While telehealth was gaining in popularity prior to the Coronavirus crisis, the pandemic has advanced telehealth light years ahead. More insurers than ever are realizing how important this part of healthcare is, and scrambling to properly provide these services to their customers.
One innovator in telehealth is SmileDirectClub, which has been offering teledentistry from its 2014 inception, being the first company to offer teeth straightening through telehealth. The company has now partnered with one of the country’s leading dental insurance providers, MetLife, to offer consumers unparalleled access to teledentistry. The partnership means that coverage for the remote orthodontic care that SmileDirectClub offers conveniently and affordably will now be insured under MetLife’s dental plans for 20 million people.
The partnership was originally announced on November 23, leading to a marked jump in SmileDirectClub’s stock prices. One of the company’s goals is to see growth of 20-30% while continuing profitability. The partnership combined with meeting those goals makes SmileDirectClub a good choice for a stock buy.
The Chief Executive Office of SmileDirectClub, David Katzman, pointed out that this partnership means that SmileDirectClub’s clear aligner treatment is now covered by nearly all major dental insurance providers in the United States. Once the partnership is official early in 2021, Americans who are insured by Aetna, MetLife, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, and UnitedHealthcare, as well as international partners, will all have insured coverage for SmileDirectClub’s clear aligners. This dovetails nicely with SmileDirectClub’s mission to make quality dental and orthodontic care accessible and affordable for all.
Those looking to work with SmileDirectClub through the MetLife partnership have three ways of getting started. They can begin in person with a visit to a SmileDirectClub SmileShop for a 3D scan, or they can have this done at a SmileDirectClub Partner Network affiliated orthodontist or dentist office. People can also opt to undergo the entire SmileDirectClub process at home by using a doctor-prescribed remote impression kit.
SmileDirectClub works with people to help them get started on a convenient form of treatment. After the initial evaluation, treatment is conducted remotely by state-licensed orthodontists and dentists utilizing the innovative platform created by SmileDirectClub.
The expansion of teledentistry extends beyond the partnership between SmileDirectClub and MetLife. The American Dental Association (ADA) recently announced a new policy on teledentistry. In that policy, the ADA specifies that when care is equivalent to what a person would receive in person, then coverage must be provided for at the same rate. As additional insurers work to comply with this policy, there will no doubt be additional coverage for SmileDirectClub services amongst insurers.
The ADA policy lays out the different kinds of teledentistry offered. This includes:
- Synchronous: This live video method provides live two-way interaction between the provider and customer.
- Asynchronous: This method uses recorded medical health information and a secure electronic communication system so that the provider can provide evaluation and services, without using live interaction.
- Remote customer monitoring: Personal health and medical data is collected from an individual in one location and transmitted to the provider in a different location so they can provide care or support.
- Mobile health: Health care and education that uses mobile communication devices like cell phones or tablets.
While this is not an exhaustive list of the kinds of teledentistry possible, it helps to break down the methods into categories so that customers, providers and insurance companies can all better understand what teledentistry is. Additionally, the new policy sets what rights customers have while receiving teledental care.
The trend towards telehealth has been markedly accelerated due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it is also a movement that has been gaining traction for years. By providing remote access to dental services, SmileDirectClub gives access to quality orthodontic care that many would otherwise lack. And while telehealth is more important of a service now than ever, that importance is unlikely to diminish once the coronavirus crisis has ended. Telehealth is the future of medicine and dentistry.
More About SmileDirectClub
SmileDirectClub is based in Nashville, Tennessee and has operations in the United States, Canada, Ireland, United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, Austria, Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia. They have provided services for over one million consumers around the globe. They created the first telehealth platform for dentistry, and have been providing dental services and quality oral care products as part of their mission to give access to affordable and convenient dental and orthodontic care to all.
One of their major products is their premium American made clear aligners. In addition to the standard 22-hour wear clear aligners, SmileDirectClub offers the Nighttime Aligners®. This allows people to have straighter teeth without needing to wear anything during the day time. While traditional aligners are worn for 22 hours per day, the Nighttime Aligners® will provide results when just worn 10 hours per day. It is important to remember that for those seeking faster results, the traditional aligners are preferred.
As innovators of the original teledentistry platform, SmileDirectClub is proud that it continues to offer the most advanced care both in how it is offered and what is offered. In addition to aligners, the SmileDirectClub offers an array of oral care products, including toothbrushes and teeth whitening kits, and continues to be at the forefront of teledentistry, offering quality care affordably and conveniently.