Amazon changed the nature of commerce. Companies such as Uber spurred the growth of the “gig” or “sharing” economy. These models have disrupted a wide variety of business sectors, from transportation to lodgings, entertainment, and business-to-business supply chains. Our increasingly digital infrastructure has empowered these shifts, but consumer demand is the catalyst for the explosive growth of an on-demand, doorstep delivery expectation that has come to define the modern shopping experience. And healthcare, whether medical or dental, won’t be far behind.
I Want It Now, I Want It Here
Emerging on-demand platforms have combined rapid delivery with cost efficiency and consumer convenience. Even before the advent of COVID-19, which fueled the massive growth of delivery and e-commerce services, shoppers had already begun to rely more on Amazon than the brick-and-mortar stores they once frequented. The pandemic may have abated, but studies show that these purchasing trends have not. A May 2021 study from Retail Dive indicates that electronic commerce habits will continue to spread.
- A new report from eMarketer projects that retail e-commerce sales in the U.S. will increase by 13.7% to $908.73 billion — lower than last year’s 18% to $709.78 billion surge, but still exceeds pre-pandemic estimates of 12.8%.
- The report predicts that apparel and accessories e-commerce sales will grow by 18.9% once the coronavirus pandemic subsides, followed by food and beverage (18.1%) and healthcare, beauty and personal care (16.1%).
In its “State of the Connected Customer” report, Salesforce determined that “as disruptive companies leverage breakthroughs in cloud, mobile, social, and artificial intelligence technology to deliver personalized, valuable, and immediate experiences, customers have more choices than ever. As a result, they grow to expect this superior experience from any business they engage with.”
During the outbreak, 88% of the customers surveyed believed that companies across sectors had to accelerate their digital initiatives. Today, despite the reopening of most businesses, 69% of customers still believe “companies should offer new ways to get existing products and services in the wake of the pandemic, and 54% believe they should offer entirely new products and services.”
The food service industry, one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, is also coming to terms with the reality that delivery will reign as king in a post-COVID society. As Restaurant Hospitality, a trade publication for the industry, explained, “53% of adults say purchasing takeout or delivery food is ‘essential to the way they live,’ and 68% of customers say they are more likely to purchase takeout or delivery food than they were before the pandemic, according to data from the National Restaurant Association’s State of the Industry report released in January.”
The overwhelming conclusion business leaders must confront, regardless of their industry or customer base, is this: people want services delivered to them on their schedule. And yes, this will include health and dental care.
Patients Want a Postmates and Amazon Equivalent for Care
According to 2019 Health Center Program Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 43% of health centers were capable of providing telemedicine, compared with 95% of the health centers that reported using telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic. Surprisingly, telehealth remains strong, even though providers have been allowed to resume normal operations: “the percentage of all visits via telemedicine visits is slowly declining from its April peak. But it continues to be well above the prepandemic baseline of very few telemedicine visits.”
Virtual dental care, also known as teledentistry, is no longer a niche service offering. The pandemic may have ushered in widespread adoption, but its growth was gaining traction well before the outbreak of COVID-19. According to surveys conducted by DentaVox in 2019, nearly 80% of U.S. households said they expected to rely on it over the next five years. In some fashion, it’s likely to become a new standard in all of dentistry.
Teledentistry is the remote delivery of dental care, consultation, follow-up care, and education through telecommunications. The idea is as old as the telephone itself. But with advances in video conferencing and online platforms, the systems have become incredibly robust. Video consults connect the patient’s laptop, tablet, or smartphone to a dentist who diagnoses the problem and accelerates treatment options, which may include electronic prescriptions for antibiotics and non-narcotic pain medication. When follow-up care is required, next-day appointments can be booked. There are several advantages.
- Enhances the patient experience when physical visits aren’t possible through personal interaction with a dental provider by phone or video
- Minimizes the risk of exposure to the coronavirus for patients and dental professionals
- Significantly reduces the load on hospital emergency rooms related to dental problems
- Immediate online scheduling, expedited assessments and treatment recommendations, and faster access to a network of available dentists from the comfort of the patient’s home
- Private, secure, and fully compliant with information protection regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
- Video interactions may improve the quality of diagnosis because patients can better describe their conditions using body language, pointing to problem areas, or even showing what’s happening inside their mouths
But digital platforms and teledentistry systems represent only part of this equation. RDH Magazine noted that “as dental practices and health-care organizations increasingly explore ways to include mobile delivery into their current model of care, the mobile dentistry movement continues to gain traction as one of the most popular up-and-coming trends within the profession.”
Breakthroughs in portable equipment — such as x-ray units, treatment carts, and compressors — have advanced the practice and patient interest. However, most mobile dentistry remains relegated to those with special needs: the geriatric, those with physical or mental challenges, the permanently homebound, and others.
But if the current consumer trends persist, more and more people will begin to demand the same solutions from health providers as they do from e-commerce sites and delivery services. So, they will expect an offering that combines teledentistry with a mobile component. This is precisely the intersection of needs that Dentists on Demand occupies.
Dentists on Demand
Dentists on Demand (DOD) has pioneered a solution, powered by its proprietary CUSPID teledentistry portal, that delivers oral care right to a company’s office. Utilizing a conference room or unoccupied space, DOD sets up a portable dental unit to treat employees on site. No missed work hours, no unexpected absenteeism, no reason for employees to ignore dental needs until they become emergencies.
DOD teams also rely on hospital-grade sterilization techniques that include enhanced PPE and air purifiers with HEPA filters and germicidal UV-C lights.
The service includes setup, breakdown, and access to the CUSPID technology platform. Employees manage everything from booking appointments to accessing their own patient records. And preventative services are covered at 100%. DOD works with all PPO plans.
To learn more about DOD, visit our site.