October 7, 2020
It comes as no surprise to all of us that the way that we work is changing, COVID 19 has brought with it a new set of challenges for all those in the medical profession. In July 2020 the Health Secretary, Matthew Hancock, announced the need for ‘more Zoom medicine’ and during the COVID 19 pandemic there has been a hugely positive response to virtual consultations, a new way of working borne out of need.
The dental profession has grasped the idea of running virtual consultations, either by telephone or the use of video conferencing, to great effect. Patients can access medical opinions without having to set foot in a practice and the benefits of this approach are an obvious advantage, which is likely to persist when normality, whatever that means, returns to healthcare.
Medical/dental guidance states that all consultations should be tele-consultations unless there's a compelling clinical reason not to is the guideline we have been given. In my role as a Consultant in Musgrove Park Hospital our Multi-Disciplinary Treatment clinics for head and neck cancer patients have been run as virtual clinics for many years, enabling units in the South West to link up and discuss complex cases over the internet. This has now been rolled out such that the local units no longer gather in a room, they meet online. There is little reason to change that in the future.
At Bristol Dental Specialists we have been carrying out virtual consultations throughout the entire COVID 19 lockdown. It works well for many reasons and it’s fair to say that everyone has gone through a digital revolution equal to five years in the past six months! Emotional expressions presented by faces do have a communicative component and as experienced clinicians we can tell an enormous amount from non-verbal communication, I have certainly dealt with more people in pain in the last few months than during the last three decades of my career and one just knows when someone is in pain by their demeanour.
We are offering virtual consultations to discuss various dental treatments with new and existing patients. If you would like to refer a patient to us we will more than likely offer a virtual consultation before arranging a face to face meeting, allowing us to assess the patient without them having to leave their home – long live the virtual consultation!
Specialist in Restorative Dentistry and founding partner of Bristol Dental Specialists