to the location require an established understanding of the practice.
The caller should not have to wait for a return call from a dental assistant to have a general question answered. The ability to easily set up protocols for dealing with general and practice-specific questions such as these with the specialized dental answering service makes them a seamless adjunct to the practice itself.
Both routine and urgent care calls require empathy and an understanding of how the patient feels in addition to a solution that is delivered quickly and professionally. The dental answering service agent must understand the basics of dental procedures as well as have access and training in protocols established by the practice to determine the urgency of the appointment.
Professionally trained agents at a phone answering service that specializes in medical and dental practices have the people and patient skills to help calm callers that may be frustrated, or in pain, especially when the dental practice is not open. With so many choices available to patients, dental practices must ensure that every patient encounter by phone is prompt, courteous, sympathetic, and most of all, pointedly informative for the patient’s needs. Since the word of mouth from every patient is the best form of advertising that any practice can get, making sure that the service exceeds their expectations will determine the growth and even the survival of the practice in the marketplace.
How Dental Telehealth and Dental Answering Service Will Increase Access to Care
Although it is in its early phases of development, many dental health experts have already seen several benefits stemming from dental Telehealth. The American Teledentistry Association(ATDA) notes that dental telehealth is much more cost-effective than typical in-office visits. For example, staff used to schedule appointments or manage patient information can be shared between different offices, which consequently lowers staffing costs in those clinics. Less overhead cost for dental offices results in a lower service charge for patients.
The ATDA also points out that dental telehealth saves its patients a significant amount of time. Most obviously, dental telehealth eliminates the time patients waste commuting to the nearest dental office, a benefit that greatly serves patients living in extremely rural areas. However, dental telehealth streamlines the typical office visit, saving the amount of time a patient spends waiting to meet with the doctor.
Finally, with smartphones, apps and virtual technology making up a larger part of our lives every day, dental telehealth conforms to society’s expectations in terms of fast solutions and immediate services. In other words, dental telehealth satisfies consumer demands for convenience and efficiency.
Together, these benefits will only increase access to dental care throughout communities. The combination of reduced costs, saved time, and overwhelming convenience encourages individuals in even the most remote places to seek out health care and dental services. These factors also make dental health both an affordable option for those with limited incomes and time-efficient for those with demanding daily schedules. Additionally, the reduced number of office visits opens up more agreeable time slots for individuals who are in greater need for an in-person visit.
As technology continues to play a growing part in our everyday lives, it’s no surprise that dental telehealth is emerging as a promising solution to promote the efficiency and accessibility of dental health. Learn more about dental answering services offered by Anserve.