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The “Selling-Out” of a Profession [Dentistry]?

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Dentistry …?

[By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS]

1-darrellpruittSeveral years ago, a president-elect of the American Dental Association proclaimed, “The electronic health record may not be the result of changes of our choice. They are going to be mandated. No one is going to ask, ‘Do you want to do this?’ No, it’s going to be, ‘You have to do this.’” (ADA News, October 2008).

Looking back, it is easy to recognize the ADA’s renegade capitulation to HHS as a warning sign of things to come.

The ADA is the same national healthcare institution whose leaders joined Delta Dental in persuading dentists to volunteer for HIPAA’s NPI numbers – never revealing what they are to be used for. It’s the same not-for-profit Chicago corporation which continues to protect non-dues revenue by misleading the nation about the “savings and convenience” of EHRs in dentistry. Among all healthcare organizations, the ADA is alone in their enthusiasm for EHRs and Meaningful Use requirements.

And to top it off, the ADA leadership has progressively become less accessible by the community it serves – NEVER entering into open discussions of urgent dental issues on the internet, even to the extent of ending its commitment to answering dental questions for visitors to Dr. Oz’s Sharecare.com. It’s only dentistry for crying out loud!

As a matter of fact, Dr. Maxine Feinberg, the new ADA President, recently suggested in an interview with the ADA’s Judy Jakush that telephone conversations are “The best kept secret of the ADA which members don’t understand.” What?

Dr. Feinberg: “The best-kept secret is that if you have a problem or complaint, you will likely walk away with a positive experience. And, on the rare occasion that the staff can’t help you, there is a good chance that you will speak to Dr. Kathy O’Loughlin, the executive director. That’s amazing customer service.”


Insightful or clueless dentist?


What’s not to understand? I understand that ADA membership numbers have taken a hit over the last few years, but nevertheless, the dues of a little over 150,000 dentists still help pay the salaries of ADA employees. That’s a lot of phone calls that will have to be transferred to the right person (the first time), scheduled to call back later or be completely ignored. Isn’t email, or even the US Mail a better idea? Or is lousy communication (unaccountability) with dentists and patients the goal?

About that NPI number

How do you feel about the ADA leading the effort to assess and report your value to your community without ever stepping into your office or talking with a satisfied patient? When you volunteered for your National Provider Identifier at the insistence of the ADA and Delta Dental, you agreed to CMS terms. What? Nobody mentioned that?:

“Spread the mission of the DQA – The DQA, formed in 2008 through a request from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, is comprised of multiple stakeholders from across the oral health community who are committed to development of consensus-based quality measures.” By Kelly Soderlund for the ADA News, November 3, 2014.

Does “multiple stakeholders” sound as costly to you as it does to me, Doc? I say we already have too many stakeholders. What about the principals (dentists and their patients) who pay the stakeholders’ bills?




Does anyone disagree that DQA looks like the ADA’s desperate mission creep for cash? With the chronic drop in membership, the Chicago corporation has turned to vigorous pursuit of non-dues revenue – probably in the form of federal grants and stimulus money from HHS. The ADA (which prefers clumsy communication via telephone), is asking state and local dental leaders to put their own personal credibility at risk by persuading uninformed dentists to unquestioningly accept multiple stakeholders’ assessment of their value to society – just like clueless dentists cooperated in the NPI effort.

Dr. David Schirmer, chair of the DQA’s education committee, tells ADA News: “Eventually, all of dentistry will need to understand quality measures. But before we reach our grass roots membership, we need our leaders in dentistry to understand.” He adds, “I’m challenging those leaders to pave the way for their younger colleagues and help them understand the long-term impact this will have on dentistry.”

ADA Editor Soderlund: “The DQA has taken the lead on developing quality measures within oral health care. These measures touch every practicing dentist in the United States, and with dentistry, how it’s modeled and how it’s financed changes in the future — specifically as a result of the Affordable Care Act — they’ll become even more prevalent. The mission of the DQA is to advance performance measurement as a means to improve oral health, patient care and safety through a consensus-building process.”

“— specifically as a result of the Affordable Care Act —“ Since you never respond, ADA, how do we know you haven’t sold us out once again for taxpayers’ money?


If it’s difficult for the ADA to hold onto membership now, just wait until the nation’s dentists figure out that Obamacare cannot give everyone A’s on their internet report cards. This means the majority of dentists are going to be pissed at the ADA for their bad grades, no matter what.


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3 Responses

  1. My POV

    My points above also seem to have hit a nerve with a few dentists, eliciting more favorable private responses to unfavorable by a ratio of 3 to 1. That’s never happened before.

    Does this mean the American Dental Association is so desperate for new members that openness with dentists and patients is finally a possibility? It’s only dentistry, you know. So why the secrets?

    If you were an anonymous, shy ADA official struggling to reinforce the obsolete barriers between the not-for-profit and the community, which words would you carefully choose to convince dentists and patients that their interests in oral health don’t justify transparency from the nation’s preeminent dental organization?

    The internet makes it increasingly difficult to ignore the importance of accountability these days.

    “We are waking up and linking to each other. We are watching. But, we are not waiting.” Thesis 95, The Cluetrain Manifesto.

    D. Kellus Pruitt DDS


  2. Google to Punish Dental Websites – SmartBox Web Marketing

    If dentists’ websites don’t display correctly on smartphones, Google will punish them in mobile searches, Colin Receveur says in Patient Attraction Podcast 376.




  3. A difference of opinion of savings and convenience of EHRs
    [Who is right?]

    “Financially struggling hospitals regret EHR replacements – Many say revenue losses outstrip the cost of such initiatives.”
    By Ron Shinkman for FierceHealth Finance
    May 2, 2016.


    Shinkman: “Sixty-two percent of non-managerial IT staff said there was a negative impact on the quality of care being delivered that was directly attributable to the EHR system replacement. And 90 percent of the nurses surveyed said the system eroded their ability to provide care at the same level of effectiveness.”

    On the other hand:

    “EHRs provide long-term savings and convenience,”
    no byline – ADA News
    December 6, 2013.


    Both opinions cannot be correct … So who is wrong?

    (Hint: “Malware-riddled USB drives are nothing new, which is why the ADA’s decision to use them is so disconcerting. Like sharing passwords, connecting untested thumb drives to information systems containing sensitive data like personal health information (PHI) violates the most fundamental rules of InfoSec.”
    See: “ Prognosis Negative for American Dental Association.”
    By Greg Masters
    Managing Editor, SC Magazine).


    Rookie mistake, ADA.

    D. Kellus Pruitt DDS
    CC: American Dental Association


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