LED Medical Diagnostics Inc. ("LED Medical", "the Company"), a developer of tissue visualization detection technologies for the medical industry, today said that patient cost does not have to be a barrier to comprehensive oral health examinations for the vast majority of patients.
"The conventional oral exam, comprising visual inspection and palpation, should be part of every annual dental hygiene check-up, and few practices charge extra for that," said Peter Whitehead, founder and CEO of LED Medical Diagnostics and its subsidiary, LED Dental. Practices that also give patients an adjunctive oral health exam using technology such as LED Dental's VELscope® Vx Enhanced Oral Assessment System may or may not charge for the adjunctive exam.
"Our research among our users indicates that about a third of them do not charge for their VELscope® exams," said Mr. Whitehead. "Of those that do, the average fee charged is about $35 annually." He added that more and more dental insurance programs are covering much or all of the cost of adjunctive exams under reimbursement code CDT D0431, which was approved by the American Dental Association in 2005.
One reason VELscope® Vx users are able to charge such a low-or no-fee for exams is that the cost of the VELscope® Vx is roughly half the cost of earlier generation systems. What makes this particularly appealing to dentists is the fact that the cordless VELscope® Vx is also much more mobile and convenient than the corded earlier models. "We were able to make our latest generation VELscope® not only less expensive, but more effective as well," said Mr. Whitehead. Moreover, many VELscope® Vx users report that the technology has helped them attract new patients to their practice, which provides owners with additional economic benefits.
According to Mr. Whitehead, VELscope® Vx owners indicate that most patients whose insurance programs do not reimburse for adjunctive oral mucosal exams still want the exam. "A VELscope® Vx exam takes only two minutes, is completely comfortable and painless, and can be part of a regular hygiene check-up," he said. "When patients understand this, not to mention the fact that the exam can help detect oral cancer or other diseases in early and more easily treatable stages, a fee of $35 or so suddenly seems pretty insignificant."
Historically, the majority of oral cancer cases have been discovered in late stages, when the five-year survival rate is only about 50 percent. However, when the disease is discovered in early stages, the survival rate leaps to about 83%. Fortunately, numerous clinical studies and LED Dental's research among VELscope® Vx users indicate that the combination of a conventional oral examination and a VELscope® Vx examination can help clinicians detect oral cancer, as well as other diseases, at an earlier stage than would otherwise have been the case. This can mean not only a higher survival rate, but less invasive treatment and hence a lower likelihood of serious facial disfigurement.
"When you consider the positive impact early detection can have on a patient's life expectancy and morbidity, you could certainly make the case that money should be no object when it comes to a VELscope® exam," said Mr. Whitehead. "Fortunately, the cost of the exam is every affordable for most patients, and for about a third of them, it's free."
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