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California passes law strengthening teledentistry requirements

October 17, 2019

By Mary Beth Versaci

American Dental Association President Chad P. Gehani on Oct. 15 commended the California Dental Association for being instrumental in passing a law that offers protections for patients using teledentistry.

“This is a very positive development for teledentistry, which the ADA supports as a technology that will increase access to care for the public,” Dr. Gehani said. “The law requires parity of teledentistry platforms with the quality of care provided to patients in their dentists’ offices.”

The law includes these specific patient protection requirements:
 
• Providing the treating dentist’s name, license number and dental board contact information.

• Review of a patient’s most recent radiographs prior to beginning orthodontic treatment.

• A patient examination, including completion of a medical and dental history, diagnosis and treatment plan.

• Recourse for the patient to report to the dental board incidents of treatment that fall below the standard of care, even if the patient has signed an arbitration clause or nondisclosure agreement.

“Parity in the quality of care provided to patients regardless of how dental services are delivered also includes documented, ongoing review of treatment progress so any necessary modifications to it can be made,” Dr. Gehani said.

The law will take effect Jan. 1, 2020.

“With emerging business models offering various dental services outside of a dental office’s four walls, including companies that provide direct-to-consumer orthodontic services, it is imperative that dental treatment continues to meet the standards of care,” the California Dental Association stated in an Oct. 14 news release. “[The law] ensures that telehealth advancements continue to develop in a thoughtful way that puts patient safety first and is as effective as in-person treatment.”

In a media statement posted on ADA.org, the ADA notes a number of states have passed or are in the process of passing legislation that promotes parity in the standard of care for teledentistry with in-office care:

• Massachusetts has several bills pending related to telemedicine, including bills that would define and outline the practices and protocols for health care providers including an “oral health provider.”

• Laws in Arizona, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota and Tennessee require that the delivery of teledentistry services be consistent with in-person delivery of care or that the teledental services comply with the scope of practice laws in the state.

• Statutes in Arizona, Ohio and Tennessee establish protection and security of patients’ private health information.

The statement also explains that a national policy on teledentistry, which the ADA House of Delegates adopted in 2015, addresses patients’ rights, quality of care, licensure requirements and supervision of dental personnel.