Teledentistry a pioneering move for Dugoni
On Oct. 2014, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that would extend Medi-Cal coverage to include dental service provided through the internet. This concept is known as teledentistry. The American Dental Association reports, “Teledentistry, a component of telehealth, is the electronic exchange of dental patient information from one geographic location to another for interpretation and/or consultation among authorized healthcare professions. Teledentistry utilizes both information and communication technologies and includes the electronic exchange of diagnostic image files, including radiographics, photographs, video, optical impressions and photomicrographs of patients.”
This bill took effect Jan. 1 of this year and now allows hygienists and certain dental assistants to perform an expanded amount of procedures without the supervision of a dentist. These hygienists and dental assistants would first have to complete an approved training program. After, they would be allowed to determine what X-rays are required or provide special types of temporary fillings.
In conjunction with the bill, the Pacific Center for Special Care at the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry developed a Virtual Dental Home system. The VDH system has already been implemented in California, most recently at the Kingsley Manor retirement community made possible by a three-year, $275,000 grant from California Wellness Foundation. The VDH system seeks to remove barriers to routine and preventative dental services by using telehealth technology to link dental hygienists and assistants with dentists in offices and clinics.
The goal of the bill aligns with the missions of the Pacific Center for Special Care of advocating and improving dental healthcare access to those who face challenges obtaining care through traditional methods. This includes people in underserved communities to older or disabled adults.
The Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry has announced its plans to incorporate teledentistry into its dental and dental hygiene education programs, being the first dental school in the nation to do so. Pacific’s eagerness to embrace teledentistry is a positive move for the dentistry school and all three campuses as a whole. Being a pioneer in the field of teledentistry not only helps Dugoni stay competitive as a top dental school in the nation, but also helps Pacific take the right steps toward being on the edge of new and innovative healthcare solutions.
Pacific has consistently been an advocate of multidisciplinary learning and higher education. In June, the Sacramento McGeorge School of Law campus was joined by new graduate programs, offering five new degrees: Master of Business Administration, Doctor of Education, Master of Public Policy, Master of Physician Assistant Studies and Master of Public Administration. These steps show Pacific’s willingness and enthusiasm to embrace change and stay relevant and competitive as a higher education provider.
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