Teledentistry in Action: Medical-Dental Integration at Greene County Health Care

In eastern North Carolina, Greene County Health Care (GCHC) is embracing teledentistry, one of many innovative steps they are taking to improve patient care and meet the needs of traditionally underserved populations.

“I think the thing that’s most exciting about teledentistry is the integration of medical and dental,” said Dr. Rob Doherty, chief dental officer at GCHC. “I’m looking at the patient and I’m talking to them face-to-face, and I also have that medical provider there in case there are questions.”

Dr. Doherty and Chi Nguyen, a physician assistant at GCHC, recently filmed a joint teledentistry appointment with a patient, which you can watch during Oral Health Day Part 2, a follow up to NCOHC’s annual oral health advocacy event. Learn more, register, and join the virtual event on October 23 from 1-3 p.m.

During a screening with Nguyen, the patient mentioned experiencing pain in his mouth. Rather than schedule a separate appointment with a dental provider, Nguyen was able to loop Doherty into the video call.

Picture of Dr. Rob Doherty talking to a patient via a computer webcam

Doherty consulting with Nguyen and her patient through GCHC’s teledentistry software platform.

“Chi had a patient on the line who she was just checking on. He had made a comment that he had a hard time sleeping because a tooth was bothering him, and it was a little bit swollen,” said Doherty. “So, she just sent me an email and I was able to speak with him face-to-face and really get an idea of what the problem was. I had the schedule right in front of me and I was able to get him an appointment at 2:30 that afternoon.”

Doherty said that the video call helped him get a much better idea of the problem, something he wouldn’t have been able to do had the patient just called in and said he had tooth pain.

“It is awesome, us being able to see a patient and have a three-way appointment,” said Doherty. “We can get so much done, we can be so convenient for that patient, and it’s just plain better care.”

Of the benefits that teledentistry provides, Doherty highlighted just how important time saved can be. Health centers like GCHC see large volumes of patients who otherwise wouldn’t have access to affordable care.

“Every time we open up a new site, we’re swamped,” said Doherty. “We have a long waiting list, and we have to limit the number of patients that we see.”

With technological innovations like teledentistry, providers can increase efficiency, provide care to more patients, and work through those waiting lists.

“I think the horizons are really opening up for us in teledentistry,” said Doherty.

Join NCOHC, Doherty, and the dental directors for Kintegra Health and Piedmont Health on October 23, 2020 to explore the many ways clinics in North Carolina are using teledentistry to improve patient care. At the virtual event, you will also hear from national experts, including the “father of teledentistry,” Dr. Paul Glassman, and more! Register today!