More Blurred Lines!!!

We have often discussed how large sections of health care, that used to be the clear domain of a particular specialty or provider type, are now being redirected into other hands. Typically, the flow is downward in the food chain. Primary care sliding from physicians to NP’s and PA’s, in private practices or in pharmacy clinics. Fitting of hearing aids moving from ENT’s offices and audiologists to patient do-it-yourself. Etc.

Here’s another one. Smileclubdirect is partnering with Walgreens and CVS to provide “teeth-straightening” in their pharmacies. Patients are provided with a free scan of their teeth. This scan, it should be noted, isnotcarried out by a dentist. Those customers who decide to proceed with therapy then have their cases passed electronically through licensed dentists and orthodontists who “approve” and “manage” their cases. The invisible aligners are then shipped direct to the patients.  

Bottom Line. Lots of consequences here. Probably the most obvious positive outcome is that patients who otherwise wouldn’t have convenient access to orthodontia wind up being treated, doubtless to their benefit.  

However. The shifting of revenues and profits away from dentists and orthodontists, who fit “Invisalign” appliances for a living, may substantially alter the economics of those professions.

Look for more shifts of this nature to come in the future!

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