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The Absurdity of “Meaningful Use” Requirements in Dentistry

Let’s End the Silence

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

Hey, Doc. How can your silence possibly serve your patients’ best interests?

For my colleagues in the audience who have quietly examined the critical and timely issues I’ve repeatedly offered for discussion – adults with post-graduate degrees who might have briefly considered publicly responding  to what I write, but who still cannot take ownership of an opinion – what on Earth is holding you back? Whatever it is, I say there are only lame, self-serving excuses for dentists to continue to betray patients’ trust. So how does that make you feel, Doc? A little angry maybe? Indignant? Let’s work on that professional nerve a little more. Maybe I’ll get a rise out of you yet.

Where Have You Been? 

As a healthcare provider whose trusting patients depend on you to protect their interests from stakeholders who cannot be held accountable – where have you been? Do you really believe dentists’ stoicism upholds and promotes the ideals of the healing profession? What about the Hippocratic Oath? How?

Or, is your shyness perhaps the manifestation of a character weakness revealing little confidence in your own personal ethics? You can’t blame me if that pisses you off. As long as you are silent, it’s impossible for me to tell a thing about you. So please, feel free to describe how my observations make you feel. You could easily change my opinion by merely speaking up to defend your silence … which promises to be an interesting argument.

ADA Members 

Or, maybe, as an ADA member, or more so a vetted official, professional silliness isn’t your choice at all. Perhaps you are torn between supporting common sense and honesty in your community and a professional dedication to the ADA’s committee-approved slogan “Speaking with one voice.” What looks to me like a cheap PR hack’s piece of art – purchased by either a clueless or nasty-cynical ADA official – is intended to not only keep members in their place as policy, but to also give state and national politicians the impression that all dentists unquestioningly unite behind any and all ADA ideas – sight unseen. (Public discussion of policy with membership is never permitted, even though it’s just dentistry). Elsewhere in the world, that would be called tyranny. It’s also easy to see that “one voice” is a generous exaggeration of our current dental leaders’ influence in Washington.

Stage 2 Meaningful Use

If anonymous leaders who secretly manage a silent profession insulated from the community were the least bit effective at protecting dental patients’ welfare, dentists who actually provide dentistry for the poor wouldn’t be faced with absurd and overwhelming Stage 2 Meaningful Use documentation requirements that will be enforced by CMS in 2012:

  • Record Smoking Status for Patients 13 Years Old or Older
  • Generate Lists of Patients by Specific Condition
  • Check Insurance Eligibility Electronically from Public and Private Payers
  • Submit Claims Electronically to Public and Private Payers
  • Provide Patients with Timely Electronic Access to their Patient Information
  • Computerized provider order entry (CPOE)
  • eRX
  • Record Demographics
  • Record and Chart Vital Sign
  • Patient Reminder
  • Electronic Copies
  • Clinical Summaries
  • Advising Smokers to Quit

Rising Above Politics

As healthcare professionals, our patients depend on us to rise above political correctness and petty, cheap slogans. Indeed, how good is it for healthcare when doctors evade unpopular issues? Can anyone in the audience explain how our patients are better served by PR hacks than dialogue? Anyone?


Face it. The absurdity of Meaningful Use [MU] requirements in dentistry proves that our non-responsive leadership is incapable of protecting our dental patients. From now on, only you and I can do that on our own as individuals. But to make a difference, you must be heard.


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