Benefits administrator blog from Delta Dental

Tag: dental (Page 1 of 3)

Teledentistry 101: the virtual office visit

As businesses, schools and organizations continue to adapt to COVID-19, dental offices are embracing new conferencing tools to deliver care safely.

As part of the reopening efforts, more dentists and their patients have turned to teledentistry, an emerging trend that has the power to reshape the industry as we know it. Approximately 25% of dentists reported using some form of virtual, limited evaluation of patients, according to an April COVID-19 economic tracking poll from the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute. In July, the HPI poll showed usage slipping to 12%, noting that larger group practices are more likely to use teledentistry than solo practices.

Dr. Nathan Suter, owner of a House, Missouri, dental practice and a consulting firm, Access Teledentistry, predicts teledentistry will become more mainstream. This is due to its multiple uses, such as when a dentist is traveling or if there is a schedule conflict.

For your employees, this is a valuable option in maintaining their oral health. As a primer on teledentistry, here are insights on its use and impact and how Delta Dental is supporting this advance in care.

What is teledentistry?

Teledentistry is when a dentist conducts a virtual consultation via phone, text or video to diagnose issues, offer care advice and determine if an in-person visit is necessary.

Teledentistry appointments can be synchronous, such as a video call where the dentist and patient are interacting with each other, or asynchronous, such as when the patient sends a description of his or her situation and a photo and waits for a reply.

What kind of equipment is needed for teledentistry appointments?

The equipment and software needed may vary based on dentists’ preferences and capabilities. Teledentistry may require nothing more than a phone or may require a smart device, computer or specialized app. Businesses now incorporate videoconferencing software for team meetings, and this can be used in dental consultations.

If dental offices have reopened, why is teledentistry relevant?

Dentist offices may be open, but that doesn’t mean that your employees won’t benefit from teledentistry solutions. Just as working from home has shown the value of video meetings and connecting with co-workers without being in person, employees may find teledentistry a useful option when seeking dental care.

In a public opinion survey, 70% of respondents indicated they would take a COVID-19 vaccine once it is available, and 12% are waiting for a vaccine to go back to the dentist, according to Sports and Leisure Research Group’s “Back to Normal Barometer” in July.

Whether your employees are eager or hesitant to return the dentist, teledentistry is the perfect tool for staying in touch, getting care and getting advice without going into the dentist’s office. The ADA has issued guidelines for teledentistry, specifying patient rights regarding this delivery of care.

What is Delta Dental doing with regards to teledentistry?

Delta Dental covers teledentistry appointments at the same benefit levels as diagnostic services to ensure that employees have coverage for their dental needs while staying safe from COVID-19. We’re encouraging dentists to use teledentistry for emergency diagnoses and non-emergency consultations.

What’s more, Delta Dental is looking into partnerships with teledentistry companies to improve the experience for both dentists and their patients.

How will teledentistry change the benefits industry?

Even as vaccines are distributed and control of the COVID-19 virus can be managed, your employees may expect teledentistry to be included as a standard part of any insurance plan (for example, Kaiser Permanente is launching plans with a heavy focus on telehealth). Employees may shy away from plans and dentists that can’t accommodate teledentistry. Those who live in remote areas may gain better access to professional care through teledentistry.

Dentists may incorporate teledentistry as a viable option in their scheduling so your employees can receive care when and how they need it.

Is teledentistry covered by Delta Dental plans?

Delta Dental covers teledentistry services as problem-focused exams. That means they fall into the category of diagnostic care, and are subject to the same rules and limitations (for example, diagnostic and preventive services are usually covered at no cost to the patient, but only a certain number of such appointments are covered each year).

With dental offices adapting to safety needs, you can encourage your employees to maintain their oral health. Teledentistry provides a vital option for them to manage their care through regular checkups and access to expert consultation.

Customer service update from Delta Dental

We’re updating our IVR system to provide better service

We’re updating our interactive voice response (IVR) system to deliver quality service faster.

Callers can expect improved call routing and easier navigation, plus our new system will automatically route callers through the system (no matter which number they dial) based on their unique member ID. For instance, if an enrollee calls the number for a product they are not enrolled under, the system will re-route them to the correct queue.

As we deploy this new system, our current phone system will still be in place as a backup to support a seamless transition.

As an Enterprise, our focus is on continuously improving overall customer experience, and this is just one way we’re working to make your experience with Delta Dental even better.

5 dentists your enrollees won’t find in our networks

2‑minute read

At Delta Dental, we don’t lease any of our dental networks. In fact, our Professional Relations department specializes in developing close relationships with our providers to ensure quality care for your enrollees. This Halloween season, we’re showing you what not to expect in our networks — and that dental visits might not be so scary after all.

Mother and daughter carving pumpkin

 

Here are some doctors enrollees won’t find in our networks:

  1. Philip Sherman, Finding Nemo

Okay, so P. Sherman might not be your run-of-the-mill villain, but why would anyone want to visit a man who lets his niece torture adorable sea creatures? Plus, enrollees can find a credentialed network provider easier than getting “just keep swimming” stuck in their heads with our find a dentist tool.

  1. Stuart Price, The Hangover

While Stu seems like a stand-up guy, enrollees probably don’t want to look up from the chair and see a dentist with a missing tooth, a knot on his head and point-blank taser wounds on his neck. Ouch.

  1. Wilbur Wonka, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Unlike Willy Wonka’s father Wilbur, we don’t believe that “lollipops ought to be called cavities on a stick.” While our dentists want patients in great oral health, they don’t use scare tactics to achieve wellness. Instead, our dentists encourage regular preventive care and good oral hygiene to combat plaque and decay. (For wellness tips to share with enrollees, check out our SmileWay Wellness Program.)

  1. Orin Scrivello, Little Shop of Horrors

Arguably the most evil dentist character ever played, Orin is the exact opposite of what you’ll find in our networks. In fact, we have a whole team of dental consultants on staff dedicated to reviewing claims and preventing fraud, waste and abuse.

  1. Dr. Mindbender, G.I. Joe 

There’s no mind bending or brain scrambling here — thanks to our enrollee Online Services! Enrollees can log in at deltadentalins.com to view their benefits, check claims status and even look up average submitted fees for common services with our Fee Finder tool.

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May the Fourth (of our PPO network) be with you!

On this fourth day of May, we’d like to remind you of the benefits of PPO network utilization — Star Wars style. May the network force be with you (and with your enrollees)!

First, we interviewed Yoda about the benefits of offering a PPO plan. He says, “To offer your enrollees a PPO plan because they have the freedom to choose any dentist, you probably chose. And with a Delta Dental PPOSM plan, offering secondary access with our Delta Dental Premier® network, you are.”

And he’s right — with Delta Dental PPO, more of your enrollees have an opportunity for moderate savings with a Premier dentist. (But they’ll usually save the most if they go PPO, which is why it’s important for enrollees to understand how to use their plan.)

Need some Jedi wisdom on your dental benefits? Here are some answers to common questions and some things for you (and your enrollees) to consider.

Network (and non-network) dentist visits: A battle scenario

Let’s say your enrollees are young Jedis about to battle skilled Sith warriors. In this scenario, the Sith warriors are the out-of-pocket costs of going to the dentist. So, have your enrollees choose a weapon.

  • No weapon means minimal protection — kind of like visiting a non-Delta Dental dentist. Your enrollees aren’t taking advantage of any of the network savings that your carrier is offering.
  • Using a lightsaber is nice, but your enrollees wouldn’t bring a lightsaber to a blaster fight, would they? This is moderate protection — like visiting a Delta Dental Premier dentist.
  • Finally, using a blaster is usually your enrollees’ most reliable form of protection. Like visiting a Delta Dental PPO dentist, they’re getting the most protection against Siths — er, out-of-pocket costs.

“What if my group has a PPO plus Premier plan design?” We thought you might ask. In that scenario, you’re offering your enrollees more protection against balance billing than you would be with a standard PPO plan, but they (and your group’s overall plan costs) will usually benefit most from going PPO.

Dental networks and finding a dentist

A dental plan is only as valuable as its network. That’s why we’re proud to offer expansive, nationwide PPO access. If you think an army of storm troopers is a crowd, you haven’t seen our provider directory.

And your enrollees don’t have to go to Tatooine to find network savings — tell them to log in to our online services and use our Find a Dentist tool to find a PPO dentist near their home, office or any chosen location.

Encouraging PPO utilization 

You should talk with your employees about the benefits of in-network dentist visits, like more potential savings and more convenience with no claims forms.

In Yoda’s words, pass on what you have learned! Consider attaching this instructional flyer to your next group email and encourage them to search only for PPO dentists. And remember — the force is strong with those who go PPO.

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4 ways to celebrate National Nutrition Month

Are your employees eating well? Food and drink choices can have a major impact on dental health. This March, share Delta Dental’s online resources for National Nutrition Month.

Check out these five easy ways you can help your employees make dental-savvy dietary choices:

  1. Download the latest SmileWay® Wellness kit. You’ll find ready-to-use flyers and posters on everything from chocolate to nutrition essentials. The pdfs can be sent by email or posted to your intranet. Or, print them on a color printer.
  2. Email your employees to let them know about National Nutrition Month. The kit includes an email template you can open in Microsoft Outlook, customize to your needs and send with just the click of a button. The email is packed with links to articles, videos and recipes.
  3. Boost your employees’ dental IQ with helpful articles about all things nutrition. The nutritional section of our SmileWay Wellness site has plenty of fresh articles to share.
  4. Find tooth-friendly recipes in our expanded recipe list. These dishes and desserts feature tooth- and gum-supporting ingredients and minimal sugar content.
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