When I grow up I want to be a dentist. Not quite the common profession a young girl would pick, is it? Nevertheless, it is a job description most parents or grandparents would approve of. Why? Well, it is hard to imagine a more noble and respectable profession than that of the medical line. True, there many jobs out of there on par with healthcare, but none can come close to its altruistic trait. The service is selfless, putting another person’s needs before theirs and not to mention enveloped in compassion. On the other hand, business is the antithesis. Yes, there is an element of service but money-making is the ultimate goal. So, let’s talk business and healthcare, in this case dental aligners. Is healthcare now becoming a for-profit business? And how does it affect your choices in getting the best dental treatment?
To Choose Or Not To Choose?
It is impossible to run away from business regardless of any job description. The bracing reality check is that major industries are driven by for-profit businesses. Yes, that includes the ‘altruistic’ healthcare line. We all know that the word ‘business’ has an egocentric connotation which doesn’t quite fit in healthcare. It gives healthcare a bad reputation, doesn’t it? But let’s face the truth, they actually go hand in hand, albeit behind closed doors. You don’t really notice it, but one of the prime examples of business and healthcare is the use of pharmaceutical products. Such affiliation does reap plenty of profit but at what point do we say it has overstep the ethical boundaries?
When we talk about dental aligners, we know more about the companies advertising its use than the advice from our dentist. Here is where we see the role of branding and business modalities play out. In the world of aligners marketing, there are now three marketing modalities; business to business (B2B), business to business to consumers (B2B2C) and business to consumers (B2C). So what exactly are these marketing modalities and how do they work? How do we choose one over the other?
Business To Business (B2B)
This needs no introduction. It is the one modality that we are familiar with and trust the most. Think of it as a business model whereby the product from the dental company reaches the consumer through an intermediary. In this case, the intermediary is the doctor and the consumer is the target audience. So what are its pros and cons? Looking back at the Dirty Secret article, the benefits don’t need much elaboration as we now know of some repercussions for bypassing the dentist. The disadvantages, of course, would be the price-tag and routine follow-ups which can be off-putting. But, at the end of the day, this is one package that guarantees continuous monitoring by the same dentist from start to end.
Business To Business To Consumers (B2B2C)
This is still a grey area. If B2B only involves aligners companies dealing directly with dentists, then this model has a rather dynamic approach. It is a fluid concept in the sense that aligners companies, dentists and consumers are all linked and the end-target is interchangeable. Lost track? Here’s to exemplify: A (aligners company) pitches their product to B (dentist) for B to recommend and treat C (patients) with the product. But, at the same time, A could also directly market their product to C to help B gain traction and clients.
So why it is a grey area still? While the role of B as a treating dentist should be clear to everyone, some companies don’t actually reveal their “Board Of Licensed Dentists”. What is even more confusing is while the initial scans and impressions are taken by a another designated dentist, the monitoring is done by this “board of dentists” whose identity is ambiguous. Think of it this way: on one hand you have a tangible treating dentist whose role is to scan and perhaps write a prescription for the patient and on the other hand, an elusive “board of dentists” whose task is to monitor and even write prescriptions for patients. Talk about 50 shades of grey!
So you might be wondering how does the monitoring take place? Well is it as simple as ABC, you just upload self-taken pictures of your teeth according to specifications on an app and voilà , this “board of dentists” will determine the best treatment outcome for you. Now comes the question, in the event if something did actually go wrong, who would be held responsible for it? This “board of dentists” or the doctor who merely did the initial scans and wrote the prescriptions?
Business To Consumers (B2C)
This is pretty straightforward. All the intermediate parties are eliminated and the sole target audience is us, the consumers. It is of no wonder as to why some aligners are about a third of the cost of traditional braces or aligners from B2B modality. Without doubt, the B2C model must have some advantages for it to be up and running in the first place. Indeed, it is beneficial for those with simple misaligned teeth looking for a fix at an affordable rate. Companies like SmileDirectClub in the USA has helped over 750,000 people with their dental problems. So what is the difference between B2C and B2B2C?
Again, this is where the grey area comes into play. B2C deals directly with consumers online while the B2B2C involves interaction both online and offline with the dentist. Basically, the online concept utilised here is Tele-Dentistry whereby patients upload digital images of their teeth online and the dentist oversees the treatment from afar. The combination of online and offline is when patients actually meet the dentist for their initial scans, but subsequent monitoring is done online by a “board of dentists”.
Other than being affordable, what are its pull factors? Now, there are many success stories out there with clients expressing life-changing moments. We cannot deny its benefits but, at the same time, caution should be observed. Recently, the SmileDirectClub came under fire when doctors who prescribe its aligners are not required to conduct oral examinations on their patients. The increase in complaints and negative outcomes from the treatments resulted in the state of California mandating practitioners to review oral scans before prescription.
Like it or not business and healthcare are intertwined. There is no running away from it as long as there is a need for pharmaceutical products. But is it really a bad thing? While certain turn of events have painted a rather bleak relationship between the two, it is not always the case. As long as the business ethics are upheld and the end goal is the provision of services from the heart, healthcare and business can benefit everyone. As a smart consumer, be knowledgeable of your treatment options.
Read more about ClearSmile in the articles below:
- Fear Of Braces? Unlocking The Alternatives With Aligners
- ClearSmile – The Secret To A Perfect Smile
- What Does Your Dentist Say About Dental Aligners?
- Owning Your Invisible Aligners – As Easy As ABC
- Confessions Of A Cheapoholic – The Dirty Smile
- The Prudent Smile – Making A Wise Choice
- The Aesthetic Generation – Why Is Smiling Important?
- Date With The Dentist? Your Aligners’ Worries Answered