EHRs, ADA Leaders and Conflict of Interest

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A decade later ….?

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

In July 2007, Dr. Robert H. Ahlstrom, representing the American Dental Association and by default, all US dentists, testified before the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics (NCVHS) on the benefits of EHRs in dentistry.

His testimony is featured in an official document titled:

“Testimony of the American Dental Association, National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics Subcommittee on Standards and Security July 31, 2007

Here are the ADA’s 11 selling points which Dr. Ahlstrom presented to HHS in support of electronic dental records:

  1. Dental office computer systems will be compatible with those of the hospitals and plans they conduct business with. Referral inquiries will be handled easily.
  2. Vendors will be able to supply low-cost software solutions to physicians/dentists who support standards-based electronic data interchange. Costs associated with mailing, faxing and telephoning will decrease.
  3. All administrative tasks can be accomplished electronically. Dentists will have more time to devote to direct care.
  4. Dentists will have a more complete data set of the patient they are treating, enabling better care.
  5. Patients seeking information on enrollment status or health care benefits will be given more accurate, complete and easier-to-understand information.
  6. Consumer documents will be more uniform and easier to read.
  7. Cost savings to providers and plans will translate in less costly health care for consumers. Premiums and charges will be lowered.
  8. Patients will save postage and telephone costs incurred in claims follow-up.
  9. Patients will have the ability to see what is contained in their medical and dental records and who has accessed them. Patient records will be adequately protected through organizational policies and technical security controls.
  10. Visits to dentists and other health care providers will be shorter without the burden of filling out forms.
  11. Consumer correspondence with insurers about problems with claims will be reduced.

Not one of Ahlstrom’s 11 promises has been fulfilled. None …. Total failure!

A decade later, it has become clear that the nation was misled by ambitious leaders of the American Dental Association who have since enjoyed power and/or profit from members’ misinformed adoption of digital records.



 In my opinion, the grandest deception in the history of dentistry is clearly a result of a secretive not-for-profit corporation’s conflict of interest. This very important business lesson would have been lost to history if I hadn’t been documenting the true progress of EHRs in dentistry.

I (alone?) recognized very early that paperless was doomed simply because the needs of dentists and their patients was secondary to implementation of third-parties’ half-baked, selfish ideas. And I got spanked for that by the same ADA leadership behind Ahlstrom’s tainted testimony to Congress.

My ADA membership was suspended, and I still have not been told why. All the President of the Texas Dental Association would tell me is, “You know what you did.”


To this day, dental EHRs are both increasingly less secure than paper dental records as well as increasingly more expensive. What’s more, they offer no tangible benefits for the patients. ADA leadership failed my profession.

Transparency is accountability.


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2 Responses

  1. We failed our patients

    Ready to return to paper records, Doc? What will you do when your patients insist?

    Americans are quickly becoming aware that dental EHRs offer them NO TANGIBLE BENEFITS over paper. EHRs increase the cost of dentistry along with the mortal danger of medical identity theft. Is there anyone out there who still disputes the facts? I didn’t think so.

    “Analysis: Top Health Data Breaches So Far in 2017 – Federal Tally Shows Continued Uptick in Hacking Incidents” By Marianne Kolbasuk McGee (HealthInfoSec), July 3, 2017.

    Mac McMillan, president of security consulting firm CynergisTek tells GovInfoSecurity, “I believe we will, as the pace of these attacks is increasing, and the targets are not just the big systems. The smaller organizations are more susceptible, as many of them have fewer resources for security, are more likely to have older systems no longer supported, and less sophisticated detection and alert capabilities.”

    That’s us, Doc. Dentists’ EHRs undeniably put dental patients’ lives at increased risk over paper dental records, and for what? Dentists’ convenience? Americans will not accept that. Nor should they. They should be mad as hell at their dentists for failing to protect them. “First, do no harm.”

    McMillan warns: “I do not see any abatement in the hacking incidents we’re seeing right now. As long as they are successful, as long as organizations pay the ransom, bad actors will continue carry out their attacks.”

    So what do anonymous ADA News reporters have to say about it? “EHRs provide long-term savings and convenience.” No byline, ADA News, December 6, 2013.

    The failure is our fault, Doc. We simply lost control of our American Dental Association and greed prevailed.

    D. Kellus Pruitt DDS


  2. You mean EHR vendors can’t be trusted?
    (I was right all along)

    “Healthcare pros more suspicious of all EHR vendors after eClinicalWorks scandal – With the Department of Justice expected to widen its false claims probe, 35 percent of healthcare insiders say trust in all electronic health records vendors is waning.” By Tom Sullivan for HealthcareIT News, July 12, 2017.

    Nobody likes to talk about being scammed, but dishonesty in the dental EHR industry is nothing new.

    For example: Henry Schein, maker of Dentrix, was fined $250,000 in 2016 by the FTC for advertising encryption of its practice management software – which Homeland Security described as “weak obfuscation.” (See: “Vulnerability Note VU#900031 Faircom c-treeACE database weak obfuscation algorithm vulnerability … Thanks to Justin Shafer for reporting this vulnerability.” – Homeland Security, June 10, 2013).

    Months after receiving the notice, Dentrix customers were still being told the software was encrypted. They lied… hence the FTC.

    Unlike elsewhere in the free market, very few in the dental community seem to mind being scammed by software vendors’ dishonesty. And there is only one dentist that I know of who finds sport in exposing EHR stakeholders’ poor ethics for all to see. My pleasure.

    D. Kellus Pruitt DDS


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