A Report from the ADEA (American Dental Education Association) Encourages an Expanded Knowledge-Base For Teledentistry

11.08.2021
| 8 min read

Innovation gets attention. An amount of positive kudos was given to teledentistry by the American Dental Education Association (ADEA).

Teledentistry and virtual dental care are on the rise. The ADEA’s vote of confidence helps highlight the ongoing innovation around the service - especially by those (like us) with a strong bias for teledentistry innovation.

The ADEA is opening the door to the growing knowledge-base about teledentistry. Their emphasis is specifically targeted to dental students.

ADEAReport2

Common knowledge about teledentistry

The telehealth environment is built on the combined synergy of digital communication technology and the delivery of remote care. Its impact on public health has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Teledentistry (like telehealth) has gained acceptance for delivering oral health care and speciality dental services. The ADEA report identifies what they call “four subunits” of teledentistry.

  • “Teleconsultation”
  • “Telediagnosis”
  • “Teletriage”
  • “Telemonitoring” [1]

TeledentsitryApplications2

Each of these four teledentistry applications span common oral care solutions.

  • Regular dental check-ups for maintaining oral hygiene
  • Image exchange that supports dental diagnosis, at-home care, and specialist referrals
  • Follow-up, emergency care, triage, and monitoring that’s convenient and time-saving

Knowledge about teledentistry usage is increasing. Familiarity with the service is leading to the need for an expanded knowledge-base.

Teledentistry growth will rely on expanding the knowledge-base (including new dentists)

The rise in teledentistry usage and innovation creates the need for targeted education about service protocols. As a current or future dentist, staying on-trend will require being up to speed.

According to the ADEA report dental students will be part of the innovative growth curve.

By introducing teledentistry during dental school, students can build the skills required to properly deliver dental services through the necessary, evolving technology. As the field of telehealth continues to expand, dental and allied dental students should be educated and trained in teledentistry before embarking on their journeys to practicing oral health providers.” [2]

A practical teledentistry knowledge-base will cover the core information. The ADEA report provides in-depth perspective and supports what we, on the innovative side of teledentistry, recommend all providers understand as well.

Teledentistry state-by-state

State regulations about teledentistry will vary. Most accept the treatment protocol with requirements that must be met - such as those passed by the State of Texas (2021).

Among those regulations (noted within the ADEA report) emphasis is on insurance reimbursement - including Medicaid eligibility.

The reimbursement of dental services rendered through teledentistry vary widely state to state. Some state Medicaid systems have instituted policies that allow for the reimbursement of synchronous (real-time encounter) and asynchronous (information stored for subsequent review) teledentistry services, while others may reimburse for one or the other, or not at all. Other state Medicaid programs and private insurers allow the reimbursement of teledentistry services equivalent to face-to-face contact.[3]

The American Dental Association (ADA) provides specific guidance on CDT (Current Dental Terminology) codes.

  • D9995 for synchronous (real-time) teledentistry visits
  • D9996 for asynchronous (stored data) teledentistry visits

ADA coding has helped validate teledentistry for private carrier and Medicaid insurance reimbursements. It’s essential that your teledentistry knowledge-base be aware and current regarding state regulations, insurance reimbursements, and HIPAA.

Teledentistry patient-by-patient

Under-served and remote patient demographics are prime opportunities for teledentistry providers. The ADEA report reveals the scope of opportunity due to a lack of dentists and related specialists in rural/remote areas.

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) estimate that approximately 62 million Americans reside in 6,678 dental HPSAs in the United States. It is estimated that 10,882 oral health practitioners are needed to address the shortage in oral health and dental specialty access. Teledentisty provides an opportunity to minimize the gap in prevailing oral health care dis- parities by meeting the oral health workforce void in remote and rural areas.[4]

Those of us on the technology side of teledentistry innovation recognize the care gaps. We also confirm the noted opportunity for delivering dentistry to under-served communities.

  • Connecting patients with dentists, dental hygienists, and specialists via a secure, dedicated, digital platform.
  • Capability to obtain and share essential diagnostic images and health data necessary to treatment.
  • Creating a “virtual dental home” environment that provides vital oral health education, preventive dentistry information, and disease prevention to remote and under-served communities.

State guidelines and patient opportunity are core for integrating teledentistry into a dental student’s education. It’s useful for dental schools and those who monitor their curriculum to stay aware of teledentistry innovation - and those with a bias for it.

Check out these resources to increase your knowledge-base about teledentistry and its growing relevance for the dental industry:

Why Teledentistry is a Here-to-Stay as a Sustainable Service

It’s Time for Teledentistry Adoption Inside and Outside the Pandemic Context

Teledentistry: Where We Are Now and Where We are Going

Acquire teledentistry knowledge and tools from a team dedicated to virtual dental care support and services

Teledentix is an innovative, turn-key teledentistry solution created by Virtual Dental Care. The all-in-one platform will enable you to adapt teledentistry to your patient care and extend your services beyond the walls of your dental practice…and improve your patient care in the process.

LEARN MORE about the Teledentix platform.

[1]                [https://adea.org/policy/publications/] https://adea.org/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=44319

[2]                [https://adea.org/policy/publications/] https://adea.org/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=44319

[3]                [https://adea.org/policy/publications/] https://adea.org/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=44319

[4]                [https://adea.org/policy/publications/] https://adea.org/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=44319

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