Our story starts one night in 2004, at Wofford College, when our founder, Hitesh Tolani, met his scholarship donor, the Honorable Dennis. W. Shedd, a 4th circuit appellate court system judge of the United States. As a 22-year-old senior in college, when Hitesh asked Judge Shedd, “What can I do to thank you?“, Judge Shedd looked back at him and said, “You want to be a dentist? When you finally become one, you will have a skill that will empower you to treat and heal. When you use that skill to help those who need it most, consider me thanked!”
These words echoed in Hitesh’s ears throughout his training and instilled in him the responsibility and desire to pay-it-forward. However, Hitesh found the number of people who could not access dental care overwhelming. One day though, a friend emailed Hitesh asking him to read his recent dental x-rays to provide a second opinion and that was Hitesh’s inspiration for leveraging telemedicine to increase access to oral healthcare and to drive down costs. Hitesh felt this was a solution that could change and impact the entire profession and empower dentists to use their skills to treat and heal on a larger scale. For the next three years, Hitesh worked to pilot virtudent, bring on board the key stakeholders needed to launch an entirely new care delivery model. By paving the path for teledentistry and championing it for mainstream use was a way for him to pay it forward in spades.
John’s path to virtudent started with his mom’s battle with cancer and subsequent passing before he was 20. The burdensome logistical experience of navigating the healthcare system over the five years she battled cancer motivated him to want to improve the experience for others and make care coordination more seamless so patients can focus on what matters most, getting better and staying healthy.
John spent 7+ years working in the health IT sector, but found that although IT added value to healthcare delivery, it was far from a cure to make the system work better. In many cases, it added complexity and costs. While implementing IT solutions, especially in rural areas, John realized that one of the most consistent pain points in our nation today was the lack of access to all types of preventive care. As he began exploring how to bring basic preventive care to rural communities in affordable ways, John met Hitesh…
Today, virtudent is the first commercial teledentistry practice in the United States. We’re committed to increasing access to care, lowering costs, and bettering outcomes. Our goal is to always put patient’s first and help make basic preventative dental care easy and accessible.
As pioneers of teledentistry, we’ve been given the opportunity to set a precedent and work alongside national players to change the landscape of oral healthcare delivery. By partnering with companies like Microsoft, Wayfair, EF Education First and many others, we are making it easy for busy employees to finally make it to the dentist. As a part of our commitment to do good while doing well, we then take proceeds from our commercial visits and dedicate them to serving under-served populations like children at the Boys & Girls Clubs, where we see kiddos who have never been to the dentist in their lives. Coming to work has never been more meaningful and rewarding!
Thank you for reading our story and thank you for being a part of our mission at virtudent!
Hitesh & John