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Inside Dentistry
April 2021
Volume 17, Issue 4

Partner Dentists Are Increasing Their Profits With SmileDirectClub

Network expands teledentistry options for patients, provides turnkey revenue stream for practices

During the past year, teledentistry became more widely utilized and accepted, and one of the latest innovations in this burgeoning field involves making clear aligner treatment more accessible than ever for dentists and patients around the country. Teledentistry pioneer SmileDirectClub has introduced its Partner Network to help dentists increase their patient bases, grow their practices, and build the lifetime value of their patients by giving them the option to begin SmileDirectClub clear aligner therapy direct from the chair.

"The Partner Network is SmileDirectClub's way for clinicians to offer affordable, convenient, high-quality aligner therapy to their patients through a hybrid approach that offers the best of both worlds," says Riddhi Gangolli, BDS, PhD, SmileDirectClub's senior director of professional education and marketing. "The combination of SmileDirectClub's well-established telehealth expertise and dentists' in-office expertise allows our partner doctors to deliver treatment that is more effective and convenient for both the dentist and the patient."

In this approach, Partner Network dentists capture a 3D image or an impression of the patient's teeth and send it to SmileDirectClub, where one of more than 250 state-licensed dentists and orthodontists prescribes a treatment plan and sends it directly to the patient for review. Once the treatment is accepted, aligners are manufactured at SmileDirectClub's 3D printing facility-one of the largest in the United States-and shipped directly to the patient. The patient's treating doctor directs and monitors clear aligner therapy via SmileDirectClub's teledentistry platform from beginning to end, and as an added bonus, the patient has 24/7 access to the company's customer care and dental care teams through the platform. When the treatment is complete, patients are advised to visit the Partner Network dentist for hygiene appointments.

"The system is designed with general practitioners in mind-to add revenue to their practices, unlock growth potential, and fit seamlessly alongside any of their other offerings," Gangolli says. "The model is plug-and-play with no hidden costs, laboratory fees, or lengthy trainings. We take care of all of the administrative elements along the aligner journey."

Those administrative elements include the handling of financing plans, insurance, customer support, and more. Patients can also schedule their appointments through SmileDirectClub's application, which integrates with practice management software systems already in place. "Especially during the challenges of the pandemic," Gangolli says, "this administrative assistance can help doctors and their staff focus on what matters most: providing top quality oral care."

The patient benefits as well. Gangolli notes that SmileDirectClub observed significant demand for an option to start in a dentist's chair in addition to doctor-prescribed remote impression kits or SmileShops. Plus, the Partner Network can help create a new dental home for SmileDirectClub customers who are in need of in-person treatment prior to beginning aligner therapy. "As our customers' needs evolve, we continue to meet them where they want to be met," she says.

While eliminating barriers to clear aligner therapy for both dentists and patients, SmileDirectClub also helps drive business to practices. The company's brand awareness and net promoter score are among the highest in the dental industry. "We want to bring that marketing expertise to Partner Network dentists as well," Gangolli says. "Our partners are seeing more patients walk through their doors who never would have considered orthodontic care previously due to barriers such as cost or convenience, and many of their existing patients are finding aligners to be more affordable than they thought."

In the era of COVID-19, patients and dentists alike have sought out more teledentistry options, and SmileDirectClub has found itself uniquely positioned to answer those calls. "The pandemic has proven out the agility, flexibility, and resilience of our business model," Gangolli says. "The industry is moving in this direction at an even faster pace than before, and we're thrilled to bring this innovation to our Partner Network and further expand access to premium oral care."

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