DentaQuest and Teledentistry.com have partnered to bring DentaQuest members virtual, anytime access to dental providers, alleviating barriers to care with particular focus on those in need of service after hours or while traveling. By the end of 2023, the organizations expect to make 24/7 dental care available to Medicaid and commercial dental plan members in 20 states, increasing access to care for more than 3.5 million members. DentaQuest Medicaid and CHIP members in several states, including New Hampshire and Arizona, already have access to the service.
Teledentistry refers to virtual dental appointments via voice and video technology, specifically enabling patients to consult with a licensed dentist, get treatment including possible nonnarcotic prescription medication, and receive oral health education online. A recent pilot program at DentaQuest’s affiliate dental practices in one state revealed that 30% of teledentistry consult patients did not need to follow up with in-person care and saved up to $140 per visit.
“Together, DentaQuest and Teledentistry.com bring decades of leadership and program expertise to our comprehensive nationwide provider network,” said Brett Bostrack, chief network officer for DentaQuest. “Virtual visits present a great new opportunity to ensure everyone—no matter where you are or what time of day—can access quality, efficient and effective oral health care. They also helpto alleviate overburdened hospital emergency departments and dental practice front-office staff.”
In addition to virtual dental care, the partnership is implementing patient-centered engagement services, starting with DentaQuest Medicaid and CHIP members. MESH, or Member Engagement forSustainable Healthcare, aims to raise awareness and use of available dental benefits, help identify oral disease, and get the patient established in a patient-centered dental home for definitive and ongoing care. For example, one program includes pediatrician outreach and fluoride varnish—proven to lower caries rates and an important metric for children’s oral health—that can be applied at homewith instruction from a Teledentistry.com provider.
“We are excited to help expand access to dental care for DentaQuest members all over the country,” said Dr. Vilas Sastry, chief executive officer of Teledentistry.com. “Teledentistry is not only an effective delivery model to reduce reliance on emergency rooms for nontraumatic dental conditions, but also a pathway to improved preventive care for thousands of people, and we look forward to growing this partnership.”
In a survey of existing patients, Teledentistry.com found high satisfaction—an average rating of 4.65 out of 5—with the ease of experience, and nearly 70% of respondents would have gone to the emergency room as the alternative way to get the care they needed.
In addition to reducing reliance on emergency departments (EDs) for nontraumatic dental issues, teledentistry enables:
- initial oral health screenings prior to a first in-person visit;
- caries risk assessments and referral to a dental home;
- targeted outreach for historic under-utilizers of preventive services;
- dental chronic care management with efficient, lower-cost dental hygiene at-home monitoring;
- pediatric dental outreach, including offering at-home fluoride varnish guidance; and
- effective medical-dental integration, including pediatric medical office programs and in-hospital ED dentist referral programs for ongoing dental care.
The partnership also expands on Teledentistry.com’s existing relationship with Sun Life U.S., which offers the benefit to commercial dental members. In the case of products distributed through Sun Life, group insurance policies are issued by Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada (Wellesley Hills, Mass.), except in New York, where policies are issued by Sun Life and Health Insurance Company (U.S.) (Lansing, Mich.).
FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.