News & Updates

This Louisville startup fills gaps in the dental industry

By Chris Larson  – Reporter, Louisville Business First

Oct 25, 2019, 6:31am EDT

Not many people like going to the dentist. But one thing’s for sure — it certainly would make things more convenient if the dentist came to you.

Louisville-based startup Kare Mobile Inc. does just that and more through a mobile application, software and specially built full-service mobile dentistry trucks. Founded in May 2017 by the group’s CEO Dr. Kwane Watson, the company initially took a software-first approach to try to fill the gap between the more than 1.3 million Kentuckians that receive dental benefits from the state’s Medicaid program and dentists looking to fill empty dental chairs.

The plan initially was to partner with one of the state’s managed-care organizations — the companies that contract with the state to provide and manage participant benefits — on providing a mobile app for potential Medicaid dental patients to find and make an appointment with participating dentists on a same-day basis.

Brittany Becker, chief operating officer for Kare Mobile, explained that Medicaid enrollees have a hard time getting connected with dentists because many dental offices won’t accept Medicaid. Two major reasons for that: high no-show rates and relatively low reimbursements rates.

Becker said same-day appointments have a 96 percent show rate compared to about 60 percent on scheduled-out appointments.

But a managed care organization partnership didn’t work out. So, the company pivoted to providing dental care in customized dental trucks as a way to monetize the app that’s free for dentists and patients. The company has two. The first was built out of a van that Watson, who is a dentist, owned. A friend of his that builds food trucks helped him build it out.

The mobile units hit the road at the end of August 2018.

The company uses the app to schedule appointments and coordinate with potential patients. The company then establishes when, where and what kind of procedure the patient needs over the phone. Kare Mobile also leases the mobile trucks to dentists for up to 10 days at a time.

Kare Mobile is also working on rolling out a patented lab coat that is resistant to blood, spit and radiation from the X-ray machine in the trucks.

Watson and Becker were participants in the Louisville-based health care and life science accelerator XLerateHealth, which is a 12-week boot camp for early-stage companies.

The two provided more information in a Q&A with Business First:

Where did you get your entrepreneurial spirit?

Kwane: I have been an entrepreneur since I was 12 years old. I guess it was just something I was born with. I had my own grass cutting and snow removal business when I was a kid. And that’s when it all started for me.

Is there anything inherent in dentistry that begets entrepreneurialism?

Kwane: There is a scientific and artistic portion to dentistry, and I think the best dentists are ones who can be creative and innovative, a trait that fits most entrepreneurs as well.

What is the best part of your job?

Kwane: The best part is meeting new people and helping those without access to care.

Brittany: I love not sitting behind a desk all day. I get to spend time and interact with each patient. Plus, I am getting to see parts of the city I have never seen.

What is the biggest struggle?

Kwane: With the mobile business, the biggest hurdle was financing. The concept of mobile dentistry was new, and we were unable to get a conventional loan to help get us started.

Brittany: We also had to learn by trial on a lot of the logistical details — about how to schedule patients most efficiently for us.

Do you think other aspects of health care will move to on-demand models?

Kwane: Yes, society is going to a “want it brought to me at my convenience” model due to everyone’s busy schedules.

Brittany: We see it with Amazon and even now the grocery stores willing to deliver your goods the same day you request them.

How has working in Louisville benefited your efforts?

Kwane: Louisville has been home for close to 30 years and I love servicing the community I have lived in over half of my life.

What’s next for Kare Mobile? What’s on the near horizon?

Kwane and Brittany: Collaborations and partnerships with larger group practices and regional expansion.

What is your No. 1 need?

Kwane and Brittany: Capital.

By Chris Larson  – Reporter, Louisville Business First

Oct 25, 2019, 6:31am EDT

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