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At Dykema DSO 2021, Patient Prism’s CEO, Amol Nirgudkar, interviewed Grin’s CEO, Adam Schulhof, DDS. Grin technology remotely monitors the orthodontic process, supporting responsible care, while adding patient convenience. It does this so well that the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) named Grin the 2021 AAO Ortho Innovator Award winner.

 

Grin technology enhances the patient journey

As orthodontics changed over the last 20 years with clear aligners and the advent of new technologies, Dr. Adam Schulhof, who is in a private orthodontic practice in New Jersey, observed the patient journey remained much the same. The patient comes in every 4 to 8 weeks, is examined, and has an adjustment or receives new aligners.

“As consumers, patients are looking for everything instantly
on their mobile device” says Schulhof, “I realized I could leverage technology
to improve the patient journey.”

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The Grin company connects patients with orthodontists in their community, and Grin technology expedites the delivery of accurate dental scans to orthodontists on an intelligent platform that facilitates virtual consultations. It has utility for the entire patient journey from referral to diagnosis, treatment planning, treatment presentation, treatment acceptance, remote patient check-ins so the doctor can monitor and direct treatment without scheduling frequent in-office visits, and follow-up consults after completion of treatment.

The Grin Remote Monitoring Platform and Grin Remote Consultation are made possible by the Grin App and the Grin Scope, a patent-pending, FDA-listed medical device. The scope is an intraoral adapter that retracts the cheeks, allowing a full view into any patient’s mouth remotely. The scope works in concert with the Grin App to create high-quality, orthodontist-ready, self-scanned patient videos.

Schulhof’s team started on Grin one year before COVID-19. The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of the technology in orthodontic practices because patients prefer the convenience of remote communication.

“One of the core pillars of Grin's value proposition is infusing technology into the patient-doctor journey so doctors can give consumers what they're looking for, which we now know is not just reduced, transparent pricing but also convenience,” says Schulhof. “Patient demand for telehealth has been rising rapidly. We quickly realized how powerful this could be across all oral care, and now one of our investors is Procter and Gamble. They've seen our vision.”

 

 

Grin technology has been a “responsible disruption”

“This is a disruption of the normal orthodontic care process,” notes Nirgudkar.

“I like to call it responsible disruption,” says Schulhof. “I want doctors to have the kind of view that they would have if the patient was sitting in the chair. It's got to be responsible, and it's got to be a view that gives the doctor every bit of information that he or she needs.”

 

“So, an orthodontist should be able to plan and direct the treatment remotely, because the technology does the appropriate imaging. It’s accurate,” says Nirgudkar.

“Absolutely,” says Schulhof. “Responsible imaging is accurate and detailed enough to plan for attachments and IPR.”

 

Grin technology boosts patient confidence

Dr. Schulhof tells a story, “In the airport coming here, I started a conversation with someone who was wearing aligners. One of the key questions I asked is, ‘How often is your doctor having you come in?’ She was being treated by a general dentist, and her treatment looked like it was going beautifully. She said, ‘Well, actually, that's the thing. He pushed me off now to every eight weeks. But every time I put in a new tray I wonder if I am on track.’ Sometimes we don't realize that patients want to check in with their orthodontist. With Grin, they can take a scan, and the app says, ‘You look great, Cindy. Keep on going.’ Patients feel more confident.”

Orthodontists are anecdotally reporting they are doing fewer refinements because when a patient is due to change aligner trays or elastics on attachments, it takes 30 seconds to review the scan and say, “Fantastic, keep going” or “Wear the tray another seven days. We’re going to have the app ping you to send a new scan next week.”

This is likely because patients are more compliant in wearing their aligners and elastics when they know they will be remotely checking in with their doctor at the end of the week. Grin is starting to do clinical studies so they can report data that demonstrates the product’s efficacy for improving compliance, treatment speed, and treatment outcomes.

 

Virtual consults increase ortho acceptance

During COVID-19, many patients who were interested in orthodontics delayed coming in for diagnostic work up and to learn what their orthodontic treatment would be like says Schulhof. “Thankfully, there has been a remarkable recovery in patients moving forward with orthodontic treatment.”

When a new patient requests a remote consultation, Grin ships the Grin App and Grin Scope to the patient’s address. The patient then uses the app and scope to scan their teeth and upload their self-scanned video. The participating doctor examines the scan and records a remote consultation over the Grin platform to send back to the patient. The patient becomes interested in the aesthetic and functional changes that will occur, and a treatment coordinator starts communicating with the patient to schedule radiography, answer questions, discuss payment, and so on.

Schulhof says some patients sign up for treatment on the Grin platform, even before stepping into the orthodontist’s office. “We're taking a lead to the point of being almost sold or completely sold on the virtual platform—all while the participating doctor's consult column is full and the patient could not be fit into the doctor’s appointment schedule for a couple of weeks,” says Schulhof.

 

Grin technology expedites patient referrals to orthodontists

“One of the things I've seen in my visits to DSOs across the country is that general dentists typically do not have the skillset to diagnose and plan orthodontic treatment,” says Nirgudkar, who asks, “Can Grin technology be used in the GP’s office to move patients forward into orthodontic treatment?”

The answer is yes. Soon, many general dentists may be using the Grin platform to refer their patients more conveniently and expediently to orthodontists for diagnosis, treatment planning, and orthodontist-guided treatment acceptance.

Grin is piloting this now in a couple of DSOs and a couple of large dental practices. For example, the patient is in the chair and clearly needs orthodontics. The dentist is unsure of how long treatment will take and what it will involve. A trained member of the clinical team pulls out the Grin Scope, scans the patient, and sends the scan video to the participating orthodontist. On the orthodontist’s own time, he or she reviews the case, and sends back a video that explains exactly what is needed.

“The aesthetics and the function of millions of people over the next few years could be changed by leveraging technology that makes orthodontic and dental treatment more convenient, faster, and less expensive—with better results,” says Nirgudkar. “And all responsibly,” says Schulhof, “under the care of a doctor.”

 

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