ADA “Transparency” in Health IT [Part I]

It all Depends on the Meaning of the Word  

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS

It is my hope that the walls are beginning to close in on the American Dental Association’s healthcare IT hobbyists and other ambitious stakeholders who stoically tolerate harm to dental patients for the common good and personal power.  Supporting HIPAA is the most egregious blunder ADA leaders have ever made.  As the effort collapses because of natural reasons, those who hang onto absurdity the longest will lose the most.  Fair is fair. Those who recklessly promoted HIPAA have done long term damage to my professional organization.  I cannot let this continue. 

“Seal of Approval” 

I will show you irrefutable evidence that the once strong ADA, whose legendary “ADA Seal of Approval” was highly respected in the marketplace before it went on sale, is now a vulnerable empty shell.  In an age when transparency trumps talking points, the ADA is hemorrhaging credibility every time President Dr. John Findley opens his mouth.  In his address to the House of Delegates a couple of days ago, Dr. Findley said that he “values and promotes ‘transparency,’ which he defined as an openness and honesty that helps build and maintain trust”.

Evidence-Based Dentistry

After two and a half years of asking questions to virtually every officer in the ADA, including Dr. Findley, I can tell you with certainty that ADA leadership still just does not get it.  It is impossible for one to use the word “transparency” as a buzzword successfully.  The term is not vague like “Evidence-Based Dentistry,” which of course can mean whatever stakeholders need it to.

“Intelligent Dental Marketing?” 

We must face this fact, friends:  Between the ADA’s chronic paralyzing fear of trouble from the FTC and the progressive loss of respect in the marketplace, the ADA can no longer offer adequate and uncontaminated representation for dentists and their patients.  In my opinion, a large part of the problem is that the ADA has gone commercial.  I might tolerate ads on our website, but they better be expensive and few. However, did you know that the ADA is in commercial partnership with an outside PR firm to sell practice marketing to ADA members?  It is called “Intelligent Dental Marketing.”  I think it is an atrocious idea.


Here is a question about intelligent marketing which nobody will answer:  If two ADA members, the only two dentists in a small town, both use IDM, which one will get the better deal?


I say that if the ADA has to sell stuff to dentists to keep dues low, that is an unethical business arrangement which favors third parties and does nothing to improve patient care.  I think downsizing is a far better idea. 

What do you think? All comments are appreciated.

[Part II will be posted soon]

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4 Responses

  1. Intelligent Dental Marketing Disappoints ADA Member

    You know what I think happened to the world economy; Good ol’ boys in high places.

    It is my opinion that there are far too many quietly arranged sweetheart deals in the nation that favor good ol’ boys. Though the agreements are not technically illegal, they are arguably unethical, and would never survive modern transparency. I think it is a tradition that crosses all borders and permeates modern society from small businesspeople to the highest government officials.

    From what I have seen in my own niche microcosm of dentistry, it is easy to imagine how traditional habits quietly influence entities like, say, lawmakers and pork barrel pushers, or Freddie Mac and mortgage lenders. Or even, Intelligent Dental Marketing and the ADA. At the risk of hurting feelings, I have to confess that in-your-face unresponsiveness from both organizations arouses my suspicions.

    I am disappointed in ADA/IDM. Almost three weeks ago I openly asked three straightforward questions in an email to Intelligent Dental Marketing, and there still has been no public response.

    I repeat the three questions directed to IDM, here on the PennWell forum. (I no longer send emails to IDM because I no longer have to; they are watching intently and I assume are too scared to squeal).

    1. What is the financial arrangement between IDM and the ADA? How is the profit split?

    2. How is marketing of your advertisement business handled when it is performed by the ADA? For example, on November 13, an article with no byline appeared on the ADA News Online with the title “Can your patients find you online? – What you need to know about search engine marketing”

    Who paid for your advertisement on my professional organization’s website?

    3. If two ADA members are the only dentists in a small town, will the dentist that spends the most for your services get the best representation?

    If anyone else has a question for IDM, be my guest. The line is open. Intelligent Dental Marketing is defenseless.

    D. Kellus Pruitt; DDS


  2. ADA transparency experiment


    Here are some facts that have been established so far: In the last two weeks I emailed three questions to the “ADA E-mail Member Discussion” link.

    In the first posting, I sent a hard question and a soft question. A week later, I posted only a soft question, hoping to find an acceptance threshold for members’ questions. I still have not received a response to any of them.


    Either someone knows it is an unhappy customer at the door or nobody is home. Which is worse? Would you hire whoever is in charge of the “ADA E-mail Member Discussion”? You may get the chance.

    New week, new tests, new links

    Test 1. “How many dentists are in the ADA?”

    On Friday, I became involved in an online discussion with “Rex” and “Jane” concerning the relevancy of the ADA. The thread follows my article, “ADA Mission Creep” on the Medical Executive-Post.

    Rex asked me how many dentists are members of the ADA. Rather than attempting to explain to him that even as a member, I cannot get even those kinds of questions answered, I did a quick search on the ADA homepage and found this link: . I sent the simple question “Can you tell me how many members are in the ADA? Thanks, Darrell Pruitt DDS”

    That was sent at 11:22 AM on March 6. Let’s see what happens to it.

    Test 2. “Evidence-based Dentistry”

    I once again asked if I had been selected to attend the EBD Conference. This time, I sent the question to a link that is most likely to be responsive. I sent it to the EBD link.

    “I submitted essays this fall in an application to attend the EBD conference. Can you tell me if the attendees have been yet chose?

    See you next week.

    Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS


  3. Hello Darrell,

    Great points; and here is another.

    I am hounded by the AARP to join; yet why? Two or three decades ago they had a legitimate purpose to advocate for senior citizens. But now, with the baby boomer generation emerging; we are the de-facto marketplace, so why join at all?

    I think Gen Xers and Gen Yers will continue to run away from the medical associations; as well they probably should. Fifty is the new thirty.

    Is there a deeper medical association metaphor, here?



  4. Jane,

    I am a little unclear about your question. Are you talking about joining as a preferred provider?


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