Originally published on Forbes on March 12, 2020
Amid the vigorous debate about the state of the U.S. healthcare system, the glaring inequality in dental care among Americans is understated. The New Republic reported that in 2017, over 100 million individuals in the U.S lacked “any dental coverage.” The lack of insurance makes it cost-prohibitive to get care. Even for those who do have insurance, the average annual cost of visits in 2012 was $745. The price is guaranteed to have increased given the privatized healthcare system in the United States. Patients may forgo needed operations due to their cost, thus undetected dental issues turn into severe oral problems in the future. Wardah Inam and Deepak Ramaswamy created Overjet to improve modern oral patient care and attracted strong dental industry experts such as Shaju Puthussery to lead this effort. Overjet is a dental tech startup that analyzes clinical data to ensure better patient dental health and improve the overall quality of dental care. The Boston-based startup was incubated at the Harvard Innovation Lab.
The main challenge that dental practices currently face is minimizing the variability of care, specifically any variations in diagnosis and treatment protocols. These disparities in patient care led to mistrust and avoidable cost inefficiencies across the healthcare segment. The lack of a patient’s trust in his or her doctor leads to them rejecting their provider’s recommended treatments. The untreated diseases, such as periodontal disease, led to further complications for the patient and decreased revenue for the dental office.
According to Jacob Puhl of the Dentist Entrepreneur Organization, he finds that the total dental service organization market is worth $130 billion. More importantly, William Blair, a multinational investment banking and asset management firm, claims there is strong growth in the number of DSOs. They expect “that DSOs will grow at approximately 15 percent annually over the next five years, implying U.S. penetration could reach 30 percent by 2021.” A growing customer base in need of a data-driven solution is the ideal scenario for a company like Overjet to provide their products and services.
Overjet’s main product is a dashboard that aggregates the insights from the deep learning algorithms the startup uses to analyze the clinical data. Their AI engine works to identify common oral anomalies in X-rays of a patient’s mouth. By collecting these results in an accessible user interface, dentists can get a high-level view of the organization’s performance. DSOs can identify revenue opportunities, improve clinical care, increase individual dentist productivity, and, most importantly, further secure a patient’s trust. With Overjet, an organization can recapture the profit they were missing earlier as a consequence of suboptimal protocols. The nature of the problem Overjet is solving requires a team with deep domain expertise and business acumen.
“Dental insurers spend millions of dollars to analyze claims manually – we automate this process for them. This automatic analysis makes the review consistent and decreases the cost for payers. For dental groups, they use our platform to ensure standardization of care across their practices and identify any missed revenue opportunities using our dashboard,” Inam states.
Inam, Ramaswamy, and Puthussery come together to form a capable executive team with the necessary business and technical expertise. Overjet CEO Inam, who has a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), was a former product manager at Q Bio. She also founded uLink, a company that transferred autonomous grid technology to utility partners. The startup’s CTO, Ramaswamy, who also holds a Ph.D. from MIT, has over seventeen years of expertise in computational science. The COO, Puthussery, a graduate of Boston College, formerly worked at DentaQuest as their Chief Analytics Officer. With these three at the helm, Overjet could play a pivotal role in making American dental care better for all.