Dentists, specialty practices turn to technology amid COVID-19 pandemic

As much of the focus remains on health care workers tackling COVID-19, medical professionals of all kinds are still coping with the effects of the virus.

HealthPartners dentist David Louis is helping a patient who had fallen and was worried about the damage she might have done to a couple of teeth. He practices in Eden Prairie and St. Louis Park, though both offices remain quiet as the governor’s order calls for dentists to only see patients for emergency procedures.

In this case, the woman wasn’t sure whether she needed immediate care, so a video consult ended up saving her a potential ER visit. It also kept both her and dental staff from any potential aerosolized disease transmission.

"During this time of social distancing, we still want to provide care for our patients,” Dr. Louis said.

Meanwhile, dermatologists - another hands-on field - are maximizing their use of techology.

“We have all of our staff wearing similar facial masks once-a-day,” said Dr. Jozef Lazar, a dermatologist in St. Paul.

He said that currently, doctors can meet with patients via video appointment, and with the help of high quality cell phone photos of a worrisome skin spot or rash, they can consult, diagnose and even prescribe medication without a face-to-face office visit.

While his practice has used some form of the visual technology for three years, many are just getting comfortable with the idea of staying home for their care.

“It’s new for everybody. Patients aren’t used to interfacing with doctors through these technologies, but they’re so convenient.”