Category: Author: Taylor Dahlstedt
We have a new tool for our clients—the Infinity Dental Web virtual smile consultation app.
Even before the coronavirus pandemic there have been large increases in virtual patient care. A report published by the American Medical Association over a year ago reported exponential increases in the use of telemedicine. The pandemic has vastly accelerated that growth, with a reported more than quintupling in just over a month this March and April.
One of our clients, Dr. Fred Arnold of Lexington, KY, asked us about this. They had checked with a company who had developed an app for this but they wanted $300 a month for this app. We told them we thought we could create an app that didn’t require a monthly fee. At the beginning of July our technical department began working on this and by the end of the month we had a fully functional beta version installed on his website. It has since been successfully used by several of his patients.
Virtual consults are particularly applicable for cosmetic dentistry consultations. Many of our clients already offer a complimentary cosmetic consultation where the dentist takes a quick look at a smile, listens to the patient’s questions, and offers some idea of what could be done to answer their concerns. A complimentary virtual consult is a natural extension of that type of appointment and to us seems like a very useful service for many practices.
If your patients want to hear an explanation of what you could do to improve their smile, from the convenience of their own home, this is the solution. In the age COVID, anything you can have your patients do from the comfort of their own home is helpful.
How It Works
A pop-up box (we call it a widget) is created that displays on your website. We recommend installing it on the home page and on key cosmetic dentistry pages. In addition, a page can be created that explains the app and optimizes your website for the term “virtual consult.” A link leading to the page would also be placed in the main website menu.
To get started, the widget will ask the patient to give a little bit of information about themselves and any desires they have regarding their smile and any questions. For the best results, the patient will upload one full face and one close-up smile photo to the widget. The clearer the photo, the better. The patient can also provide details on what they want to change, any relevant history, and their overall treatment goals.
You will then get an email alerting you to the inquiry. You can respond with a personalized video, addressing any questions or concerns, as well as providing some treatment recommendations. You’ll send the video back to the patient and invite them to schedule an in-person visit at the office to give them more detailed information about what their case requires and to hopefully proceed with treatment.
There are other virtual consult apps that have been developed. Ours is different from them in a couple of significant ways. First, it is specifically geared for cosmetic dentistry consultations. Second, it does not route patients through a third party website but keeps them on your website. Third, it doesn’t require a substantial monthly fee.
How We Trimmed the Cost
There are two companies who have pioneered this virtual consult app, but they both charge a monthly fee of about $300. From their point of view, that is understandable. Since that’s the only service they are offering their clients, they need to collect a significant fee in order to run their company. They justify it by claiming that they need expensive routing and storage arrangements for HIPAA compliance. However, federal HHS rules are clear that this isn’t necessary. As explained on their website, an email communication that is initiated by the patient does not have to be encrypted or stored on an encrypted server but can use ordinary email. With our app, to be extra cautious, we post a disclaimer on the form advising patients not to share any sensitive personal information. According to federal guidelines, this goes above and beyond any legal requirement the dentist has for an email communication that is initiated by the patient.
Interested? Give us a call.
While there are some maintenance requirements after the app is installed on your website, we are waiving any maintenance charges for existing clients and there will only be a one-time installation fee plus a discounted new page fee if you opt to add a new page explaining virtual consults. The new page isn’t needed for the functionality of the app, but as we mentioned above, it is helpful if you want to be found in search engines for virtual consults.