The COVID-19 pandemic has been a transformative event for all of our lives, and things won’t simply go back to normal in 2021. Whilst all industries have been affected by changes to workplaces and working practices, the dental industry in particular has seen a transformation in relation to oral health and wellbeing. From the rise of the digital dentist to big changes in medical insurance plans, Toothpic leading dental experts share what their predictions are for the coming 12 months – Here are their top 5:
The rise of the dental data craze
2020 has been the year of the virtual gym, with record numbers of people investing in fitbits and other wearables to pay more attention to their health metrics. But whilst doctors are beginning to take the first steps to integrate this consumer data into their own consultations, 2021 will be the year that dentists become much more exposed to digital and data driven solutions. Integration of hardware such as wearables with software solutions will enable dentists to build up a holistic oral health profile of a patient from something as simple as an image captured on a smartphone, or as complex as data from a diet tracker. This improved remote monitoring of personal oral data will ultimately lead to more of a focus on preventative rather than reactive dental care.
Medical plans will begin to integrate dental benefits as standard
Traditionally, dental cover has been seen as separate from medical insurance plans or something which is thrown in as an afterthought; however, thanks to teledentistry, integrating dental cover into medical insurance plans has become much more cost effective for insurance providers over the past year.
Remote, digital access to dentists on demand is not only cost-effective, but it offers users a consumer facing product right from the start. In 2021 we are likely to see the rise of the health insurance plan which includes dental more and more and in 2022 it will start to become the norm for users to have a one stop shop insurance plan for all their healthcare needs.
Medical plans will continue their path to digitalization
Many got the taste for digital during lockdown; whether it was remote working, virtual gym classes or Zoom calls with family, we’ve all relied on digital technology to some degree to get through lockdown. The insurance industry too got a taste of digitalization, as health check-ups and dental appointments went virtual to avoid face to face meetings. With insurance providers and plan users alike being exposed to the convenience and speed of remote digital consultations, health plans will continue to increase their digital offering into 2021 and beyond with rapid virtual consultations and remote analysis of health data from a range of wearables becoming a standard offering in health and dental plans.
Digital dentists are here to stay
2020 has been a year of change for the way in which dentists operate, and like so many other industries, things won’t be going back to normal in 2021. With new constraints on cleaning between patients, the back-to-back appointments business model on which dentists have relied for so long is untenable even as we exit the height of the winter pandemic. This, coupled with the improvements in teledentistry and the ability for dentists to offer remote virtual consultations, means that digital dentists are here to stay. 2021 will be the beginning of the end for the standard twice yearly dental check-up, as practices further rollout remote on-demand dental consultations for patients.