Today (4 February): The British Orthodontic Society (BOS) has released its guidance on teledentistry and remote interactions in orthodontic care. Further to statements from both the GDC and the CQC in 2021, the BOS have produced this guidance to help orthodontic providers and their teams better understand the scope of teledentistry services and technologies as part of orthodontic care, as well as the associated issues. In addition, it will direct teams to the current regulatory frameworks, resources and highlight best operational practice.
Teledentistry is a term which covers a range of technologies and operational practices. These include various communications via interactive, two-way audio or video as well as indirect, synchronous communications, in which a patient’s information (such as questions, requests, photographs, videos) is exchanged with a dental professional for review. This may be via messaging platforms or dedicated hardware and applications.
Teledentistry can enhance patient care, assist in achieving agreed treatment outcomes, and strengthen the relationship between clinician and patient. Potential benefits of integrating teledentistry technologies and procedures into orthodontic care include greater accessibility, better patient engagement and experience, reduced physical appointments – ideal from a COVID-19 perspective as well as reduced carbon footprint, and above all, increased treatment efficiency.
In accordance with the GDC Scope of Practice, all diagnostic and prescriptive decisions must be made by the treating orthodontist/dentist who have adequate training and skills. The direct involvement of an appropriately trained and registered orthodontist/dentist is essential for the monitoring of orthodontic care. Patients undergoing treatment must be made aware of the name of the clinician responsible for their care and be able to make direct contact with this clinician as well as be able to arrange appropriate face-to-face appointments when required. Patients should be informed that clear aligner treatment, even for cosmetic purposes, is not a simple process but is a medical procedure using a medical device. Treatment should only be undertaken with the direct guidance and ongoing supervision of a named orthodontist or suitably trained dentist.
The BOS still has significant concerns surrounding the appropriate examination,
diagnosis and consent process for ‘DIY orthodontic’ systems as well as ongoing supervision and the nature of the relationship between patient and treating clinician.
BOS Director of External Relations, Anjli Patel commented,
“If used responsibly, digital technologies and associated tools or applications have potential to improve professional care and enhance both patient outcomes and convenience, adding a potentially convenient way for clinicians to engage with current or prospective patients. It can enhance patient care, assist in achieving agreed treatment outcomes, and strengthen the relationship between clinician and patient. However, it should never be used to alter clinical practice in such a way that patient safety, valid consent or treatment planning and outcomes are compromised.”
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