SmileDirectClub (SDC) is becoming a major player in the clear aligner industry, particularly with its new partnership with Walgreens. It was announced in April that CVS is adding SmileDirectClub services to “hundreds of its locations.” Granted, that’s a small percentage of the CVS stores in the country, but plans are to expand the new service to more than 1,000 CVS locations. That’s roughly 1 in 10 stores nationwide.
However, everything isn’t going SDC’s way. A recent ruling by a Georgia court foreshadows pushback against SDC’s model of having non-clinical personnel perform digital scans for the fabrication of clear aligners.
In its ruling the court wrote that “taking digital scans of a patient’s mouth for the purpose of having a dentist or orthodontist approve of a treatment plan for correcting a malposition of the patient’s teeth falls squarely within the definition of the practice of dentistry as set forth” in state regulations.
The ruling is a major win for the Georgia Board of Dentistry whose position in the case was supported by the American Association of Orthodontists.
The Broader Implications
If your practice doesn’t offer clear aligners, this news is pretty much irrelevant to your bottom line… except for one thing. SDC’s push to have non-clinical personnel fill clinical roles is a slap in the face of dentistry in general.
Dentists and dental personnel are rightfully proud of their education, their training, and the quality of the services they provide. No reputable dental practice would permit its receptionist to perform an assessment, and few patients would tolerate it. It’s akin to facing surgery and having your pre-op meds administered by a coding clerk.
Any effort to demean or decrease the professionalism of dentistry is a challenge that should not be ignored.
It seems likely that SDC’s efforts will be met on a state-by-state basis. You shouldn’t wait for that, though; there’s no guarantee that the laws in your state governing dental practice will serve as a deterrent.
Instead, act now to promote the professionalism of your practice and the benefits of your professionalism to patients. That doesn’t mean to endlessly list post-doc training courses and CE credits. It does mean that your patients and prospects need to understand that you and your staff are very well trained, completely professional, and always make the patient’s welfare and wellbeing your highest priority.
Have a look at your website. Does it emphasize the benefits to your patients of choosing your practice, or does it suffer from the “we-we” problem?
“We do this” or “We have this technology” or “We complete X number of hours of continuing education.”
Your prospects don’t care! They do care about whether you and your staff know what you’re doing, that they’ll be taken care of, that their fears will be addressed, that they’ll be listened to, and that you’ll solve their dental problems in a way they’ll really like.
That is what your website, blog, and social media should convey to prospects. It’s also the takeaway that every patient in your practice should leave with. But it’s a big “ask” for a busy dental practice to retool its marketing while still seeing a heavy schedule of patients.
Here’s a suggestion: talk with SmartBox. We provide professional writing services – for your website, blog, and social media – as part of our comprehensive, strategic dental marketing and practice growth services.
SmileDirectClub and other corporate entities are coming, and smart dentists will take steps now to ensure that their bottom lines won’t be impacted.