Wednesday 12 December 2018

Dental app takes bite of US market

Toothpic founder Mark Moore
Toothpic founder Mark Moore
Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

Have a worrying niggle in your tooth, but don't have the time, or finances, to get to the dentist? There's an app for that.

Dublin-based Toothpic, which uses disruptive technology to increase a client's access to dental care, first launched in 2015.

In the last three years, it has opened offices in Ireland and New York, employs 15 full-time staff and boasts users in 70 countries.

The app's genesis occurred when Limerick-born Mark Moore called his dad Gus, a dentist, after noticing a gap in his lower gum. Gus asked for a photo of the problem area, commented on the quality of the snap, and was able to give a relatively immediate recommendation, and Moore's entrepreneurial radar perked up.

"It was just a basic idea at first. We had a look around to see if anyone else was doing something similar but they weren't. So we built a simple app so that people could take photos of their gums and teeth and send them back to dad," the 29-year-old told the Irish Independent.

Toothpic was born, and established with co-founder Jack Berrill, whom Moore had partnered on real-time deals startup MyTipOff with.

The popularity of the app grew but, while some Irish investors were interested in the business, the market wasn't quite ready.

Investors on board include PCH CEO Liam Casey, Enterprise Ireland and Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse.

Teladoc, the largest telehealth company in the US, is also backing the fledgling firm.

"Irish dentists are strong supporters of the app, most dentists want to drive volume and subsequent footfall.

"But when the app launched, the market and the insurance companies were only just coming to terms with telemedicine, so we decided to build our brand elsewhere," said Moore.

As such, Toothpic is focused on driving revenue in the US by changing the dental care delivery system as well as the reimbursement system.

The group has partnered with two US insurance companies, Dominion and HealthPartners, in an effort to bring telehealth services into mainstream dental care.

Trinity College graduate Mark also reveals that a short-term ambition of the company is to secure a national US insurance partnership, which would mean Toothpic would be available to over one million members by the end of the year.

"Different people are at different stages when it comes to dental, we offer people a variety of options in terms of that journey. The consultation is the first step, and it was the first step for us too," he said.

The app itself allows the user to have a consultation by photo sharing- and the technology allows the dentist to view the images in as much detail as if they were in an office setting, thus allowing for accurate recommendations or treatment.

Moore said that the core ambition of Toothpic is to remove barriers for those that need dental care, including negative perceptions of dentist, financial restrictions and lack of time.

"A user takes a photo and uploads it on to our site and a dentist in our network will get the notification, look at the photo and give a recommendation along with treatment options and cost estimates.

"There is also advice offered for home care to help prevent that issue from happening again in the future."

Although not yet available in Ireland, Toothpic is negotiating a new financing round to accelerate growth with insurance partners.

The company is also in the midst of a recruitment drive to expand its Dame Street team, with roles in tech, marketing and design available.

There are plans for the firm to bring its unique technology to the European market by early 2019, expecting to enter the Irish market towards the end of next year.

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