Dental Treatment Evolving with Digital Technology (Part 11)
Interview with Dental Start-up SQRIE - About its Business Prospects
From the Healthtech/SUM 2022 Pitch Contest 【Second Half】
SQRIE. Co., Ltd (hereinafter ‘SQRIE’) is a dental start-up company that set up its headquarters on the campus of Kyoto University. It has patented and plans to market the HAKKEN Mirror, which allows users to take their own photos of their oral cavity using a smartphone. In the first half of the interview, we heard about the business of SQRIE, which was selected as one of the eight finalists of start-ups working in health tech at Healthtech/SUM 2022 on 1 and 2 December 2022. In the second half, we hear more about the prospects for the business and his views on online dentistry from Takahiro Okamoto, a dentist and dental designer who is the CEO of SQRIE.
Q. What is the status of the HAKKEN Mirror business?
Dr. Okamoto: HAKKEN Mirror has been moving forward with a planned sales launch in December 2022. As for online dental checkup services, the app and system are undergoing internal testing, and we aim to release them in the first half of 2023. We plan to launch the service with a network of related dentists and provide to dentists outside the network after the service expands. We are also developing a system for dentists, which we aim to launch in March 2023. We also aim to make it available to people in the community who do not have easy access to dental care.
Q. Where are your company’s cash points?
Dr. Okamoto: These are HAKKEN Mirror sales, platform usage fees from dentists, and monthly fees from dental practices.
Q. Online medical care was also a topic at Healthtech/SUM 2022, what do you think about the move towards online medical care in dentistry?
Dr. Okamoto: This overlaps with the previous point, but in dentistry, we cannot say anything if we cannot see inside the mouth, so even with the Corona Disaster, the move to online is not progressing. Although it is possible to make some judgments, such as checking the progress of orthodontic treatment, using only photographs of the front teeth from the outside, information on the occlusal surfaces of the teeth is necessary to diagnose tooth decay, etc., to the back teeth. HAKKEN Mirror allows images of the back teeth to be taken at home, which might be useful to obtain more advanced advice.
Small cameras are developed to intraoral use, but their high cost has made it impractical for patients to have them. The HAKKEN Mirror uses the camera on the patient's smartphone, which is expected to facilitate online dental care.
Current online practice guidelines are designed with medicine (especially internal medicine) in mind and focus on patient conversations. We believe that dental-specific guidelines will be needed for dentistry to go online.
Q. Are you thinking of expanding overseas?
Dr. Okamoto: With a view to overseas sales, we have filed a PCT application (Patent Cooperation Treaty) for a patent for the HAKKEN mirror. We are currently considering which countries to move to, but we are thinking mainly of the USA and Singapore, where dental treatment is expensive. We are also considering overseas expansion of the system for dental clinics, and after the development of an imaging dental health checkup AI, overseas growth of online dental services.
Q. What do you think of the prospects for the health tech industry, which has seen progress in recent years?
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