In the wake of COVID-19, new social distancing measures and tighter cross infection controls have created many challenges for dental professionals.
As advice and recommendations for DCPs continues to evolve regarding fallow periods, treatments and patient capacity, there is now more emphasis on developing relationships with patients outside of the dental practice setting.
For most, this means carrying out remote consultations.
Remote consultations and virtual appointments are becoming increasingly popular as a means to triage and assess patients. This presents an opportunity for dentistry to follow in their footsteps and adopt a new way of working. 1
The two most common ways to perform these are by telephone and video conference.
When remote consultations are suitable
Where face-to-face appointments are not a feasible option, remote consultations can be a timely and sensible solution.
For remote consultations to be a practical alternative, you need to be confident that you can sufficiently assess the patient both accurately and effectively. If this is not the case, then patients should be advised about how to seek the most appreciate dental care for their situation, based upon local government guidelines. 1
You should make a note in the patient’s clinical records that you have assessed their suitability for remote consultation. 1
During the remote consultation itself, it is important that both the dentist and patient can reliably identify one another. It is recommended that you also clarify for the patient why an appointment in person has not been possible. 1
When dealing with emergency, patients should be encouraged to seek face-to-face support, based upon their local government guidelines. 1
We would also suggest that patients identified as being at increased caries risk should be booked in an appointment at the practice as soon as possible.
Remote consultations are more advisable for existing patients where you have access to their current dental records. However, there may be exceptional circumstances to this.
Remote consultation with new patient should only be undertaken if you can gain adequate clinical and medical information. This is essential if you are to assess the patient and provide remote advice.
If you cannot suitably assess the patient, you can either book them into an appointment at your practice or guide them to nearby treatment centres, depending on local government guidelines.
Remote consultation/assessment with follow-up prescription
Prescriptions can be issued to patients who has have a remote assessment by the dentist. These can be made if:
- It is clinically justified and in accordance to local regulations.
- It is the most appropriate treatment option.
- You are satisfied that you have full information about the patient’s medical history.
- You have been able to fully assess the patient’s dental problem and needs. It is important that you provide evidence for this in the patient’s dental records.
- The patient is on a repeat prescription and requires on-going prevention/treatment with high fluoride toothpaste.
All prescriptions made following remote consultations should be collected at the dental practice.
- General Dental Council (2020) ‘High level principles for good practice in remote consultations and prescribing’ online at https://www.gdc-uk.org/docs/default-source/guidance-documents/high-level-principles-remote-consultations-and-prescribing.pdf, accessed October 2020.
This campaign is delivered by the Oral Health Foundation, a charity creating healthier communities by delivering better oral health. The campaign is sponsored by Colgate-Palmolive.