21 Dec What the 2018 CDT codes mean for the future of teledentistry.
Teledentistry provides fast and economical connections between patients and dentists by integrating new technologies in the field. This form of dentistry falls under the umbrella of “telehealth,” an overarching term used for any form of electronic or technological communication channels that allows for remote health care or services. With this new format of patient-practitioner interaction, we can better meet the needs of both patient and dentist all while keeping up with the fast-moving pace of technology.
As of now, 48 states include telehealth services in their healthcare legislation, California being among them. Two new forms of teledentistry are accounted for in the newly released CDT codes, pointing towards a mounting need for properly documented use of teledentistry.
A Breakdown of the Codes
The 2018 release of the Dental Procedure Codes included two brand new code entries for teledentristy, listed as D9995 and D9996. These codes account for two possible implementations of teledentirstry: synchronous and asynchronous. A synchronous encounter is a real-time interaction between patient and provider, while asynchronous teledentristy entails storage of patient health information—such as photo, video, scans and more—for the practitioner to view and use later on. This last one is also referred to as the “store-and-forward” method. With both of these methods accounted for in the 2018 CDT codes, we may see an uptick in the use of teledentistry across the country.
The introduction of these new codes comes after their initial rejection from the Code Maintenance Committee in 2015. After consideration, the ADA House of Delegates decided that teledentistry was important enough to be accounted for in the 2018 CDT codes, solidifying its growing importance in the field.
What does this mean for the future of Teledentistry?
The new CDT codes will make it easier and simpler for dentists to implement new remote consultations into their practice using technology. Dental practitioners can feel more secure in their use of teledentistry software thanks to the codes. Additionally, their inclusion in the CDT codes signals the increasing importance of this new avenue for dental practice, by providing patients with personal care in an increasingly technological world.
Teledentistry is on its way to becoming a permanent facet of the field; the CDT codes further solidify its place in the dental world.