Remote Monitoring in the Private Practice
By now, you have probably heard about the growing popularity of self- and remote monitoring technologies which are sweeping healthcare. Consumer-focused devices such as Fitbit®, and clinical systems that capture health data, track medication adherence and treatment compliance are forever changing the way health data is understood and shared between patient and practitioner.
Remote patient monitoring is already widely used in many fields including cardiology, pulmonology and dermatology, changing not only the relationship of patients to their healthcare provider, but also empowering patients’ abilities to understand their own well-being. Now, affordable technology is also available which enables self- and remote monitoring of dental conditions.
For self- and remote monitoring to be effective in the dental setting, there’s really just one key way to share information – visually. Whether patients send a photo of a chipped tooth using their smartphone or by using an intraoral camera specifically designed for consumer use, visual communication enables patients to provide their dentists with a more complete and accurate “picture” of an issue when a verbal description over the phone would be ambiguous or incomplete.
Furthermore, giving patients the ability to see their entire mouth with their home computer not only encourages improved home care, but also allows them to see the areas of their teeth where cosmetic or restorative treatment might be desirable. With greater visibility of dental conditions, patients self-generate interest in cosmetic treatments, boost recall adherence and foster a stronger connection to their dentist, all without the dentist being in the role of salesperson or recall hound. And hygienists or dentists can schedule visual remote consultations and reminders to make sure the care recommendations discussed during the office visit don’t go in one ear and out the other.
Even insurance companies are beginning to acknowledge the benefits of remote dental evaluations. For example, beginning January 1, 2015 in California, remote dental visual consultation will be funded by Medicaid. California is among the first states to launch such teledentistry services, which are intended to increase the options for patients in remote and underserved areas. Other states, including Alaska, Oregon, Colorado, Hawaii and West Virginia, are interested in creating their own teledentistry programs.
Of course, you and your staff won’t be interested in having patients share the number of calories they’ve burned or their blood pressure history with remote monitoring devices. But now, your practice can easily increase case acceptance, boost recall visits and enhance patient engagement through the use of visual monitoring via consumer-priced intraoral cameras, mobile apps and secure image sharing software.
I think this concept would work well for orthodontic patients, too. If a bracket or wire broke, the patient could show the problem, and a staff member could advise whether it could be solved at home. That would avoid the orthodontist having to fit in an emergency visit.
I agree about the orthodontic use (have a daughter in braces) and I think this oral camera would also be a useful tool at home in teaching children proper brushing…visusally you could show them what they areas they are missing. Oral care is such an important of overall health.
[…] Remote Monitoring in the Private Practice Remote patient monitoring is already very popular in the fields of cardiology, pulmonology and dermatology. This technology has led to closer patient doctor relationships and has allowed the patient to learn more about their own well- being. Now, with more affordable and targeted technology, remote monitoring is becoming more readily available to the dental field. Read on for more information on how this type of technology can improve your practice. […]
This will be a great and useful technology, especially as our personal devices such as smartphones continue to improve and now come with Health-sharing information standard on many devices. It could seriously improve care and allow doctors, dentists, and other health care practitioners to keep tabs on their patients and look up issues that the patient may want to mention but may have otherwise forgotten or was too embarassed to talk about. There is a razor edge here though with privacy, and I think it will be a few years before those concerns are addressed and put to rest.