Provide an accurate and complete medical and dental history, this allows the doctor to collect as much information from you prior to your teleconsultation.
One of the consequences of the pandemic is the dramatic growth of Telehealth and Telemedicine. But how can doctors and providers best care for their patients when they are not physically in front of them? What do doctors wish patients knew to make sure they are getting the best results, even though they are not actually in the office? How can Telehealth approximate and even improve upon the healthcare that traditional doctors’ visits can provide?
In this interview series, called “Telehealth Best Practices: How To Best Care For Your Patients When They Are Not Physically In Front Of You,” we are talking to successful doctors, dentists, psychotherapists, counselors, and other medical and wellness professionals who share lessons and stories from their experience about the best practices in Telehealth. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewingDr. Pardeep Brar.
Dr. Pardeep Brar began his career as a pharmacist, and his passion for helping people inspired him to continue his education to become an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Dr. Brar is proud to offer a full scope of oral and maxillofacial surgery procedures for his patients at his practice in Anacortes, WA, where he specializes in dental implants and wisdom teeth removal. With a lifelong love of learning, Dr. Brar is skilled in the most cutting-edge techniques in the oral and maxillofacial surgery field — he is continuously expanding his expertise into additional specialties, such as facial cosmetic treatments like BOTOX® and Juvederm®, to benefit his patients. Dr. Brar tailors each treatment plan so that every patient experiences their very best result.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory and how you got started?
I completed my Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery residency at the University of Washington in 2007, and my family and I moved to Anacortes to take an opportunity to join an established Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (OMS) practice in Anacortes, WA. I purchased the practice in 2011 as the other surgeon retired. Since taking over the practice we have tried incorporating the most current technology to assist our patients in getting the best possible care.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I was never aware of the fear that patients can have when they come to see an oral surgeon. One patient in particular early in my career recommended that all patients need to be sedated when they see an oral surgeon to have a procedure performed. This gentleman could jump out of planes, go deep sea diving, and tour dangerous parts of the world, but he was anxious whenever he went to the dentist’s office. He indicated that he still remembers when he had his wisdom teeth removed and the noise and discomfort of the procedure. He was not sedated for the procedure and he remembers it to this day! He indicated to me that he does not like oral surgery, and he wants sedation for all of his procedures. This was a 65-year-old man who still remembers a procedure he had 40-plus years ago. This made me aware that patients can have fears that last them a lifetime, and no matter how minor or major the procedure will be I need to create a safe and comforting environment for their potential procedure.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson” quote? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“There is no greatness without a passion to be great!” –Tony Robbins
This has been relevant to my life, as I realized in order to become a surgeon and provide great care to my patients that I would need to continue to learn new surgical techniques, provide the most current technology available to my patients, and continue to update the practice.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There are so many people who have helped me get where I am today as a person and as a professional. Firstly, I am incredibly grateful for all the help my parents have provided me to get me to where I am today. They instilled the values of being an honest individual along with teaching me how to have a good work ethic. These values provided me with the tools I needed to succeed. They supported and encouraged me in my choice to pursue a college education and subsequently when I elected to go to dental school. My wife has been my pillar of support and encouragement to achieve my goals since we have been together. Her unrelenting support has allowed me to continue to work to achieve my professional goals. She is an integral part of our practice, and she wants our practice to achieve excellence in everything we do!
Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. The pandemic has changed so many things about the way we behave. One of them of course, is how doctors treat their patients. Many doctors have started treating their patients remotely. Telehealth can of course be very different than working with a patient that is in front of you. This provides great opportunity because it allows more people access to medical professionals, but it can also create unique challenges. To begin, can you articulate for our readers a few of the main benefits of having a patient in front of you?
My patients are usually referred to my office by their dentist or medical doctor. My first interaction with my patients is during our initial visit. It is so important to have a positive first encounter with a patient. Having patients in front of me allows me to develop a connection with them and allows me to gauge if they are nervous or concerned with having treatment performed. I can usually determine this by their body language or their verbal responses to questions I ask them.
On the flip side, can you articulate for our readers a few of the main challenges that arise when a patient is not in the same space as the doctor?
I am unable to perform an examination on my patient, and therefore I am unable to appreciate how a patient may respond when they arrive at our office…particularly patients who are nervous. It can be challenging to determine how nervous they may be about a procedure when they are not physically in front of you since it is very difficult to read their body language on a teleconsultation from the comfort of their home. I have found that patients appear to be quite relaxed when they are in their own environment, but they can end up being quite nervous when they present to my office for the actual procedure.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience, what can one do to address or redress each of those challenges? What are your “5 Things You Need To Know To Best Care For Your Patients When They Are Not Physically In Front Of You ? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Provide an accurate and complete medical and dental history (this allows the doctor to collect as much information from you prior to your teleconsultation).
- Know why you are being referred to our office for treatment and why your dentist/medical doctor is recommending treatment (this allows the consult to be more focused on the problem that the patient is wanting to have addressed).
- View our video on my website so that you can be familiar with us (patients will feel more comfortable when we first interact).
- View our website videos on the treatment being recommended by your dentist/medical doctor so that you can feel well prepared for your teleconsultation (allows the patient to be more prepared to ask questions that they may have).
- Please share your concerns over potential treatment and any anxiety you may have if you need to come to my office for a visit (helps us discuss the various options for anesthesia for our patients so that they are comfortable for their procedure).
Can you share a few ways that Telehealth can create opportunities or benefits that traditional in-office visits cannot provide? Can you please share a story or give an example?
Telehealth allows patients to be evaluated in a very timely manner versus an in-office visit. Often, patients have to coordinate their work schedule, travel schedule, child care schedule, etc., to come to see me in the office. Telehealth provides them with greater flexibility, and I can see patients even when they are physically still at work. For example, I have a patient who has a very busy work schedule and she has to take a ferry to see me. Currently, her position at work is understaffed, and she could not take multiple days off to eventually have treatment rendered. We set her up with a teleconsultation, and she completed this with me during her lunch break so that she didn’t have to miss work. She only needed to take one day off of work to have a procedure rather than taking two days off.
Let’s zoom in a bit. Many tools have been developed to help facilitate Telehealth. In your personal experiences which tools have been most effective in helping to replicate the benefits of being together in the same space?
Using video conferencing and how easy it has become for people to use this tool. Using video conferencing and sharing screens allows me to review their X-rays or CT scans with them. This allows me to replicate the in-office experience with them. The patient also has an opportunity to meet me without a mask.
If you could design the perfect Telehealth feature or system to help your patients, what would it be?
Using virtual reality to have the patient be in our office for their initial consultation so they can feel how it will be when they come to our office for a procedure.
Are there things that you wish patients knew in order to make sure they are getting the best results even though they are not actually in the office?
It is important that patients provide me with as much detail regarding their condition and their concerns about visiting me for a potential procedure. The more information they can provide me in advance, such as an accurate medical history and dental history, allows me the best opportunity to provide them with treatment recommendations.
The technology is rapidly evolving and new tools like VR, AR, and Mixed Reality are being developed to help bring people together in a shared virtual space. Is there any technology coming down the pipeline that excites you?
For me, the most exciting part of dentistry and medicine is the continuing incorporation of technology in my practice. Regenerative technology, digital technology, and imaging are continuing to allow us to provide our patients with treatment that was not possible 10 years ago. We can provide patients with much more predictable results, and utilizing technology to show them the changes that we will accomplish with this treatment is exciting.
Is there a part of this future vision that concerns you? Can you explain?
Yes. Unfortunately, every patient will not be able to experience an ideal result or a result that we plan due to a multiple number of factors (underlying health conditions and anatomy, etc.). Sometimes technology can provide patients with misleading expectations because they would like the results that they were shown from an animated picture/diagram.
Ok wonderful. We are nearly done. Here is our last “meaty” question. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Unfortunately, in my profession, I see many patients who end up being in significant pain or in stages in their lives where dental treatment may not be an option. It is so important to take care of your oral health at an early age in life. Many individuals do not start taking care of their teeth until it is too late because they do not start seeing a dentist until they have developed serious problems. They end up having to suffer with pain and repeated infections. It is important for everyone to have access to dental care so their oral health can be taken care of before it becomes too late.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.