Is A Medical Model Right for Your Practice? Part 1: Telehealth

When you go to a primary care physician for a routine examination, chances are you’ll get weighed, have your “vitals” (blood pressure, temp, pulse) taken, have your lungs and chest listened to, ears, nose and mouth explored. Perhaps they’ll take an EKG to monitor your heart. Lastly, they’ll ask you to provide a urine sample and have blood taken so some lab tests can be run.

What happens afterwards?

Since the results of your urinalysis and blood work take several days to get back, there’s often a follow up visit to discuss the results. It’s a 2-step process.

But that 2-step process is not what happens in many dental practices. Technology, such as digital x-rays, have enabled us to make same-day diagnosis and present treatment. And so, our patients have become spoiled in expecting same day examinations and diagnosis. But is that what’s best for your patients? Does the fact that your system is built around same-day diagnosis and treatment presentation prevent you from offering oral diagnostics by OralDNA® Labs and getting a more comprehensive analysis of your patient’s microbiome? My guess is that it does. And there’s a solution.

Let’s say that your current new patient system is built around having patients get radiographs, seeing the hygienist and doctor and getting a treatment proposal, setting up financial arrangements and scheduling a next appointment. If that’s been working for you (which is doubtful based on 2021 data from Jarvis Analytics that says that the average case acceptance rate is 35%), then don’t change. Change is difficult.

But what about using OralDNA® Labs testing and giving patients the benefit of knowing their bacteria profile? Now can you incorporate the lab results into your existing process!

Use technology to help your patients. In this case, TELEHEALTH.

Once the results are back, a telehealth visit can be arranged to present the findings and discuss how they might impact the proposed treatment plan, discussing additional therapies that might be necessary to modify the microbiome, and other risk factors, as well as customize the maintenance schedule appropriately. By incorporating telehealth into your practice, you will be setting your practice apart from most others and offering your patients a convenient way of communicating with your practice.

The value of such technology is that you can also use the amazing graphics supplied with the OralDNA® Labs reports to educate and encourage patients to allow your practice to help guide them towards better oral and systemic health. Specifically, the graphic of how the oral microbiome impacts other areas of the body can be an effective tool to help patients appreciate the interconnectivity of their body’s systems.

This same process can be used for recare or maintenance patients. One of the impediments to taking an oral rinse test on such patients is that it too presents an issue of how to present the results. Another visit to the office would be something most practices and patients would want to avoid.

Telehealth to the rescue.

With a telehealth program, saliva testing can be performed on the initial appointment, and a follow-up scheduled via telehealth to discuss the results and any therapies that might be helpful to promote a healthier microbiome and overall health.

Stay tuned for next week’s blog: Is the Medical Model right for you? Part 2 where we will explore a two-visit new patient process.

For more from Dr. Michael Goldberg, visit the Practice Perfect Systems page of our Protocol Directory.

Michael Goldberg DMD