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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: February 17, 2021 10:19 AM
From: Representative Dan Frankel
To: All House members
Subject: Teledentistry
A 2019 report by the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health (PORH) at Penn State found that inequalities in access to dental care exist between children of higher socioeconomic status and lower economic status. The same report also found geographic inequalities exist with the urban dentist supply rate nearly twice as much as the rural rate, mainly due to the distance between patients and providers and the current financial incentive structure. The dental care gap in both of these areas could be dramatically reduced through the use of teledentistry.

Through virtual connections, a dentist can assess a patient and determine if they require in-person care. This may be done by a dentist assessing a patient’s immediate issue to determine whether the patient needs emergency care, a prescription for antibiotics, or an at-home remedy. Or this could occur by a dental hygienist taking x-rays at an off-site location, such as a school or nursing home, sending the clinical information to the dentist through a secure connection, and then the dentist follows up with a treatment plan. Dentists can also use virtual technology to conveniently educate patients on proper care technique, as well as monitor a patient’s treatment.

Teledentistry would significantly improve access to dental care in underserved areas by eliminating trips for appointments that can be completed virtually, provide greater opportunities to educate patients on the importance of dental care, and make it easier to build a relationship with a dentist and establish a dental home.  My legislation would establish teledentistry in our Commonwealth and require insurance plans to cover this service through negotiated rates by the insurer and the provider. Through flexibilities allowed during the pandemic, we’ve already seen the success of teledentistry.

Please join me in establishing access and coverage for teledentistry in Pennsylvania.