The figures for telemedicine and virtual health are just as striking. Teladoc Health, the largest US stand-alone telemedicine service, reported a 50 percent increase in service in the week ending March 20, and is adding thousands of doctors to its network. The Federal Communications Commission is spending $200 million to improve connectivity between patients and virtual-healthcare providers, and the US Department of Health and Human Services has increased reimbursements for telemedicine and enabled cross-state provision of virtual care.
More evidence that telemedicine (and teledentistry) will be a huge part of the future of health care. There are many reasons for this and the Covic pandemic has accelerated the change and eliminated many of the barriers to change.
Dentistry will continue to be a hands on profession however there are many tasks we could perform remotely. Following is an article I wrote a couple of years ago written as “News of the Future” that presents how we could be using teledentistry a few years from now. All the technology presented in the article is already available.
May 21, 2022: Arnold Zimmer , a San Jose dentist, prepped a tooth on a patient in Fargo North Dakota. By means of tele-dentistry techniques Dr. Zimmer used 3D images of the patient, including bones, teeth and soft tissue integrated into a virtual patient simulation transmitted to his office in California over the Internet. He transmitted his telepresence image back to the clinic in Fargo to talk with the patient and inevitably to ask him to open his mouth.
With Augmented Reality Glasses to guide him Dr. Zimmer slipped his hands into a pair of cyber gloves in San Jose to guide the digital laser handpiece connected to a surgical robot at the other end in Fargo. He used real time 3D images of the tooth prep including patient vitals off to the side and a shadow image of the pulp below the surface to help guide the prep.
The image of the prepped tooth was than transmitted to an artificial intelligence driven online system to design the restoration. The design process took 12 minutes. A master technician in Bern Switzerland then reviewed the design and checked it off in one minute. The design was whisked back to a 3D printer in Fargo to create the restoration.
Dentists and lab techs in Fargo could not be reached for comment.
3D images, virtual patient integration, telepresence robots, 3D goggles, surgical robots, augmented reality, digital impressions and 3D printers all exist right now.