The bigger-than-Texas picture of teledentistry’s value to patient care

07.08.2021
| 10 min read

A “Yes” vote for teledentistry is a continued “vote” of confidence in the service. That’s a take-away from the recent bill passed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott lifting the ban on teledentistry in Texas.

Those of us in the teledentisty space see this as another door opening to its validation for secure, convenient, and quality patient care.

Texas and teledentistry

In this case, the “back-and-forth” dialogue has involved the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners and the Pacific Legal Foundation, a libertarian legal organization that filed a lawsuit in February challenging examiners ban on teledentistry in Texas.

Dating back to March 2020, the State Board of Dental Examiners declared via court documents that “dentists in Texas are not authorized to practice teledentistry.” [1]

Their guidance basically involved their rule that required “documentation of the findings of tactile and visual examination of the soft and hard tissues of the oral cavity.” [2]

They deemed that “tactile exams” are not possible using remote technology. This was further interpreted as a “ban” on teledentistry - given it’s remote capabilities.

Problems emerged as insurance providers wouldn’t cover diagnostic discoveries acquired by teledentistry providers in Texas.

The bill (HB 2056) takes effect on September 1 (2021). It prevents the Board from banning teledentistry and further aligns it with other relevant telemedicine services.

As directly relates to teledentistry the following highlights clarify the allowances for Texas dentists now that the law has passed:

”The law defines the practice of teledentistry as well as who can perform it. Among other provisions, the law:

  • Requires informed consent from the patient
  • Mandates confidentiality
  • Empowers the Texas Medical Board and State Board of Dental Examiners to enact appropriate rules
  • Establishes a standard of care
  • Outlines licensing requirements
  • Promotes care for underserved areas
  • Sets up rules for Medicaid coverage of teledentistry
  • Asks for biennial reports on telemedicine’s effectiveness
  • Addresses teledentistry’s use in treating children with special needs” [3]

These provisions cover many of the broader categories and related questions associated with the Texas teledentistry legislation. Some specifics for Texas providers could require clarification as the law is enacted.

It’s recommended that questions like the following be submitted to the State of Texas medical and dental boards if the law’s details are unclear:

  • Do they have to be a patient of record to receive a teledentistry visit?
  • Are you required to be a Texas licensed dentist?
  • Can you market your teledentistry service options?
  • Can you provide emergency consultations?
  • Can you provide pre-and post-op care?

Public health experts confirm the value of teledentistry. One primary benefit highlighted during the pandemic was its ability to put patients in need of emergency dental care more at ease.

Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), one of the bill’s sponsors confirms the big-picture victory the new legislation brings to Texas,

“Teledentistry better connects patients with their dentists by allowing them to offer services beyond the brick and mortar office. By passing this law, more underserved Texans will have better access to preventative dental care and be able to live a healthier life through the care they will receive,…” [4]

The bigger-than-Texas picture of teledentistry’s value to patient care

It’s common knowledge that the COVID-19 pandemic forced flexibility for patient care. Even so, it also vaulted innovations, like teledentistry and telemedicine, to a front-line solution.

The ADA (American Dental Association) has furthered the value by providing guidance and oversight for those states (now including Texas) to adopt teledentistry as a more mainstream service.

Bottom line: virtual dentistry solutions are here to stay. And the technology innovations around them will continue to evolve.

A safe, convenient opportunity for dental care access for all ages

Keep in mind that teledentistry isn’t a branch” of dentistry. It’s best to see it as a method for dental care children, adults, and the growing senior adult population.

Providers and patients can expect:

  • Flexible and convenient appointment options
  • Access to care in communities that are under-resourced or that are rural and more remote
  • Dental emergency support solutions

And…

  • A secure, HIPAA compliant, and regulated platform for virtual patient visits

Care confidence and an enhanced patient experience via a dedicated virtual platform

It’s useful to see teledentistry as a robust patient communication platform. The corrolary opportunities can be expanded beyond its initial use for virtual consults.

  • Easy, seamless patient access is possible via your dental practice website on their personal computers, smartphones, and tablet devices
  • Virtual appointments are establishing a new-normal for patient interaction. Though virtual, a teledentistry conversation can be as personal as a face-to-face interaction.

Patients are becoming more accustomed to the virtual environment for their initial consultations and/or their need for a diagnosis without having to schedule an in-office visit.

Opportunities are increasing around mobile dental services that are served by a teledentistry platform

Your services now have less borders thanks to teledentistry. The mobile dentistry opportunity naturally extends certain treatment options beyond your fixed (brick-and-mortar) facility.

  • Connect with local businesses and corporations to provide on-site health benefits using teledentistry
  • Upgrade your referral network with easier access to specialists and collaborative patient solutions
  • Partner with local schools and provide community-based education about preventive care on-site

The more patient-facing your experience the better. And teledentistry is aligned with that goal.

Check out the following resources:

7 Distinct and Innovative Uses for Teledentistry

Teledentistry: Where We Are Now and Where We are Going

If you’re committing to teledentistry (in Texas or elsewhere) it makes sense to proceed on a secure, dedicated, well-equipped platform

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.

  • Teledentix provides an easy-to-use video conferencing tool that’s secure, HIPAA compliant, and specific to dentistry.
  • Teledentix Basic is a perfect starting point. Begin with a free trial and then transition to a very low monthly fee. You and your patients can join unlimited video conferences including screen-share, file-share, video-share, and real-time chat communications.

LEARN MORE about the Teledentix platform.

 

[1]                https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/texas-passes-law-authorizing-teledentistry

[2]                https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/texas-passes-law-authorizing-teledentistry

[3]                https://dentistrytoday.com/news/industrynews/item/8507-governor-abbott-signs-texas-teledentistry-bill-into-law

[4]                https://dentistrytoday.com/news/industrynews/item/8507-governor-abbott-signs-texas-teledentistry-bill-into-law

Helpful Resources

Behind the Case: Trained Dental Hygienists Can Help Coordinate Care Using Teledentistry

Behind the Case: Trained Dental Hygienists Can Help Coordinate Care Using Teledentistry

11.22.2021 | 6 min read
Read More
Behind the Case: How Teledentistry Transcends Rural Boundaries and Establishes Community Connections

Behind the Case: How Teledentistry Transcends Rural Boundaries and Establishes Community Connections

11.14.2021 | 7 min read
Read More
A Report from the ADEA (American Dental Education Association) Encourages an Expanded Knowledge-Base For Teledentistry

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

11.08.2021 | 8 min read
Read More