Guess what? If you’ve ever signed on to participate in a Groupon-type social marketing coupon you may be convicted of Dirty Dancing with the Devil, otherwise known as fee-splitting. And Align Technologies will have none of it. Just to make sure you know that they’re watching you, this memo was sent out to all Invisalign providers today:
December 5, 2011
A small number of Invisalign practices have recently elected to offer their dental services and Invisalign treatment specifically through social coupons such as Groupon and Living Social. In response to this marketing practice, Align has received a number of complaints from other Invisalign customers who highlight that Invisalign is a rigorously regulated class II medical device which requires specialized medical training and a doctor’s prescription. As neither Invisalign nor the associated dental services are generic commodities, these Invisalign customers feel the use of social coupons is not in the patient’s best interests, and is unethical and demeaning to the dental profession.
We agree. In fact, Align does not endorse the arbitrary sale of dental services and Invisalign treatment through social coupons and is not a party to any such offerings. Align believes that the interests of both prospective patients and the practitioner are best protected by requiring a patient examination to confirm a patient`s suitability for Invisalign treatment before extending an offer to treat. Because both your services and each Invisalign treatment are unique (like the needs of each patient), we do not believe that either are appropriate for the web-based, group-buying social coupon process.
You should also be aware that the laws of most States prohibit practitioners from splitting fees with third-parties or non-practitioners. In response to the increase in the sale of medical services through social coupons, there is a growing sentiment that the sharing of fees between a doctor and social coupon sponsor may constitute such an illegal fee splitting arrangement. As a result, we encourage all Invisalign practitioners who may be considering participation in the social coupon process to consult with their attorney to evaluate the legal risks associated with such a transaction.
We hope you find information on these issues helpful. Because the dental services environment is evolving almost as rapidly as the technology itself, we intend to keep you current with our assessment of the latest trends so you can better achieve your practice goals. If you have any questions or comments, please contact your Invisalign representative or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vice President, North America Sales
Align Technology, Inc.
So dude, if you’re going to try and get new customers with Groupons, just don’t promise to do any actual dentistry! Offer patients something unique that you don’t need a license for, like this suggestion that was offered here at DentalBuzz a few months back!
If not, you’re probably better off using this method of get-’em-in-the-door marketing:
Hey, it’s your choice!