Mobile healthcare is gaining a lot of popularity these days. Having a doctor or dentist come to your home felt a lot safer to some people than going to a crowded office during the pandemic. Just as importantly, mobile dentistry and healthcare services are far more accessible to a lot of people than going to an office.
For people with mobility challenges, inability to drive themselves, or other barriers to accessing in-person healthcare, mobile healthcare is a huge boon.
When it comes to dentistry, where patients often cannot drive themselves and may not want to deal with the hassle of a commute after an uncomfortable procedure, mobile healthcare makes even more sense.
Mobile healthcare might be new, but it’s here to stay. Here’s what you need to know to add mobile healthcare to your practice, and why you should get in this game sooner rather than later.
Mobile dentistry is where the dentist, hygienist, and any other assistants you might need, take dentistry out of the office and bring the necessary equipment and expertise to the patient’s home or office instead of patients coming to them.
Usually, this means getting a large vehicle and setting up an exam room in the back. The goal is mobility and being able to work pretty much anywhere, at least for some procedures.
Typically, a dental van will focus on preventative care, cleanings, sealants, and other preventative procedures rather than acute care, but it is possible to do both. When a dentist is deciding which services to offer in a mobile practice, they need to consider safety as well as the limited space in the back of a dental van.
The last thing you want is to have a procedure where you don’t have the room to work, or to have something go wrong with a medication and not have the equipment or medications you need to handle the situation.
One of the reasons to bring mobile dentistry into your practice is accessibility, as well as boosting your reputation in the community.
Senior centers, homeless shelters, women’s shelters, and service providers aimed at WIC and other safety net programs are all likely to be interested in bringing in a dental van for on-site services. Some places will mostly offer one-off services, while other locations will be interested in bringing you in for regular dental care.
Not only does having mobile dental care make dentistry more accessible, but it can also help reduce the burden on ordinary people seeking care. Dental professionals will stand by the statement that, providing access to preventive care, you can reduce the incidence of severe dental problems, and by making your care more accessible you can access underserved populations.
If you’re concerned about the cost of adding mobile dentistry to your practice, either in equipment or in hiring the additional staff to make it work with your in-office practice, let’s talk about why it can be useful to move ahead with mobile dentistry anyway.
For one thing, mobile dentistry automatically gives you a wide pool of patients, especially if you’re the only dental office offering mobile dentistry in the area.
That wider pool of patients, some of whom are likely to come to your in-person office for future appointments, can help cover a lot of the costs of building a dental van and staffing it.
You can also ramp up more slowly, offering primarily preventive care and only running the dental van a few days a week in the beginning until you have a larger audience for that service.
If you can have staff, especially front office staff, spend some time on outreach to local community and service centers to see if they would be interested in a dental day, which can also help cover some of the startup costs associated with mobile dentistry and get the word out.
Mobile care is also usually more comprehensive than teledental care, even though both are supported as ways to increase your patient pool and improve access to dental services. With mobile care, you can actually see your patient's teeth in person, assess their gum health, and provide a much wider range of services than you could from telehealth services alone.
Consider polling your community before you commit to a mobile dental health practice. Dentists in fairly large communities with a lot of urban sprawl are most likely able to make mobile dental healthcare work, but a 100% mobile practice, or 1x a week mobile practice may work best in rural areas that don’t have much population density.
Most importantly, you need to know who is going to be interested, and how much demand there might be before you can decide how to stock and how to staff a dental van.
Whether you’re polling to gage interest, or ready to start offering mobile dental services, here are some of the places you should call to get the word out:
Don’t be afraid to offer home visits as well, especially if you can schedule more than one family member for the same day. But by starting with community centers, senior homes, and apartments with high population density you’ll be more likely to attract patients, and more likely to get the word out that mobile dentistry is an option in your area. Once you’re ready to get started, make your life even easier by managing your vehicles, equipment and tasks for all of your mobile units and physical office locations by using UptimeHealth!