We're out to improve public health outcomes by increasing access to high-quality dental care, using the promise of technology to remove barriers impeding access to it.
It all started with a casual conversation between two dental industry veterans, and turned into exploring how the IoT could improve public health in general and dental care in particular.
We're a company designed to do good and be good, with a vision to use technology to expand access to critical dental care for previously underserved populations - helping everyone.
Over 30% of the US population cannot access dental care, due to lack of affordability or physical inaccessibility. The reason is simple enough: In the current delivery model, delivering dental care is expensive, and the current revenue model – mostly Medicaid - doesn’t adequately account for the cost of delivery.
While killing time in a coffee shop in Portland before a business meeting, Richard Lee and Bill Jackson were talking about how the emerging concept of the Internet of Things (IoT) would affect dentistry. The discussion led to addressing the dental industry’s biggest challenge.
Over 30% of the US population cannot access dental care, due to lack of affordability or physical inaccessibility. The reason is simple enough: In the current delivery model, delivering dental care is expensive, and the current revenue model – mostly Medicaid – doesn’t adequately account for the cost of delivery.
We certainly knew the complexity of the problem and the significant efforts that have been spent on unsuccessfully trying to solve it. Yet, the problem continues to grow, affecting the health of over 100 million Americans.
But, we also knew that all the solutions were likely using a business model of dental care delivery that hasn’t changed much since the 1990s – a delivery system where cost inefficiencies are rampant, and generally, never focused on the needs of the underserved. Perhaps, the solution required a new model specifically focused on the needs of the target audience.
Intuitively, we felt that a new for-profit delivery system incorporating IoT could provide an answer. We also knew that it was going to take entrepreneurial individuals with deep experience in the dental industry, dental technology, internet technology, multi-location dental practice management, revenue cycle management, insurance financing, and individuals with a broad access to the industry’s most influential players. In other words, we knew that we needed to take on the challenge.
We recognized that the solution needed to be, in part, mobile. So, we began investigating the mobile clinic sector, and, because of our working relationship with Dr. Paul Glassman at the Arthur Dugoni School of dentistry, we looked at teledentistry.
We quickly realized that teledentistry – specially trained hygienists visiting community centers and working with remote dentists – was the best solution for the underserved population. We also quickly realized that applying the 1990s model of dental office management to teledentistry was not going to work. Traditional practice management software made scaling of a teledentistry practice impossible, and the traditional business model added too much administrative expense for low Medicaid reimbursement.
We dissected every aspect of the financial model with a view toward using IoT to cut out every unnecessary expense. Is there a better way to handle patient appointment scheduling? Is there a better way to handle hygienist schedules? Facilitate communications among dentists, hygienists, dental assistants, and location administrators without hiring additional staff? More easily acquire treatment locations? Work out equipment logistics, so that equipment could be efficiently shared among multiple hygienists? Share all management tasks across a network of teledentistry practices?
The IoT solutions that we devised required new technology and new management systems. Virtual Dental Care was created to offer the technology and management services required to make teledentistry feasible.
Virtual Dental Care is a socially responsible for-profit company. Our investors, while expecting an excellent return, are socially responsible investors. And, our employees, while expecting a great work environment, recognize that the company’s mission is to eliminate a societal problem.