For those considering cosmetic dentistry, 64% said they would prefer a face-to-face consultation with the dentist, 15% would prefer virtual appointments for progress tracking appointments via a smartphone app and only visit the clinic for emergencies, and 16% would like a mixture of the two options.
The role of a good plan
A combination of virtual and real-life can therefore work to the benefit of the profession and our patients. The pandemic has had an upside – accelerating the acceptance and harnessing of these new technologies by dentists and their teams with a patient base now much more willing to embrace them as part of the ‘new normal’.
Having a clear structure for virtual consultations is key. This enables teams to share key information, lead the discussion in a useful way that builds excitement, and convert the consultation into paid treatment.
Preparation is vital for a successful virtual consultation so we must ensure patients have sent in their photographs before this takes place.
Clarity in communication is also vital to ensuring that patients understand that any virtual consultation is not a replacement for a face-to-face clinical examination or diagnosis more an adjunct.
Situation-specific use of virtual communication, such as orthodontic progress assessments and initial consultations, that are scripted and where boundaries are set, can aid patient care as well as tick boxes with for those more apprehensive about visiting the dentist.
Whilst this pandemic has had huge ramifications for the dental health of many patients who missed out on regular screenings and dental care (we await the figures regarding missed opportunities for teams to detect oral cancer with trepidation), it has also effected rapid change in how we ‘do dentistry’.
The opportunity for dentists to reach out to patients virtually can only enhance many a patient journey and cannot be under-estimated. But nor too can the importance of face-to-face dental care in detection and diagnosis and the role played by treatment coordinators in connecting the two.
While no one may have foreseen how effective or widespread virtual dentistry would become in the past few years, there’s no denying that it has a place in many dentist practices.
With the potential to fulfil essential client needs through digital communications, virtual consultations, and treatment communication, virtual dentistry can be invaluable.
That being said, most patients strongly prefer in-person appointments and both cleanings and procedures require in-person visits, so virtual appointments will never overtake appointments in person. Virtual dentistry can help facilitate patient care even while in-office visits go back to normal, giving your practice the best of both worlds.
- Virtual dentistry has a place in many dentist practices.
- It can have a great value when it comes to fulfil essential client needs through digital treatment communication and virtual consultations.
- Virtual dentistry is a support that facilitates traditional dentistry but it will never replace the in-person appointments.
Straumann® DenToGo™ is one of the world’s first mobile orthodontics monitoring solutions, which allows for more efficient patient scheduling, increased patient compliance, and personalized messaging.
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