Teledentistry is quickly becoming a popular option for dentists seeking to stay open and see emergency dental patients during the coronavirus outbreak.
The TeleDentists service was founded by Maria Kunstadter, DDS. It offers dentists a HIPAA-compliant teledentistry method to (1) stay connected with their current patients of record and (2) connect with new patients seeking a dentist.
In this video, Dr. Kunstadter talks with Patient Prism CEO Amol Nirgudkar and nationally-known dental insurance expert Teresa Duncan about how it provides revenue for dentists during the coronavirus pandemic.
How The TeleDentists Service Works
Dentists can visit TheTeleDentists.com website for an overview.
In a nutshell, dentists who sign up for The TeleDentists receive a custom website link (URL) that they can put on their website and share via email or text message with their current patients. That allows current patients of record to schedule an online consultation with their own dentist through The TeleDentists service.
Dentists can also connect with new patients via The TeleDentists service. Dentists can sign up to provide online consultations. When a new patient completes the online medical history form, The TeleDentists will connect the patient with a dentist who’s available to perform the 10-minute video consult. The dentist then determines if the patient needs to see a dentist for urgent care, can postpone treatment, or can go to the local pharmacy to purchase a temporary solution.
Dentists can perform virtual dental consultations for patients both in their geographic area and outside of it. Dentists can also sign up with The TeleDentists to have emergency dental patients forwarded to their practice. Another dentist may be the one that performs the remote dental consultation and recommends the patient get seen quickly, and then The TeleDentists receptionist will provide the patient with the contact information for a dentist in the patient’s zip code / geographic area.
The virtual consultations can take place from the dentist’s home or office.
What Can Dentists Do Via Teledentistry?
The number one reason patients like teledentistry is because it lets them know if the dental problem they are experiencing is serious.
Many teledentistry calls are about toothaches, pain, swelling, cracked teeth, chipped teeth, loose teeth, abscesses, cold sores, filling fell out, temporary crown came off, broken denture, etc.
Parents often use teledentistry to ask questions about their children’s teeth and whether something is normal.
Current patients of record who use clear aligners like teledentistry because the general dentist or orthodontist can determine whether the patient is ready for his or her next set of aligners and simply mail them out.
Teledentistry eliminates the need for unnecessary exposure during this coronavirus outbreak, while still providing dental expertise. And it gives dentists a way to stay in touch with their current patients during this challenging time.
It also gives the dentist the opportunity to triage dental emergency calls and determine how many members of the dental team will be needed to treat the patient in-office.
How Do Dentists Bill for Teledentistry?
The TeleDentists is HIPAA-compliant and the consultation can be submitted to insurances as a limited exam code. Reimbursement varies with insurance companies.
“Many of the carriers have relaxed their in-person requirement for the limited evaluation,” said Teresa Duncan, author of Moving Your Patients to Yes: Easy Insurance Conversations.
“This is an unprecedented situation and carriers are being more flexible. There is a cost involved with being a teledentist and that’s why we have 9995 and 9996 codes as descriptors. So you charge for the limited exam, and then add the descriptor code,“ she explained.
The D9995 code is for synchronous teledentistry consultations, which means that the consult happened in real-time, and the D9996 code for asynchronous consultations, which is when the dentist is assessing the patient based on information that has been collected and forwarded to the dentist for review.
The TeleDentists collect a payment from the patient at the time of service for the consultation, which is typically $69 but has been decreased to $49 to increase access to care during the coronavirus shutdown.
Contact The TeleDentists for more information on revenue collection.
Teledentistry after Coronavirus
“At the end of the day, you want to provide dental care,” said Dr. Kunstadter. “By staying in close contact with your patients and helping them when they really need it, you’ll be on a good footing when you reopen. You’ll be able to schedule those people and say let’s get that filling fixed now.”
Plus, keeping patients in the dental office and not in the emergency room is vital right now. Typically, people spent $1.7 billion in emergency room treatment for dental problems.
“Who would want to go into the emergency room with a toothache and come out with a virus?” asked Dr. Kundstadter. “It’s critical that we help them get the care they need. They should be calling a dentist.”
Telemedicine has been around for more than two decades. Now teledentistry is catching up.
“A new study shows 78% of people would like to have teledentistry as an option, and that was before coronavirus hit,” said Dr. Kundstadter.
There will be even more demand now.
To learn more about The TeleDentists, visit thedeledentists.com/dentists.
To reach Teresa Duncan, listen to her podcasts, or order her must-have book "Moving Your Patients to Yes: Easy Insurance Conversations," please visit OdysseyMgmt.com.