With millions of Americans poised to use teledentistry over the next few years, saying the industry is growing would be an understatement. Many companies have sought to capitalize on this growth, while also trying to maintain a high level of care. Consumers need to pay attention to some important characteristics when searching for a teledentistry company; to decide what makes a company great, as well as what you should try to avoid.
What Do Teledentistry Companies Do?
In brief, teledentistry companies offer remote or virtual dental services. This commonly includes services such as:
- Virtual visits
- Remote dental monitoring
- Medication prescription
- In-home orthodontics guidance
In most cases, these services aim to provide convenience to patients allowing them to receive dental care from the comfort of their own home.
5 Things to Look for When Searching for a Teledentistry Company
Finding the right teledentistry company is as important as finding a good dentist. When looking for a teledental professional, keep the following five points in mind:
1. Established Dental Companies Are More Reliable
The first thing to note is the track record of a company and how long it has been in business. The longer a business has been around, the higher the likelihood they are reputable and will provide you with excellent service. That's not to disparage new companies, but be extra cautious regarding a company that doesn't have proven success.
2. Look for Companies With Good Reviews
Another good idea is to read feedback online or talk to people you know who have used the company you're considering. There's no use going with a company that's reputation is less than stellar. You wouldn't buy anything online without looking at reviews first, and teledentistry services are no different.
Reading online reviews can give you a good idea about the overall quality of the service as well as the value for the money. A poorly reviewed company is often a sign of problems, and you don't want to take that kind of risk with your oral health. Think about how you shop online and apply some of those same principles to choosing a teledentistry company.
3. Accessibility to Dentists Matters
You also want to ensure that the company you're using is responsive and returns your requests promptly. Nothing is worse than having to wait for a company to get back to you, especially when it has to do with your health. You're likely to have some initial questions, so don't be afraid to ask them and see what their response is. Does it take a long time to get a boilerplate response, or do they respond quickly with a personalized message?
4. Work With a Virtual Dentist that Specializes in What You Need
It's also important to realize that not all teledentistry companies provide the same services. Some specialize in offering in-home orthodontics, while others provide second opinions. You'll want to make sure that the services offered genuinely align with your needs.
5. Find Out Their Payment Models
The services offered by teledentistry varies, and so does the cost. Any reputable service will be upfront about their prices and pricing models. It's also a good idea to look at your insurance to see what's covered. Even if you have to pay for the initial consultation, many teledentistry companies will find in-network dentists for you if in-person care is deemed necessary.
5 Teledentistry Company Red Flags
Just as there are good things to look for when doing your research, there are also several things you should be looking to avoid. Here are five things that should make you reconsider working with a particular company:
1. Do They Know The Laws in Your State?
It should go without saying that it's essential for your dentist to know the relevant laws in your state surrounding teledentistry. However, it is also a good idea that you familiarize yourself with these laws as well. You'll want to ensure that any prospective company is aware of, and is compliant with, all requirements. They should be able to speak knowledgeably about the laws and regulations surrounding the practice.
2. Are They Willing to Share Their Credentials?
As with any dentist, you want to make sure the person examining your teeth is a trained professional. Any reputable company should be happy to provide the credentials of their dentists.
Additionally, for the ADA to recognize a teledentistry company, they must be a licensed dentist in the state where the patient receives services. It's vital as a patient to know who's going to be working on your teeth.
3. Who Will You Be Your Main Contact?
As above, when researching companies, you'll want to make sure that their communication is adequate. You also should be paying attention to whom is replying. When you email them, are you speaking directly to a dentist, or are you getting a receptionist? Different companies will have different structures. You also want to make sure they don't give out sensitive information without a legitimate reason.
4. What are their Guidelines for Safety and Patient Privacy?
Make sure that the company with which you’re working has strict guidelines regarding health and safety policies. A company that doesn't, or won't share these policies with you, probably doesn't have your best interests in mind. Most companies are eager to share this type of information with you and will likely display it prominently on their website. Teledentistry companies want patients to feel confident and will go to great lengths to share this information in an easily accessible format.
It's also important to know who has access to your information and why. Many companies will work with third parties that need access to certain information. If this is the case, they should be able to disclose who gets this information, what exactly this information is, and why they need it.
A prospective company should be following all safety and privacy laws that apply to them without question.
5. Trust Your Research
Lastly, you must do your research and keep track of any issues you've found and any concerns you have. A good company will do what they can to help alleviate your concerns while a bad one will try to dismiss your issues. Trust your gut, and don't work with a company if you feel uncomfortable.
The Future of Teledentistry
As with anything in healthcare, consumers need to be savvy and understand their options. Teledentistry is no exception. Understanding the different companies is fundamental to receiving the best care and to avoid those that won't provide a quality service. With teledentistry only looking to grow, this knowledge will only become more critical in the ensuing years.