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Sales of Dental Equipment and eDRs Down

Peterson Dental Supply Reveals a Decline

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS

Yesterday, Kevin Henry posted “Dental news of the day for Thursday, Feb. 18” on the DentistryiQ Blog.

The source for the day’s dental news was a sales report provided by Patterson Dental Supply.


Soft Sales

“Sales of dental equipment and software declined 10% from the year-earlier level, which was consistent with Patterson’s forecast for this period.”

If one remembers the economy at the last of 2008, it is not difficult to understand why Patterson’s analysts forecast that sales of dental equipment would drop. But, how did they know that sales of Patterson EagleSoft, their clinical and practice management software would also fall by 10%? I find it interesting that their accurate prediction was made shortly after Patterson announced the release of EagleSoft Version 15.00 on October 10, 2008. That must have been discouraging to EagleSoft employees.

When is the last time you’ve heard of a company roll-out of a new version of software – expecting it to be even less successful the previous version? That’s interesting.

Health Policy and Politics 

What makes Patterson’s valiant prediction of a decline in software sales even more remarkable is that a year ago, President-elect Barack Obama was giddy enthusiastic for digital health records, which includes Patterson’s EagleSoft. Not to say I told you so [maybe-a-little], but Patterson’s analysts obviously recognized what I did long before: Digital dental records are losing popularity among dentists. What’s more, none of my patients have ever said that they wish I had digital dental records. Dental patients simply do not desire them.

As a matter of fact, some have expressed relief that my paper records are more secure than anyone’s digital records. They also like not having to sign HIPAA forms – a meaningless waste of trees and appointment time.

Insightful or clueless dentist?


A year after Patterson privately admitted doubt about paperless dental practices, the slow-moving ADA House of Delegates met in Hawaii in October ‘09 and officially encouraged ADA members to adopt eDRs. Why doesn’t the American Dental Association know at least as much about dentistry as Patterson Dental?

This is an intriguing time in dental history. I can’t wait until the ADA opens up about their mistakes in dental informatics. One of these days we’ll all have a good laugh about their lame, expensive shenanigans.


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7 Responses

  1. Darrell,

    First, I’d like to thank you for this educational article. Second, I would like to ask where I can find additional information regarding this post. I arrived here through Bing and cannot find many other relevant web sites on you, or this subject. The ADA and my local society was not helpful.

    Thank you.
    Mark Olsen; DDS
    Coral Gables, FLA


  2. Thanks for your concern, Mark.

    The ADA is quiet about eHRs for natural reasons. On the other hand, I welcome your questions.

    In addition to the ME-P, I post my opinions on a blog I call “Pruitt’s Platform.” Otherwise, I don’t maintain a site relevant to issues I pursue on the Internet.

    The way I keep current on the developments in eHRs is through simple Google alerts. If one waits for the JADA for important information, the news is at least 6 weeks old upon arrival. That is clearly no longer adequate.

    Though what I describe may sound incredible, I’m not inventing this stuff. As a matter of fact, here’s what was posted just a few hours ago by the ADA.


    Deadline for reporting breaches is March 1

    Posted Feb. 19, 2010 (no byline)

    The deadline for submitting notification to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services of any 2009 breaches of unsecured protected health information is March 1.

    In the Jan. 18 print ADA News, the deadline was listed incorrectly in a story on Page 7.

    The notification to HHS should include any breaches of unsecured protected health information between Sept. 23, 2009—when the Breach Notification Rule went into effect—and Dec. 31, 2009. For more information about


    It’s easy to recognize that ADA leaders who invested ADA members’ dues into HIPAA especially dread March 1st.

    Did you notice the quick link to HHS.gov ? The ADA long ago stopped answering members’ questions about HIPAA. Rather than attempt to justify absurdity, our dental leaders quickly re-direct us to an unresponsive HHS Cabinet Secretary. That is what we get for our dues.

    I know I’m probably overwhelming you with information, but should you want more real-time news from the event horizon, here’s a press release that was posted on Thursday. I promise it will be at least 6 weeks before you will read about this survey in the ADA News – even before corrections are posted.


    National Survey Reveals Privacy Breach Notification and Reputational Damage among Top Concerns with Regards to New Privacy Rules

    By: Business Wire

    Feb. 18, 2010 09:33 AM

    In a survey of more than 200 unique hospitals from across the US, nearly half of healthcare organizations (or 47.3 percent) believe their organization is already compliant with federal privacy laws such as ARRA HITECH and HIPAA and is audit ready. However, nearly one-third of survey respondents stated they will not be compliant with ARRA HITECH requirements by the set deadlines. The survey reveals that organizations are concerned with the challenges of monitoring dozens of healthcare applications, as well as deploying key technologies that will meet “accounting of disclosure,” user privacy monitoring and patient and user privacy monitoring requirements.

    FairWarning recently commissioned an independent firm to execute a national survey of healthcare providers. The majority of survey respondents were compliance, privacy or risk personnel, followed by IT management and executive management. The survey was designed to elicit answers regarding opinion and insights on new healthcare privacy regulations (specifically ARRA HITECH), patient safety, privacy and auditing budgets and information technology risk management.

    When asked questions specific to ARRA HITECH, respondents were most concerned about breach notification to the media, patient and the government. Survey respondents’ top three concerns surrounding non-compliance with any of the federal privacy laws, were 1) reputational impact of a failed audit or major privacy breach, 2) financial penalties for non-compliance and 3) media exposure.

    The survey also reveals that challenges remain for healthcare organizations. Compliance solutions require organizations to demonstrate effective use of solutions and technologies that permeate all business units, correspond with business processes and seamlessly integrate with the business functions of the organization. The survey revealed that healthcare organizations are beginning this process. Just 7 percent of respondents have demonstrated that they have both processes and automated systems in place which incorporate cornerstone technologies designed to eliminate security and privacy vulnerabilities.

    [The sales pitch section of this press release starts now. Did you know that HIPAA compliance has become so complicated that one needs computerization just to keep from being fined? Complicated mandates mean job security for those who work for FairWarning Inc.]

    “It is highly unlikely that an organization can fully comply with its obligations under HIPAA and the ARRA HITECH without implementing automated systems for patient and user privacy auditing, managing and aggregating accounting of disclosures and identity management,” stated John Houston, Vice President of Privacy and Information Security and Assistant Counsel at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “While respondents felt that their level of compliance was high, their implementation of necessary technologies was much lower.”

    The complete survey findings further reveal healthcare organizations are:

    * Familiar with new healthcare privacy and security regulations, specifically ARRA HITECH

    * Concerned with the reputational impact associated with a breach and breach notification requirements

    * Mobilizing to meet compliance requirements and deploying critical technologies to plug security gaps and meet compliance requirements

    * Allocating budget to meeting new privacy and security requirements

    * Beginning to believe that enforcement of these laws is a government priority and,

    * In need of further education to align spending and technology deployments to government expectations

    “It continues to be our pleasure to work with the world’s leading healthcare systems in privacy breach detection and compliance automation,” said FairWarning CEO Kurt Long. “The survey data reinforces FairWarning’s belief that healthcare organizations are striving to meet compliance requirements. However, there is still market education needed on actual compliance activities and requirements.”

    To download the complete survey report, or view “The State of Healthcare Privacy in the U.S. – Survey Results and Expert Perspectives” webinar, co-hosted by John Houston of UPMC, and Deven McGraw of the Center for Democracy and Technology, please visit http://www.fairwarningaudit.com/subpages/healthcare-privacy-survey-… .

    About FairWarning, Inc.

    FairWarning® is the world’s leading supplier of cross-platform healthcare privacy auditing solutions for Electronic Health Records. FairWarning® proactively protects healthcare organizations from emerging legal and privacy threats which include medical identity theft, identity theft, and other forms of healthcare information crimes. FairWarning is industry’s leading best practice solution for automating privacy auditing. The company is located in St. Petersburg, FL, to learn more, visit http://www.fairwarningaudit.com or call U.S. 727 576 6700.


    Did that answer your questions, Mark? Again, thanks for asking.



  3. Thanks for this post. This is really informative. And although this may be true, I do hope that sales go up …

    Air Techniques, Inc


  4. DME Sales Leaders

    A good medical equipment [DME or other] sales leader is a constant teacher, one who is willing to teach and adapt regularly.

    Great sales leaders are aware of their team’s strengths and weaknesses and they take conscious steps to address these. Great sales leaders create one-on-one opportunities to help their team members nurture their personal growth and skill sets. They take the time to lead the team with new learning opportunities. They bring fresh ideas about sales to their teams regularly. They understand that teaching new skills takes commitment—a worthwhile investment in creating great medical salespeople.



  5. EHRs in dentistry simply won’t move forward from here

    A month ago, HHS awarded consulting firm KPMG with a $9.2 million contract to develop the protocols and conduct the HIPAA audits of hospitals and providers (including HIPAA-covered dentists). 150 are to be performed by the end of 2012. What’s more, audits no longer have to be triggered by a complaint – although a disgruntled worker or patient can always increase a dentist’s odds of a site visit by a KPMG auditor working on commission and having a bad morning.

    “Site visits conducted as part of every audit would include interviews with leadership (e.g., CIO, Privacy Officer, legal counsel, health information management/medical records director); examination of physical features and operations; consistency of process to policy, observation of compliance with regulatory requirements.” – OCR HIPAA Audit Protocol and Program Performance, June 20, 2011.


    That hardly sounds like fun I want to buy into.

    HHS stresses that an emphasis will be on enforcing “a culture of compliance.” Translation: Dentists, before an ambitious KPMG inspector with fuzzy teeth pisses you off with questions that obviously have nothing to do with dental care, be alert for other signs in the shared atmosphere that someone in the room probably dislikes you.

    Even in an otherwise free society, nobody can defend against accusations supported by subjectivity such as “a culture of compliance.” So dentists who find themselves in this unfortunate position should be especially respectful to KPMG auditors or risk being capriciously accused of “willful neglect” – which carries the highest HIPAA fines. In addition, one wouldn’t want to attract the attention of their state’s attorney general. According to HITECH, they have the right to file lawsuits for HIPAA violations as well. As a group, State AGs aren’t known to have a sense of humor. And like KPMG auditors, one or more might simply dislike dentists to begin with.

    It’s my hope that eventually, someone will come up with dental software that will circumvent HIPAA by not allowing patients’ Protected Health Information (PHI) to be downloaded. Until that tricky string of coding can be figured out, interoperable EDRs simply will not happen because patients won’t accept EDRs’ danger over paper dental records.

    D. Kellus Pruitt DDS


  6. What’s the EDR de-installation rate?

    Does anyone know how often dentists have to de-install their electronic dental records?

    A few years ago, HIT studies showed that physicians remove their recently-installed EMR systems up to 30% of the time – wasting tens of thousands of dollars that could have otherwise been spent on treating ill people. But unlike for hospital medicine, apparently nobody in the dentalcare IT industry is willing to reveal to dentists the failure rate of their software. I hardly think that means dentists are 100% satisfied. It’s more likely that my leaderless dental profession predictably permits, and even encourages those promoting EDR systems to hide bad news about their products for selfish reasons.

    Since reading about physicians’ unacceptable de-installation rates starting in 2007, I have singled out EDR vendors, salespeople and even well-known stakeholders including ADA Presidents, and publicly asked them point-blank if any have a clue about dentists’ de-installation rate. Even if they don’t know the answer, not one of those who reap profit and/or power from the sale of technology to dentists ever bother to even acknowledge this dentist’s inquiry. Why? Some even censor my concerns to hide them from their other customers. How can the industry-wide deceit, winked at by the ADA, possibly improve patient care?

    Forget about the rudeness, Doc. EDR stakeholders will continue to harm dentists and patients until you and I demand transparency from the good ol’ boys … Sort of like this.

    Any objections?

    D. Kellus Pruitt DDS


  7. Gag clauses and electronic dental records

    “Doctors Say Electronic Medical Record ‘Gag Clauses’ Need To Go”
    By Carey Goldberg, WBUR. April 04, 2019

    Doctors Say Electronic Medical Record ‘Gag Clauses’ Need To Go | Here & Now – wbur.org
    Flaws in the design of electronic records can sometimes add to the risk of medical errors.

    Goldberg: “Nearly all doctors use electronic medical records to keep track of their patients’ care. But flaws in the design of electronic records can sometimes add to the risk of medical errors. Doctors and hospitals can’t always talk about those risks because of ‘gag clauses’ in their contracts with the makers of electronic health records. WBUR’s Carey Goldberg (@goldbergcarey) reports those gags may come off soon.”

    Does anyone know if dentists purchasing EDRs are required to sign gag clauses?

    That would explain a lot.

    Darrell K. Pruitt DDS


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