How Advantage Dental+ Proved that Teledentistry Success is Scalable and Replicable

Advantage Dental+ is a DSO composed of more than 70 locations, over 200 providers and more than 600 support employees throughout five states. Our network of practices provide care to over a quarter of a million patients annually.

Our company’s patient-centric philosophy states that oral health care should be based on the individual, and that everyone should have a personalized treatment plan.

The Advantage Dental approach to oral care creates a partnership between our patients and our practice teams, which in turn, provide personalized, quality care that fits the patient’s oral and full-body health goals. Advantage calls this patient care philosophy, Preventistry®.

Taking Preventistry to the Next Level in a Post-COVID World

The Challenge:

Advantage Dental recognized the value teledentistry could offer our patients long before the pandemic. Our plans to implement a teledentistry program accelerated in early 2021 when COVID-19 restrictions placed significant limitations on access to care for our patients.

Specifically, we needed to find a teledentistry solution that could support our holistic approach to the delivery of oral health care during the pandemic and beyond.

Furthermore, Advantage Dental is in a unique position as both a dental benefits carrier and a care delivery group, so our goals to increase access and enhance the patient experience required a teledentistry platform that could fully-support newfound efficiencies in comprehensive oral care delivery.

The Solution:

After carefully evaluating several teledentistry solutions, we found that TeleDent by MouthWatch checked all the boxes for security and scalability across the technology and care needs of our patients.

Once we made the final decision, the MouthWatch Client Success Team worked closely with our technology and clinical teams and onboarded a series of Advantage Dental locations in a pilot deployment.

For this pilot, a small team of dentists was scheduled to be virtually available via TeleDent to respond to patients who contacted the Advantage Contact Center with an urgent oral health concern or appointment request.

Based on the type of appointment or clinical needs determination, patients could be scheduled for a virtual consultation with a teledentistry provider as an initial point of contact.

After the initial pilot phase, the program was expanded to include office staff along with providers to accommodate a broader range of appointments including post-operative care, treatment plan presentation, referrals and more.

Measuring Teledentistry Success:

Advantage Dental reached the 2021 goal of shifting 5% of appointments to teledentistry encounters and surpassed that goal with a 7% shift. The key benefits identified by our technology and clinical leadership teams since the implementation of TeleDent have been:

  • Additional capacity for in-person care
  • Increase in capitated revenue for additional patients
  • Increased patient access

 Cost Savings & Efficiency:

The cost of treating patients with teledentistry as part of their care was 70% lower annually than that of dental patients seen exclusively in person. The most common procedures for the first post-teledentistry, in-person dental encounters were:

  • Periodic or comprehensive examinations: 56%
  • Extractions: 9%
  • Restorations: 6%
  • Sealants: 3%

Other Statistics Worth Noting:

  • 7 in 10 patients scheduled an in-person dental visit within a week of their teledentistry visit.
  • 84% of teledentistry patients had an in-person, post-teledentistry visit within the calendar year. (e.g., 16% received definitive care for their issue via teledentistry.)

Positive Patient Experience

The vast majority of Advantage Dental patients expressed positive opinions after receiving care via teledentistry.

  • Nearly 9 in 10 patients (86%) said they were satisfied with their overall teledentistry experience.
  • 86% said they would use teledentistry again.
  • 95% said they were “able to speak freely with the dentist and ask questions” when they used teledentistry.
  • 93% reported being able “to easily understand what the dentist told me about my concern.”
  • 86% said they would recommend teledentistry to another person.
  • 69% reported that their concern was taken care of during the teledental visit.
  • Nearly one-third (31%) reported they didn’t need in-office care following their teledentistry appointment.

Conclusion:

When using the right “professional grade” platform, teledentisty success for DSOs is scalable and replicable throughout the organization. Improvements in cost and time savings, clinical workflows and patient satisfaction are quickly realized and easily measured. In the case of Advantage Dental, teledentistry has been instrumental in expanding the reach and impact of our company’s philosophy – Preventistry®, and mission to improve the oral health of all. Today, TeleDent is the exclusive teledentistry platform currently used in all virtual patient encounters across Advantage Dental practices.

About the Author:

Fred Menko Vice President, Growth Strategy and Experience, Advantage Dental+

Fred Menko joined DentaQuest in February 2019. He brings over 10 years of healthcare marketing experience most recently at Envision Healthcare (formerly AMSURG) where he led the in-house marketing/advertising agency supporting patient acquisition efforts for over 250 surgery centers in 34 states and supporting recruitment and business growth initiatives for the nation’s largest group practice providing physician services to over 800 hospitals. Before that, Menko led digital product development at newspaper groups in Michigan and Tennessee. His focus is on a unified marketing function focused on new patient acquisition strategies, provider recruitment support, and branding strategies for Advantage Dental+.

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