Resources | OHI Toolkit | Option 2: Currently Offers On-Site Dental Services | Expansion/Addition of Off-Site Direct Services
Teledentistry is an emerging trend for health centers and is a viable option to expanding off-site direct dental services. Health centers can use this checklist in planning for a teledentistry or virtual dental program:
Build the case and get support for a teledentistry program as a cost-effective method for expanding oral health services. The Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors’ (ASTDD) white paper discusses how teledentistry can facilitate access to care.
Check your state’s current telehealth-related laws and policies.
The SMILES Dental Project has resources to support health centers in planning their virtual dental home project including budgets and IT systems. Telehealth Resource Centers (TRCs) provide assistance, education, and information to organizations actively providing or interested in providing health care at a distance. OHWRC’s Case Studies of 6 Teledentistry Programs outlines factors considered when planning and implementing teledentistry services and infrastructure requirements.
Consider financial sustainability of the program and how it will be funded. The HRSA OHI funding can be used to purchase teledentistry equipment.
Establish community partnerships.
Determine the teledentistry or virtual dental home model for your health center including setting (i.e., Head Start Centers, schools, residential facilities, long-term care facilities, etc) and services provided. Different models can include dental hygienists within the Virtual Dental Home model or interprofessional telehealth-connected teams.
Determine technology (i.e. electronic records, telehealth equipment, and transmission modes) that will be used based on the type of interaction between the patient and provider, information being transmitted, or communication medium.
Ensure the teledentistry network and electronic dental records comply with HIPAA requirement and federal standards for system security.
Establish clinical workflows, new dental team roles, and communication processes between on-site and remote site care teams (i.e., synchronous vs. asynchronous). The HRSA OHI funding can be used to redesign workflows to support the use of telehealth and virtual dentistry to increase access to oral health services.
Prepare sites for clinical care through provider and staff training and education.
Establish an ongoing program evaluation and quality improvement process.
A NNOHA promising practice, Increasing Access to Care through Teledentistry, features a health center that implemented a Virtual Dental Home. Another NNOHA promising practice, Implementing a Pediatric Teledentistry Program, discusses a health center’s experience in utilizing teledentistry to increase access to care for pediatric patients.
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