Title: Clinician experience of virtual consultation within a dental hospital setting during the covid-19 pandemic: A cross-sectional observational study
The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating implications for the UK dental profession. As a result of the mode of transmission of coronavirus, clinical dentistry has had to rapidly evolve and there have been drastic changes to the way in which UK dental professionals operate. Following complete cessation of elective dental treatment initially, there has been a gradual phased return towards normal services.
However, the capacity for face-face patient appointments still remains limited due to factors such as unsuitable operating environments and the consideration of fallow time following aerosol-generating procedures (AGPs). Safety changes have included minimizing the number of patients and chaperones circulating through dental hospitals and ensuring compliance with social distancing regulations. Consequently, a large number of face-face appointments have been reassigned to virtual or remote (such as videoconferencing or telephone) consultations. This shift in practice comprises part of a national effort to safeguard public health during the pandemic. It is however vital that despite these changed practices, clinicians can continue to provide evidence-based, good quality care and balance safeguarding with the risks of delayed and/or misdiagnosis of oral diseases.
A systematic literature review was undertaken on the use of virtual consultations within dentistry. The study sought to investigate if virtual consultation platforms are thought to be fit-for-purpose when undertaking oral assessments during the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants were recruited via email invitation. A questionnaire was designed, piloted and distributed to 80 dental clinicians within a specialist secondary care dental setting. Data collection is currently underway and will be analysed using SPSS software and simple descriptive statistics