Industry news from Proofs magazine

COSTA MESA, CALIF. CareCredit, a patient payment program, is commemorating its 20-year anniversary.

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CareCredit celebrates 20th anniversary

COSTA MESA, CALIF. CareCredit, a patient payment program, is commemorating its 20-year anniversary. Established in 1987, at the request of dentists, CareCredit was initially offered to practices to help their patients pay for new implant technology. Over the next two decades, insurance benefits remained static while technology rapidly advanced and the cost of dentistry increased. Today, every minute seven patients apply for CareCredit to help receive care ranging from crowns and implants to dentures and full-mouth smile makeovers.

“Twenty years ago, I started to offer CareCredit because my philosophy is that every one of my patients should be given the opportunity and ability to accept my best care recommendations,” explains Dr. Gary Weiner, the first doctor to enroll in the CareCredit program in 1987.

Dr. Weiner currently has a private practice in Inglewood, Calif., with 17 operatories.

Michael J. Testa, president of CareCredit said,“For 20 years, CareCredit has had the honor and privilege of serving dentists and their patients. Our commitment to helping patients access the care they need and want has been unwavering through the years.”

Today, CareCredit is at work in more than 70,000 practices in North America and is used by over 6 million patients. With innovations such as instant on-line applications and pre-approval, CareCredit is exclusively selected for their members by most state and national dental associations, including ADA Member Advantage, AGD, AAOMS, and AAP.

Align incorporates service to former OrthoClear patients

Align Technology Inc. announced on Dec. 21 an update regarding its Patients First Program for providing no-charge Invisalign treatment to former OrthoClear patients.

In 2006, Align launched the Patients First Program to provide no-charge Invisalign treatment to doctors and patients impacted by competitor OrthoClear, Inc.’s decision to cease business operations as part of a legal settlement with Align.

Doctors who wished to take advantage of the program were required to register their OrthoClear patients with Align by December 15, 2006. Between the October 30, 2006, registration start date and the December 15 registration deadline, approximately 30,500 former OrthoClear patients were registered for Invisalign treatment. Align received case submissions for 16,200 of those registered patients and expected to ship 20 to 25 percent of received cases in the Santa Clara, Calif., company’s fourth quarter.

As a result of the influx of Patients First Program cases and a high number of regular Invisalign case submissions, Align expects to process all Patients First Program cases by late May 2007 at a total cost of $8 to $10 million.

Processing time for Patients First Program cases may take 12 to 16 weeks due to manufacturing constraints, primarily for ClinCheck set-ups, which require highly-skilled, specially-trained dental technicians. Align has hired and is currently training 100 new technicians. The company is also continuing to increase customer call center capabilities to handle the 40 percent increase in calls since the Patients First Program launch.

“Our initial plan for implementing the Patients First Program allowed us to help former OrthoClear patients without impact to our existing customers or new, paid Invisalign cases,” said Thomas Prescott, Align president and CEO. “Based on higher than anticipated demand from the Patients First Program and from regular new patients, we have to re-set expectations going forward. Invisalign customers may see longer customer service hold times and slight delays in ClinCheck processing times for the next few months.”

Once the ClinCheck is approved by the doctor, normal manufacturing times will apply. Doctors can always get accurate, up to date information on submitted cases through their Invisalign VIP account.

Web site allows youths to see designs of braces

Bracket Jacketz launched a new Web site in January (bracketjacketz.com) that allows kids to see how their smile would look with Bracket Jacketz and then email the design to a friend. The Web site also provides information to orthodontists about the features and benefits of Bracket Jacketz and how to order the product.

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In the Design Your Own Smile feature, kids can click and drag Bracket Jacketz design clips onto a virtual mouth with braces and see how Bracket Jacketz can transform their “metal mouth” into a fashion statement. In this feature, kids can choose from the 25 different Bracket Jacketz designs, which feature alphabetical letters and popular symbols, and then try the designs on either clear or colored clips.

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