In February of 2018, then newly minted Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, sat before the House Energy and Commerce Committee and declared, “I am a big supporter of telehealth and how we can harness that, especially for underserved areas like our rural communities.” Fast forward to 2020, when the Secretary’s commitment to telehealth would be put to the test as COVID-19 swept the nation, and the world.
Enter SmileDirectClub. On Tuesday, the Nashville-based disruptor welcomed the Secretary to its Tennessee manufacturing facility, providing a tour of its 3D printing innovations and discussing their shared commitment to telehealth. When the pandemic hit, the proud U.S. manufacturer quickly pivoted the core use of their 3D printing manufacturing site from printing clear aligners for teeth straightening to creating over 60,000 face shields and other PPE for frontline healthcare workers – a move the Secretary called, “an example of the historic mobilization of the private sector.”
“The Secretary’s visit was an important opportunity to shine a spotlight on the safety, efficacy, convenience of teledentistry and its applications for teeth straightening and remote care, all at significantly reduced costs. We look forward to working with the Department of Health and Human Services to broaden access to care, especially for communities in remote or underserved locations.”
– Dr. Jeffrey Sulitzer, Chief Clinical Officer at SmileDirectClub
As a pioneer of teledentistry, SmileDirectClub is democratizing the oral care industry, increasing access to affordable teeth-straightening treatment, a service that has historically evaded underserved communities across the U.S. By removing the cost-prohibitive barrier of traditional orthodontic treatment and creating a variety of on-ramps for customers, including an at-home impression kit option, SmileDirectClub is not only increasing access to consumers, it’s revolutionizing the way they think about healthcare.
In an interview with The Hill’s Virtual Town Hall, “Health Reimagined: The Future of Healthcare,” Secretary Azar noted that telehealth is here to stay. “I think we’d have a revolution if anyone tried to go backwards on this,” he said. “This is now I think an embedded part of our health care system. It has changed the nature of delivery. It’s brought us better up to date in the system.”