Questions to Ask Before Offering Teledentistry Services

Over the past several months, social distancing and remote work have become the new normal for most Americans. For dental practice owners, implementing telehealth options to continue operations is in many cases a necessity in order to comply with both federal and state recommendations.

If your practice hasn’t already done so, consider getting your team and patients on board with a telehealth program. Not only does it mean that you can still offer your services, but your patients will also feel appreciated and thought of during this uncertain time.

However, there are some things you need to consider before turning your practice into a telehealth operation. This post will go over just a few of these factors.


The nature of dental work is that many visits are due to emergent scenarios like cavities or an infected tooth. Other patients may only see you twice a year for their checkups. This can make determining standard hours of operations difficult under “normal” circumstances, but remote services add more stress to the issue.

Here are some questions you need to consider regarding hours of operation in a telehealth-based world. By reviewing these and other factors, you can be more prepared for the changes that telehealth services bring.

• Do you want to set aside certain hours for emergency vs regular visits?
• Will telehealth services only be for non-emergent clients? How does this relate to cleanings?
• If your in-person support team are necessary for your business operations, how do their positions fit into telehealth practices? Is there room for them to work remotely if possible?


There are many different platforms available for telehealth programs. However, an important thing to note is that not all of the popular options (Skype, Facetime) offer HIPAA Compliant regulations for their video conference services. Platforms that provide HIPAA compliant protected teledentistry services include Cisco, GoToMeeting and Zoom. Since the privacy, protection, and security of your clients is of vital importance, this is an important aspect to keep in mind. It is also likely that some training for telehealth platforms may be needed for both staff and patients, so preparation in this area can be very helpful for all involved. For example, consider training and designating one staff member to be the “go-to” person for all things related to the technical side of telehealth services.


Much of the administrative aspect of running an efficient dental practice relates to the proper use, storage, and disposal of patient-sensitive paperwork. When it comes to preparing your office for telehealth services, make sure to go through these questions about paperwork to ensure as seamless a transition as possible.

• Do you offer your patients a disclosure form to receive teledentistry services?
• How do you plan to store paperwork from telehealth visits for record purposes?
• What systems do you have in place to properly secure paperwork if moving them from one program to another?


Want to implement teledentistry options during this time of uncertainty but aren’t sure where to start? Dr. Coughlin is here to guide, support and encourage you now and in the future to grow and sustain a dental practice that goes above and beyond. Call us today!

Podcast: Excellence in Dentistry 2017 Conference highlights

Hello and welcome to Ascent Dental Radio. A program dedicated to the balance between the clinical aspect of health care and the business of health care. And now here is your host, Dr. Kevin Coughlin.

Kevin: Good evening. This is Dr. Kevin Coughlin. You’re listening to Ascent Dental Solutions. This podcast is brought to you with the expertise and production management of Mr. Doug Foresta. His company, Stand Out and Be Heard, is responsible for the 50 or so podcasts that you’ve been listening to over the last year. Without his expertise and his training and background, none of this would be available.

Today, we have a specific topic. A little self-promotion, you might say. My name is Dr. Kevin Coughlin. I’m the creator of Ascent-Dental-Solutions, where the focus is on training, coaching, education and consultation. Today’s topic is about an upcoming continuing education event located in Destin, Florida, which is on the gulf coast.

I have a little backdrop to this particular story. Many years ago, a Dr. Woody Oakes contacted me almost on a cold call and said that he had read one of my books and was interested in some of my thoughts. From that conversation, we generated a friendship and he asked if I would participate in a radio show. He interviewed me for several hours and produced radio shows about my dental career, my background and my business acumen.

From that, he introduced me to a Mr. Steve Parker. And the combination of the Profitable Dentist and Excellence in Dentistry, I was introduced and asked to do some speaking and some training, some coaching and some education. I’m happy to say I’ve been pleased with their organization and I believe their organization has been pleased with me.

Coming in April, to be exact, 26th, 27th, 28th and 29th, will be the annual Destin, Florida Excellence in Dentistry Seminar, Meeting and Education. I hope for those that are available you’ll attend. We typically expect between 400 and 750 doctors and staff members from all over the country and actually, all over the world, to listen to presenters, educators, teachers, lecturers on a vast variety of subjects that relate to dental care today in the 21st century. Doug, do you have any questions?

Doug: I do. Thank you so much, Dr. Coughlin. One of the things that I was wondering about is first of all, I believe you’re speaking on Processes and Procedures to Improve Profitability. Is that correct?

Kevin:         Yes. I have a variety of different topics, but this particular presentation will be on Processes and Procedures to Improve Profitability. Basically, as most dentists and most people in health care in general feel the pressure, the strain of trying to meet excessively high overhead and significant reduction in fees and reimbursements, the profession, in my opinion, is forced and not necessarily in a negative way, to be more effective, to be more efficient.

And it’s incumbent upon us as a profession and as individuals of being small business owners to take a look at all of your processes and all of your procedures and how can we get rid of the fat. How can we make our procedures more profitable by being more efficient and more conscious of the bottom line?

I’m expecting to get, in my opinion, a very nice review from these particular processes and procedures which I’ve developed over 35 years and helped me develop my 14 practices here in Massachusetts. Keep in mind that I am a practicing dentist. I do practice full time. So I just don’t go out and lecture. Every day, today included, I worked almost all day long doing the things that most people in health care have to deal with. And that’s providing a high level of service, a high level of care. But being small business men and women, we also have to be conscious of our overhead and ways in which we can develop and provide better care and better service.

Doug: Dr. Coughlin, you mentioned and yes, you are a working dentist, and one of the things you mentioned was you said you’re cutting the fat. Can you give an example of things that you see that dentists do in their practice that cut into that profitability?

Kevin: That question we could spend the next couple of months on, but to summarize in this podcast, in most cases, my personal belief is that we as health care providers are not necessarily prepared to be as efficient as possible. I strongly recommend what I call a chichi. Some people call it a morning hurdle. But basically, it’s a review of all the scheduled patients so we know exactly what we’re expected to do, we know exactly how much time we anticipate to do it and our operatories are set up for those processes and procedures to provide care in the most efficient and effective manner.

The next thing that I see that I believe really affects profitability is the operatories or the areas in where we practice health care and dentistry in particular, they’re generally not set up to be efficient and effective. I cannot emphasize having cassettes available and those cassettes should be organized for restorative dentistry, separate cassettes for amalgams, separate cassettes for composites, separate cassettes for oral maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, endodontics, periodontics and pathology.

If you don’t have the cassettes with the proper instrumentation and a staff that’s trained to provide this care and service in an effective and efficient way, you’re probably losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

The ability to change from one particular treatment to another — in the dental sense, we begin to do a root canal and for a variety of reasons, the root canal may be failing and it may not be a successful treatment. To change gears within one to two minutes and make that a surgical extraction and then turn that into bone grafting and surgical placement of an implant really provides an enormous way for your patient base to receive not only excellent care, but efficient and effective care. So many times we consider doing things quickly and fast as being done cheaply or not as well or as effective.

I honestly think that our patient base is so busy and they have so many time constrictions that the more efficient and effective we can provide their care and treatment, the better they will like us, the more responsive they will be to our care and service, and the more likely they’ll be willing to keep their appointments. Those are just a few of the comments.

Doug, what I wanted to spend a few minutes with is to sort of just give the audience some of the speakers that you can expect to hear in Destin, Florida on April 27th, 28, 29th, 2017.

Doug:    There are some really great topics I was looking through that.

Kevin:  Oh yeah. The topics in this particular continuing education forum is varied. There’s practice management and there’s clinical. We have Gary Kadi who is talking about where are you taking your practice. Do you know the direction? Do you know what you want to accomplish in your dental practice? And it seems like an obvious question, but many times we’re not prepared to answer it. We just go in, work, do what we’re supposed to do and we really don’t have a clear cut direction.

We then have Dr. Mike Abernathy and his topic is how do you become that super specialist. You’re a general dentist, but in order to meet overhead, in order to stay engaged and excited about your profession, you have to introduce specialty into your care and treatment in my personal opinion. Obviously, others would disagree, but I think to be able to offer surgical implantology, prosthetic implantology, bend and bracket orthodontics, fixed and removable functional appliances, MTM which is Minor Tooth Movement orthodontics, Invisalign orthodontics, endodontics with rotary instruments, same day root canal procedures and treatments, CEREC restorations where crowns, bridges and veneers can all be constructed, designed and inserted in one visit, bone grafting procedures from extractions. The ability to have in-house laboratories to perform immediate prosthesis or full and partial dentures within a day or two days.

This offers an enormous amount of care and service to your patient base. Not only does it provide a better bottom line, but to me, more importantly, you’re offering your patients your most significant asset, a way to receive care and treatment in an efficient, effective manner.

Just take, for example, you went to a restaurant and you decided to order steak and they say, “Well, we don’t serve steak here, we only serve chicken.” And then you went to the chicken restaurant and they said, “We only serve chicken, not steak.” And then you decided that you wanted dessert, but they don’t offer dessert, you have to go to another restaurant.

Today, time, money, effectiveness is so critical that most people have double incomes. They have children, they have events, they have a busy schedule, offices and corporations are reducing time off for medical and health care and to be able to provide treatment in a very efficient, effective manner is an enormous service that you’re providing to your patient base. And I also believe as a subliminal advantage, your staff and team members will appreciate the excitement of being able to offer a variety of procedures and processes to your patient base.

We have other speakers too, Doug. We have Dennis Urban, a certified dental technician. Those of us that practice health care and in particular, dentistry know if you don’t have good laboratory support, you don’t have conscientious laboratory technicians and you’re not communicating well with them on a day to day basis, you’re having remakes, you’re wasting money and time and your products and services are suffering.

I cannot emphasize the importance of listening to Dennis Urban and how he expects to be communicated with and his tips to improve that communication. As many of you know listening to the 60 or so podcasts, I was a dental technician before I was a dentist and my heart goes out to these men and women in this profession. They really are artists and they’re experts in what they do.

We also have some dental hygienists. Wendy Briggs will be speaking about the five steps to increasing case acceptance. I think those of us who practice health care in the field of dentistry know that most of the care and service is going to come from your support members and your team members.

And it’s critical that your dental hygiene team and you as the practicing dentist be on the same page so you’re conveying the same message to Mr. and Mrs. Smith. And that message is clear, it’s concise, the finances are in order so that the treatment acceptance goes up not from five to ten percent, but to 75 and 85 percent.

We also have other speakers. We have Dr. Daniel Haghighi who’s going to talk about 3D Positioning of Dental Implants. I think those of us placing implants, myself since 1983, the ability to virtually place an implant reduces failure, increases speed and efficiency, and most importantly, provides a higher level of care.

We also have Dr. Thomas Nabors who will be speaking about why traditional hygiene programs in a typical dental office is no longer considered the standard of care. You have to look for better ways and more efficient ways to use your hygiene department.

We also have Mary Govoni who will be speaking as a registered dental hygienist and certified dental assistant and also has Master’s in Business Administration. Basically, her message is how do we work all day and go home feeling good and rested?

On top of that, we have Dr. Nathan Dallas who will be talking about how to improve the root canal or endodontic success in your practice by reducing time, increasing efficiency and improving the end results.

We also have Dr. Avi Weisfogel who will be talking about sleep apnea, obstructive sleep appliances, the advantages of these appliances over CPAP, how you can use combined therapy with obstructive sleep apnea appliances along with the conventional CPAP units. I think you’ll find his topics enlightening and I think it’s critical that all dental health care providers are knowledgeable in instructing their patients and staff in sleep apnea appliances and the advantages of those appliances.

We also have Mr. Charles Loretto, who is an expert in finance, business and helping dentists transition their practice to an associate or to some kind of DSO or MSO.

We also have several other lecturers such as Christine Taxin who will be working with insurances and explaining to the dental office and their staff members the quagmire of issues that dental insurances and medical insurances present to small and large dental offices.

I’m excited about the program, I’m promoting the program. I think it will be a benefit to those who can attend. We’ll be closing out the program with attorney Ali Oromchian, who is an attorney, and will speak to us about what all health care professionals just shriek about, and that is defensive medicine. What we need to do to prevent ourselves from getting in trouble. Not to save us money, but to provide a higher level of care and service and do it in the most efficient and effective way.

There’s an excellent program out there. My name is Dr. Kevin Coughlin. I am owner and producer of Ascent Dental Radio. In closing, I want to give my thanks to Mr. Doug Foresta. Without his expertise in podcasting, none of this would be available.

I know today’s podcast seemed more like a sales pitch for Excellence in Dentistry and The Profitable Dentist, but I believe your attendance or your ability to review it on CDs or video stream may be to your advantage. It’s an expensive way to get some significant continuing education in a vast array of subjects. I hope to see you in Destin, Florida on April 26th, 27th and 28th and I look forward to our next podcast.

Thanks for listening. My name is Dr. Kevin Coughlin. You’re listening to Ascent Dental Radio.

My spring break: going to ‘Excellent’ and talking profitabilty

Even dentists need a spring break. But I’m going to be working during mine!

It’s a good kind of work though: I’ll be talking at the Excellence In Dentistry Spring Break Seminar taking place April 27 to 29 in Destin, Florida.

Even better I’ll be speaking about one of my favorite topics: Process and Procedures to Improve Profitability.

When it comes to building a more profitable dental practice, cutting corners is a short-sighted strategy. Better to invest in processes and procedures that drive the growth of your practice.

Over the course of my 90-minute talk, I’ll outline how I did exactly that in my 14 practices and outline the simple but crucial changes you can implement to make your practice S.P.E.C.I.A.L.

These include:

S scheduling tips that make a big difference to profitability by increasing efficiency.

P production improvements to provide better care and service to patients.

E employee or team member management that drives everyone to want to deliver better results and perform at higher levels.

C collections improvements that will show you how to reach a 98% success rate.

I internal controls to help you manage your practice

A Associates and accounts receivables as a tool for growth

L liability and asset management to protect yourself and your business

So please join me on April 27th at 1:30pm at Destin for my talk and make certain to reach out to talk while there or in advance about how to improve your practice.

See you there!

Finding Excellence in Dentistry

Dental-consultant-Kevin-CoughlinMuch of my professional life these days involves working with dental practices on how to deliver superior customer service while increasing profits.

It’s engaging and invigorating work. But It’s good to recharge the batteries and meet with my professional contemporaries in an environment where my core message can reach many people at once.

The Excellence In Dentistry conference taking place April 27-29 in Destin, Florida is an excellent example. It’s a way for dental professionals of all stripes to make presentations on their areas of expertise. For my part, I’ll be speaking on Practical Systems For Same Day Dentistry at the conference.

Others will delve into a wide range of topics including:

  • ​Sleep Apnea
  • Oral Surgery
  • Removables
  • Overhead Control
  • ​Hygiene/Productivity
  • ​Implants
  • Marketing
  • PPO Negotiations
  • Back Pain/Neck Relief
  • Staff Mgmt/Hiring
  • ​Endo
  • Hygiene/Perio
  • Practice Management
  • ​Efficiency
  • ​Financial Planning

As a dental speaker, it’s an honor to have my experience and successes showcased to others in the profession who might be struggling with where to take their practices in this increasingly competitive landscape.

In any business, it’s easy to get stuck in your own systematic method of addressing problems. Pulling on different levels of expertise from across the country can shake the figurative cobwebs and open eyes to new ways of doing things. So the best part about this conference, for me, will be the opportunities I get to discuss issues in the dental industry with contemporaries with a wide variety of viewpoints.

If you haven’t already registered I encourage you to do so by clicking here.