Teledentistry in North America
The affordability, overcoming transportation barriers, creating employment, and being vastly used are some insights about the teledentistry industry in the United States and Canada.
Transportation Barriers and Rural Communities
- In the future, teledentistry is particularly going to positively impact transportation barriers that patients face, specifically those living in America's rural communities.
- According to the California Broker Magazine, teledentistry will mainly benefit individuals who travel long distances to see a dentist.
- About 20 percent of Americans live in rural communities that lack access to dentists. Teledentistry helps "health care providers supplement clinician staffing in areas where they are understaffed" and has the "capacity to increase providers’ services to millions of new patients."
- According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources, a nationwide surplus of hygienists and a shortage of dentists that's projected to increase to 15,600 by 2025 will inspire the dental community to create "out-of-the-box solutions," which include teledentistry.
- Through teledentistry, hygienists will be able to "make impactful changes to an outdated model of care," which will improve "patient oral health outcomes."
- In some states, hygienists are not able to fully practice if a dentist is not present. Telemedicine allows hygienists to connect virtually with dentists while administering care to patients.
Reimbursement for Teledentistry
- Almost all American states provide some kind of reimbursement for telemedicine, but only a few reimbursements include dental services. According to the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors, "individuals with Medicaid seeking care for dental problems in hospital emergency rooms is increasing."
- Due to the demand, reimbursement for teledentistry has significantly increased since 2018 and will continue.
- In fact, 20 American states adopted teledentistry reimbursement policies "in their Medicaid programs and/or private payer policies," and four states have introduced a "teledentistry legislation."
- According to the DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement, teledentistry — as well as other telehealth initiatives — are projected to create jobs in the United States and "reverse or slow the tide of rural hospital closures" in the future.
- The health care sector's employment rate is projected to increase through 2028 compared to any other job category.
- Since 2013, 109 hospitals in rural communities have closed and often, hospitals are "one of the largest employers" in rural areas.
- According to the DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement, teledentistry will be used as an educational tool in the United States.
- Some researchers say teledentistry provides dentists "easy access to efficient consultation" and allows them to conduct "postgraduate education and continuing dental education programs."
- Teledentistry will also "create new opportunities" for underserved populations by integrating "oral health improvement activities with community education, social service, and general health organizations."
- According to the University of Rochester’s Eastman Institute for Oral Health, which has provided teledentistry services to about 1,500 individuals in New York, teledentistry is currently, as well as in the future, a model for oral health care that educates, helps with research, and provides services to people.
According to DentaVox, 65 percent of patients in the United States believe telemedicine will be best used for health promotion and prevention education, while 50 percent believe it will be best for diagnosis and 27 believe it will be best for preventive procedures.
- According to DentaVox, 78 percent of American patients said they are likely to use teledentistry within the next five years.
- The top three groups that will mainly use teledentistry are working individuals, children, and people with disabilities.
- The University of Rochester’s Eastman Institute for Oral Health conducted a pilot program where they used telemedicine to screen more than 500 urban preschoolers and almost 900 underserved rural children. The program found that the children who were screened through teledentistry actually showed up for appointments, initiated oral health care, and completed treatment plans.
- In Canada, teledentistry is also expected "to transform access to oral healthcare services for children (and) seniors" and the main drivers of teledentistry will be patient preference, physician efficiency, telemedicine trends, and the removal of barriers in nursing homes, schools, and remote areas.
- A reason telemedicine is experiencing growth in the United States is because it reduces oral health care costs.
- According to the white paper, "Value proposition for teledentistry: Cost savings, improved services and more," teledentistry saves "on dental claims costs and even medical costs to the extent that better oral health can aid in managing a disease’s progression."
- Telemedicine, including teledentistry can help health care professionals save over $1,500 per visit by "diverting patients from emergency departments." For patients, savings can be about $242 "per episode of care."
After conducting an extensive research by viewing white papers, industry reports, and expert opinion pieces from news publications, the team discovered that there is limited information regarding insights about the teledentistry industry's future in the United States and Canada. While the global dental infection control products market, which includes teledentistry, is estimated to increase by $352.5 million from 2020 to 2024, there isn't any public information about the industry's market size in the United States and Canada. We have gathered the above seven insights based on the most common discussions about teledentistry from white papers, industry reports, and expert opinion pieces.