For dentistry, this particular year is a time to consider how we can successfully adapt our businesses to better meet the needs of our patients and ourselves at the same time.
This year is predicted to bring many things. As the pandemic persists and global economic growth is slower than anticipated, the demands of customers are growing stronger—they want convenience, flexibility, and reassurance, as well as seamless cross-channel experiences.
As dental professionals, the changes in our personal lives are enough to provide insight regarding the expectations of our customers—dental patients. Currently, dental patients prefer to be treated as consumers because this is what they’re used to. Every day people are targeted with constant advertisements, drip emails, and social campaigns. On social media we’re inundated with trends, influencers, and brand ambassadors. Don’t forget about the growth in companies like Uber, GrubHub, Airbnb, and Amazon that so many people have come to rely on. Change came in the blink of an eye.
What does all this mean for dentistry?
This means our industry is no longer a flat, or even dreaded, experience. It means people expect our messaging, services, and care to be provided through multiple dimensions and methods. No longer do we have to hold our breath and cross our fingers in anticipation of our next patient walking through the door. Our first patient encounter does not need to be in the clinical chair, taking up valuable op time. We no longer need to be the “tooth fixers.” Instead, we can provide remote feedback and educational texts, videos, and apps to help our patients focus on prevention and understand the confusing oral health messages they receive.
Virtual consults, electronic communication, recorded video, text messaging, patient portals, electronic health records, and online payment systems are all part of telehealth in dentistry—teledentistry. In my current roles, I’m witness to many industry brands that are constantly innovating and working hard to design platforms that offer these types of services. Many are finding ways to work together and within our existing platforms so that dental practices can be more efficient and effective.
The most important thing you need to know this year is: your patients are welcoming virtual health care with arms wide open, including virtual dental care. There will always be a time and place for in-person clinical care, but why not take advantage this ability and increase the flexibility, convenience, and demand of your dental practice by implementing and growing your virtual care offerings?
Editor's note: This article appeared in the March 2022 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.