As a company, and as doctors, we've always had a close relationship with dentists and dentistry.
My Dad was a dentist (and was even President of the American Dental Association in 1979); my brother is a dentist. One of our most important investors and advisors is a dentist (and colleague.) Also, as a reconstructive surgeon (doing a lot of work with cleft palates), dentists have always been valued and respected colleagues in the creative work of caring for these complex patients.
Dentists face unique challenges and opportunities in the world of medicine, though. When we talk about the isolation and siloing of medical providers, dentists often face the worst of it. So many of the ClickCare customers we've had who are dentists have said that the biggest benefit is care coordination.
We see one manifestation of this challenge that dentists face with care coordination in the data showing a steady rise in ER vists (many unnecessary) for dental issues.
This well documented report highlights the need of access of care. Dentistry is not alone, but the report clarifies nicely that access to care is a fundamental reason that the expensive, time wasting, inappropriate use of the emergency department is a problem. Not coincidently over 40% of this use of the emergency room is for the patient who is labeled “self pay”.
This report is worrisome for us at the patient level, the populational level, and as evidence that there is more work to be done when it comes to making the coordination of care possible and effective. Underlying the technology -- and more importantly the mission -- of ClickCare is our drive to facilitate access to care for the patient, collaboration for the providers, and education of colleagues, medical students (of all kinds), patients, and families.
Given that these ER visits will not stop immediately, and given that there are other places that could be called “originating sites”, would it not make sense to use Hybrid Store-and-Forward telemedicine to help the patient get the right care at the right time without burning out the providers and the system? Access doesn't have to mean in-person visits with every provider -- and telemedicine (especially a platform that works on your existing hardware or smartphones) can be an economical way to improve access and prevent last-ditch emergency visits.
If nothing else, medical collaboration helps with provider burnout. Decreasing telephone calls about unknown patients with unclear descriptions is important. (Home many of you know where the distal part of a tooth is?)
Finally, education about disease alone, is important, but also, educating each other about our roles, expertise and importance is, in the end, maybe more important.
The ultimate goal of care coordination is prevention -- prevention of disease, provention of unnecessary costs, prevention of conditions that could have been treated more simply in the office rather than later, in the ER.
Are you a dentist interested in using telemedicine in your practice? You can try iClickCare for free by clicking here.