The Future of Teledentistry -California Bill To Take A Harder Stand
It appears that the future of teledentistry involves California making a stronger attempt at controlling companies these types of teledentistry services, like SmileDirectClub, the clear-aligner company. The state has introduced a new bill that will require dentists to meet with patients in-person before they can remotely provide any services.
The Democrat Assemblymember Evan Low, who represents Silicon Valley, on January 27 introduced the AB 1998 Dental Practice Act to establish strong safeguards against dental practices that are questionable. It would prevent people from getting aligners online as well as other product without seeing a dentist in person first.
What the Future of Teledentistry Means for You the Provider
If this bill passes, any dentist who prescribes orthodontic appliances provides a tooth correction plan or diagnoses a patient for the very first time without the patient having had an in-person exam will be considered to be in violation.
The patient’s dental and medical history must be completed as well and they must be evaluated with a diagnosis of oral conditions and a licensed dentist must develop a written plan. The act states that a treating dentist who fails to conduct an in-person examination will be considered to be unprofessional conduct.
The law would also require online service providers to identify which dentists are providing treatments
If this bill is signed into law, this would tighten restrictions even further on the teledentistry that were adopted by the state in September 2019. California was the first state in the country to pass a teledentistry law that required x-rays and to take other steps before patients can receive treatment from SmileDirectClub or other providers.
The law also required online service providers to identify which dentist is providing treatments and give a clear path to patients for filing complaints with California’s Dental Board. However, this time around there might be more of an uphill battle for Low’s bill.
Although AB 1519 was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2019, he did criticize the process that was taken by lawmakers in order to pass the legislation. Needless to say, he has a different outlook on the future of teledentistry. Newsom stated that the law, which the ADA applauded, and the California Dental Association supported, should have had more discussion, and not added it to a sunset bill at the last minute. Sunset bills are used to amend passages in existing laws. This kind of legislation is typically reserved for issues that are not expected to elicit a lot of comments or for emergencies.
Other types of calls to action
This is lawmakers making another attempt to further inhibit the expansion of SmileDirectClub into the industry. Then in January, nine U.S House of Representative members called on the Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration to investigate SmileDirectClbu to determine whether or not it was harming patients and misleading consumers.
Most of these congressmen are dentists and doctors. They sent a letter to the FDA and FTC and asked the agencies to investigate the questionable advertising tactics used by SmileDirectClub, along with its 510(k) registration with the FDA, and the estimated 2,000 complaints filed by consumers with the Better Business Bureau.
A 510(k) registration is filed with the FDA to demonstrate that a device, such as an aligner, is effective and safe, as a legally marketed device that doesn’t need approval prior to being introduced into the marketplace.
This news also follows the Dental Board of California asking the Central District of California’s U.S. District Court to dismiss the lawsuit that had been filed in October 2019 against it by SmileDirectClub and Dr. Jeffrey Sulitzer, its chief clinical officer. SmileDirectClub and Dr. Sultizer sued the dental board, where they alleged that it harassed them intentionally to curb the growth of the company.
There has not been a ruling by the judge whether or not the suit will be dismissed based on the claim made by the board that it was investigating and not harassing the company. According to the board, the result of the investigation was to file a formal complaint against Dr. Sultizer, which accused him of violating California’s dental laws.
Who knows what the future of teledentistry may hold but we hope this article helped you a lot. If you’re looking to learn more about how to help your practice grow – don’t forget to download our FREE 43-page Report on Increasing Case Sizes and Collections.