Tele-dentistry cut its teeth on home and digital care
According to a recent YouGov survey, nearly 88% of residents of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia appreciate the benefits of digital communication and tele-dentistry more today than before COVID-19.
The survey found that 78% of those surveyed will continue to use online communication with their dentists for non-emergency cases in the future. While only a third (32%) of those surveyed used digital communication tools to interact with their dentists during the COVID-19 lockdown, a majority (78%) of those who did said they found the digital tools handy.
44% of those surveyed saw a dentist between March and June 2020, compared to 42% who did not out of concern about potential risks amid the pandemic.
To further explore the main lessons of this crisis for the sector, Align Technology, sponsor of the YouGov survey, has set up an advisory board bringing together the main orthodontists in the region to engage in a dialogue on the impact of the pandemic. Four key themes were explored: the importance of flexibility and adaptability, the role of tele-dentistry and digital workflow, business continuity planning and the delivery of quality dental care, and improving patient confidence.
The Council found that practitioners who implemented virtual platforms were much more likely to be able to maintain business continuity during the pandemic, compared to those who had yet to embrace digitization.
The council called for the need to instill a shift in mindset by the dental industry in line with the aspirations of today’s digitally driven consumer. This means incorporating a digital ecosystem to complement their practice workflow and make processes more efficient and convenient for physicians and patients.
Angelo Maura, Managing Director, Middle East & Africa of Align Technology, said: “We firmly believe that nothing can replace the personal touch of a medical or dental professional. Nonetheless, we want to help dental health practitioners understand how they can harness the power of digitalization to transform their practices, while continuing to provide exceptional patient care in this rapidly changing landscape.
Local startup Basma
Basma, a tele-dentistry startup that offers at-home teeth straightening treatments in the Middle East and North Africa, saw a sharp increase in its 2020 revenue to 400% in May and June, compared to March. and April.
Most of its sales came from Saudi Arabia, but also orders from the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Lebanon and even European markets like France and Spain.
Launched in 2019, Basma first sells its clients an impression kit along with instructions and videos to help clients take molds of their teeth and return them to them.
Its orthodontists then prepare and send clients their treatment plans. The impression kit normally costs $ 92. If Basma’s orthodontist determines that her aligners are not suitable for clients, the startup will reimburse the payment made for the impression kit.
Customers who receive their plan can order the aligners for a one-time payment of $ 1,699 or monthly payments of $ 364. The startup claims its at-home treatment is 65% cheaper than any other clinic-based teeth straightening treatment.
Basma orthodontists monitor progress and guide clients’ personalized treatment through telehealth consultations. The Beirut-born startup raised $ 1.2 million in a fundraising round in early 2020.
Disrupt oral health
Tele-dentistry is one of the opportunities resulting from disruptions in oral health care during the pandemic, the Gerontological Society of America said in a new report with recommendations.
During the pandemic, daily brushing, flossing and other routine care tasks were sometimes left unattended for patients as long-term care staff were diverted to provide COVID-19 care , noted the report. Appropriate oral care has also been called into question by concerns from staff members about the potential for oral transmission of COVID-19.
This has drawn attention to teledentistry which can provide care when needed and before convincing administrators and clinicians of the need to resume in-person care for patients.