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Virtual Consultations – Covid 19 guide

24th September 2020 | | Marketing

Virtual consultations never tended to be popular in the dental industry, but as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, now they are a necessity. Until a few months ago, unless you lived somewhere very remote, it will have been easy to book a face to face appointment with your Dentist. Back in March, the Chief Dental Officer issued the following advice:

Cease ALL routine dental care (including orthodontics) (UK-wide)
Cease ALL aerosol generating procedures (UK-wide)
Offer patients with urgent needs appropriate advice and prescriptions over the phone (UK-wide)
Cease ALL face-to-face urgent care (England, Scotland)

This has caused the vast majority of private dental practices to be closed – suddenly the relative advantage of virtual consultations changed dramatically. Despite dental practices reopening on the 8th of June, they are currently operating with a number of restrictions, the need for social distancing and surgery fallow time. Virtual consultations allow dentists to conduct consultations with patients without the need to wear PPE, they don’t take up chair time and surgery cleaning costs are also reduced.

What is a Virtual consultation?

A virtual consultation is essentially a video meeting that takes between a patient and a dentist. These virtual consultations usually occur over video links where diagnosis is made and appropriate dental therapy prescribed.

There are a number of different platforms you can use to get started with Virtual Consultations, but we first recommend advertising that you offer them on your website. You can do this via a popup or a banner. This website does this well https://thecrawleydentist.co.uk/ 
You can then either setup an e-consultation form https://www.clarendondental.co.uk/e-consultation/  or go a step further an use a platform like Smilemate.

How it works

Step 1

Patient visits your website

Step 2

Photos are submitted through the virtual consultation plugin

Step 3

Screening report is automatically generated on your dashboard

Step 4

Once the report is shared with your recommendations, patients can access it and engage in a conversation

Video Platforms

Once a patient has submitted a form, the dentist will need to arrange a video call. Advances in technology means that reliable video calling has become accessible and affordable. This has become especially important during the current pandemic. There are a number of different options that you can consider.

  • Skype is a messaging application that specialises in providing video chat and voice calls between computers, tablets, mobile devices. Users may send  text, video, audio and images. Skype also allows video conference calls for groups of up to 10 people.
  • Zoom is one of the most popular business video conference apps out there due to its reliability, solid web integration and other features. However there have been some reports regarding poor security standards which the company has deliberately misrepresented. The last updated addressed these issues with  stronger encryption and a one-stop security hub, and it’s now revealed a few more changes, starting with personal meeting IDs (PMIs). The company has confirmed that account holders and admins can now disable these personalized meeting IDs/links.
  • Messenger is a popular messaging  app for good reason, it works well for pretty much every kind of digital communication you might want to do with your friends. It supports up to eight people in free video calls with no duration limit, and when you are doing a two-person call it switches to a peer-to-peer structure, skipping servers and potentially avoiding congestion. But it is a Facebook product, meaning you’ll need an account there.
  • WhatsApp is a text and voice messaging app that launched in 2009. It’s become incredibly popular since then, in no small thanks to its features and flexibility. As a free service, WhatsApp allows for messages, calls and video calls for up to 4 people on both desktop and mobile devices. Part of what makes this app appealing is that it works on various phone and computer operating systems
  • Google Meet is a video conferencing app. It is the business-oriented version of Google’s Hangouts platform and is suitable for businesses of all sizes. The solution enables users to make video calls with up to 30 users per high-definition video meeting. The app allows users to join pre-scheduled meetings from calendar events, choose a link, enter meeting code and even dial in from their phones if the invitation includes a phone number

For more information on how you can setup Virtual Consultations for you practice, please click here.

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