Invisalign let us know what is going on!
Last week I wrote a very popular post about Invisalign, their advertising and the opening of an Invisalign store in San Francisco. Since then Jamie Morley who is the General Manager for Invisalign, UK and Ireland, has responded to me. He has provided clarification on some of the points that I raised. I thought that this was interesting and I have posted his well set out comments in this post. This is great two way interaction and it is good that Invisalign have responded.
I would also like to take the opportunity to comment on your recent blog post. We realize you and your readers have some questions regarding some of our recent marketing activities, and I’d like to address some of those concerns and clear up a few misconceptions that we saw in your blog post.
Align is committed to helping expand the market for orthodontic treatment and connect more potential patients with Invisalign practices – that is at the heart of everything we do. We invest millions of dollars each year in technology innovation to advance the practice of orthodontics, and to build a brand that creates positive awareness of orthodontic treatment and connects potential patients with Invisalign practices.
The Invisalign pilot store
The Invisalign store pilot programme that we launched in November is an extension of our long-standing direct-to-consumer marketing programmes that connect potential patients directly to doctors for Invisalign treatment. This model relies on the doctor – and the doctor’s office – for treatment. We believe the Invisalign store pilot will encourage more people to straighten their teeth by engaging consumers who might not otherwise seek orthodontic treatment. The store concept leverages what is familiar to consumers about retail shopping. They can stop in, browse, learn, make a purchase decision – or not make one and just leave better informed.
The store allows consumers to learn about clear aligner treatment in a comfortable retail environment and uses a digital scan and simulation to help them see how they might look after Invisalign treatment. The simulation is not a ClinCheck treatment plan. Store employees are not treatment planning. They are discussing options, leveraging the power of visualisation, and helping interested consumers get started with an Invisalign doctor of their choice. Our in-store message to consumers is clear: we believe doctors play a critical role in your treatment from start to finish.
Similarly, the social media post featuring the image of dental tools that you referenced in your blog was intended to educate and inform consumers on the evolution of orthodontic treatment, in particular, how Invisalign represents the modern approach to straightening teeth with clear aligners. Many consumers, especially adults for whom the post was intended, don’t realize that treatment options today have advanced significantly from what they might think, or from what they remember from their childhood. We recognize and regret the poor execution of this message in the social media post. Our intent was not to offend orthodontists or portray orthodontists as outdated – what would this serve? Align’s consumer marketing is designed to always, ultimately connect interested consumers with Invisalign practices, and we want and need consumers to think positively of orthodontists and teeth straightening.
There are millions and millions of people around the world who want or could benefit from straighter teeth. Reaching all of those people, helping them understand treatment options, and getting them started in treatment will require new approaches, new models. We’re committed to doing that in partnership with orthodontists.
Points in the blog post
Finally, there were several specific points in your blog post that I would like to clarify:
“Invisalign bought a large shareholding in SmileDirectClub (SDC)…”
Align Technology is a third-party supplier of non-Invisalign aligners to SDC and has a 19% equity investment in SDC.
“Invisalign is exploring a similar model. …(to SDC) with the opening of an Invisalign store…”
The Invisalign store pilot is a different model from SmileDirectClub. First and foremost, consumers who explore Invisalign at the Invisalign store must see an Invisalign doctor in their practice to start treatment. The objective of the Invisalign store pilot is to reach more consumers, educate them about how they could look with a better smile, and connect them with an Invisalign practice of their choice if they decide to pursue orthodontic treatment. We are engaging with consumers in a new way, but our goal remains the same: get more patients started in treatment with an Invisalign doctor.
“The staff, who may not be dentally qualified, discuss treatment and scan their teeth…”
The Invisalign store retail staff is trained to conduct intraoral scans and to educate and inform consumers about their options for obtaining a better smile with Invisalign. They explain the process for selecting an Invisalign doctor of their choice who will make all decisions regarding treatment and who will conduct a physical examination to confirm the consumer is a good candidate for treatment before that treatment starts .
“The technician then builds a ClinCheck and discusses this with the patient.”
The Invisalign store does not show consumers a “ClinCheck treatment plan.” If the consumer gets a complimentary intra-oral scan, then they will see an Invisalign simulation so they can visualize what their smile might look like after Invisalign clear aligner treatment.
“The patient selects a local dentist/orthodontist to monitor the treatment.”
The doctor the consumer selects does more than monitor treatment. The Invisalign doctor selected by the consumer will create a ClinCheck treatment plan for that consumer and send it to them for review. Invisalign treatment will not start until the consumer has reviewed and approved the treatment plan prepared by their doctor and their doctor has conducted a physical examination of the consumer and confirmed they are a good candidate for treatment.
“The patient then attends the dentist/orthodontist to have their aligners fitted and treatment monitored.”
Per above, the doctor does more than monitor treatment. The consumer must visit the doctor’s office and have a physical examination by the doctor before they can receive clear aligners and Invisalign treatment can begin.
“I think there are several issues. These are concerned with whether a dentist examines the patient in the Invisalign store.”
Align does not practice dentistry and is not treating patients in the Invisalign store. Consumers who subsequently elect to become patients see a doctor in the doctor’s office. A consumer from the Invisalign store cannot receive clear aligners and Invisalign treatment cannot not start until the consumer has reviewed and approved the treatment plan prepared by their doctor and their doctor has conducted a physical examination of the consumer and confirmed they are a good candidate for treatment.
Emeritus Professor of Orthodontics, University of Manchester, UK.