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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

http://www.ncvhs.hhs.gov/070731p08.pdf

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.”

Assessment 

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.

Conclusion

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***

Why patients will soon prefer paper dental records?

Read for yourself why dental patients will soon prefer paper-based over paperless

[By Kellus Pruitt DDS]

Recently, Marianne Kolbasuk McGee (HealthInfoSec) posted, “Analysis: Are HHS Cybersecurity Recommendations Achievable? Experts Sort Through New Task Force Report.”

http://www.healthcareinfosecurity.com/analysis-are-hhs-cybersecurity-recommendations-achievable-a-9971

McGee: 

“A new Department of Health and Human Services report to Congress containing more than 100 recommendations for how healthcare can better address cybersecurity threats is stirring debate over whether smaller organizations will be able to take the recommended actions.”

Cha-ching!

Privacy attorney David Holtzman, vice president of compliance at the consultancy CynergisTek, tells Healthinfosec:

“The majority of information systems that create or maintain personally identifiable health information are owned and managed by small organizations whose capability or access to the people or technology to secure information systems is limited by financial constraints or ability to attract well-trained human resources,” he says. “At first glance, it is difficult to see how these small organizations can translate the recommendations in the report into tangible progress.”

As large, juicy healthcare organizations successfully harden their cyber-defenses, small healthcare entities – like dental offices – will attract identity thieves with smaller, juicy low-hanging fruit.

Or, as suggested in the article, taxpayers can subsidize cyber-protection for dentists and other small healthcare organizations. In my opinion, that simply won’t happen.

***

***

Wary dental patients – many of whom have received breach notifications or have learned about identity theft the hard way – will find it increasingly easy to find a new dentist who does not put their identities on computers. After all, electronic dental records offer dental patients no tangible benefits anyway.

Assessment

If dental patients’ identities are unavailable, they cannot be stolen …. Still too early for de-identification, Doc? Give it time. I’ve got patience. 

***

***

Conclusion

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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?

***

eHRs

***

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?

Assessment

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.

Conclusion

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The Benefits of Dentistry Unhurried

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And Medicine, too?

[By Kellus Pruitt DDS]

1-darrellpruittThe hidden truth about managed care dentistry: Unhurried dentistry is generally of higher quality than hurried dentistry; anyone up to challenging this economic law?

Dental Handiwork

Dental care includes intricate handwork performed to exacting tolerances in sensitive mouths of nervous patients. When dentists compete on discounts (fast dentistry) instead of quality (slow dentistry), fear of bankruptcy fuels the race to the bottom with clueless, vulnerable patients.

 “‘Slow medicine’ strikes a chord – Nearly 500 people — doctors, nurses and ordinary people with an interest in health care — attended a forum Thursday to hear Dr. Victoria Sweet, a physician and author, talk about how ‘slow medicine’ could improve the quality of life of patients. Sweet is Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at University of California, San Francisco.”

Melinda Morales for the Visalia Times-Delta

[Visalia, California – October 16, 2014]

http://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/story/news/local/2014/10/17/slow-medicine-strikes-chord/17400861/

Morales writes: “When Sweet told the audience she had once wondered to herself, ‘If I could do one thing to improve the quality of health care, what would it be?’ and then followed it up with her solution, ‘I would put time back into the hands of physicians,’ the audience burst into applause.”

***

Insightful or clueless dentist?

***

Enjoy the Teeth

Dentistry is far more enjoyable for all concerned when it is not rushed in order to squeeze out a profit from unsustainable pay offered by unaccountable, conniving discount dentistry brokers … like CIGNA.

“Cigna to launch rating system that ADA calls scientifically flawed – Cigna will launch in 2015 what it calls a cost-effectiveness designation program that rates in-network dentists based on cost and utilization patterns. These ratings will appear as stars within Cigna’s provider directory. According to Cigna, dentists who receive a three-star rating have a fee schedule that results in greater potential cost savings within their geographical area.”

Kelly Soderlund

[ADA News, October 13, 2014]

http://www.ada.org/en/publications/ada-news/2014-archive/october/cigna-launches-rating-system-that-ada-calls-scientifically-flawed

Good reporting, ADA News

This isn’t the first time CIGNA has been busted for selling intentionally misinformed, captive patients discount healthcare with no quality control – depriving Americans of the opportunity to choose providers which most patients prefer. Seven years ago, CIGNA and other insurers were reprimanded for employing Ingenix, UnitedHealth Group’s wholly-owned ranking algorithm designed to drive clients from out-of-network providers to cheaper in-network providers:

“Attorney General Cuomo Announces Agreement With Cigna Creating A New National Model For Doctor Ranking Programs – NEW YORK, NY (October 29, 2007) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced an agreement with one of the nation’s largest health insurers, CIGNA HealthCare (NYSE: CI), as part of his industry-wide investigation into doctor ranking programs. Under the agreement, CIGNA will enhance its doctor ranking program, fully disclosing to consumers and physicians all aspects of its ranking system. Additionally, CIGNA will retain an oversight monitor known as a Ratings Examiner (‘Rx’) who will oversee compliance with all aspects of the agreement and will report to the Attorney General every six months.”

Eric T. Schneiderman

[Office of Current NY State Attorney General]

http://www.ag.ny.gov/press-release/attorney-general-cuomo-announces-agreement-cigna-creating-new-national-model-doctor

See also, “UnitedHealth Group Shenanigans – Ingenix’s Lack of Independence”

Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA

[Medical Executive-Post, January 16, 2009]

https://medicalexecutivepost.com/2009/01/16/unitedhealth-group-shenanigans/

As you can see, history reveals that Cuomo fruitlessly reminded CIGNA that price is only one variable in “cost-effectiveness.” As dentists and their patients know, correcting careless mistakes is always more costly than doing the job right the first time with the best materials for reasonable pay.

***

slow down

***

CIGNA Speaks

Cigna spokeswoman Karen Eldred tells ADA News,

“Cigna remains committed to introducing enhancements to the mycigna.com’s dental network directory that provide customers with cost [but not quality] transparency and insights when using their dental benefits.”

If anyone in the ADA is allowed to consider non-member dentists’ advice, I would recommend publicly confronting CIGNA with an easy to document comparison of the popularity of CIGNA’s one, two and three star, cost-effective dentists with competitors using doctoroogle.com – arguably the most transparent dentist-rating site in the nation.

http://texas.doctoroogle.com/

Anyone who is interested in performing the simple, consumer-friendly study is almost certain to discover a direct correlation between the amount of time dentists can afford to invest in their work and their preference by patients in the community.

More:

Assessment

Have you ever experienced a cost-effective injection of local anesthetic?

Hurried Care?

Conclusion

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EHRs – AMA versus ADA

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Will Electronic Health Records Ever Be Usable?

[By Darrell K. Pruitt DDS]

1-darrellpruittThe American Medical Association

The AMA attempts to address the frustration EHRs create, especially for doctors and other healthcare workers. ‘It’s easy to use, once you know where everything is,’ the instructor said during an EHR training session I recently attended.

Most EHR companies seem to believe this is an acceptable way to design software. EHR usability has been greatly ignored by vendors, and last week the American Medical Association issued eight usability priorities in an attempt to address the issue.

This directive comes as a result of a joint study by the RAND Corporation and the AMA highlighting EHRs as a significant detractor from physicians’ professional satisfaction.” Commentary by Stephanie Kreml for InformationWeek, September 26, 2014.

http://www.informationweek.com/healthcare/electronic-health-records/will-electronic-health-records-ever-be-usable/a/d-id/1316071

The American Dental Association

On the other hand, “EHRs provide long-term savings and convenience,” no byline, ADA News, December 6, 2013.

http://www.ada.org/en/publications/ada-news/2013-archive/december/ehrs-provide-long-term-savings-convenience

boxing-gloves-1053702

[POW – SPLAT – BIFF – UGH]

More:

  1. The Percentage of Office-Based Doctors with EHRs
  2. Do Nurses like EHRs?
  3. EHRs – Still Not Ready For Prime Time
  4. The “Price” of eHRs
  5. Borges versus Kvedar Video eHR Debate

EHRs versus the Federal Government

Government mandated EHRs – what a waste!

“Doctors, Hospitals Went Digital, But Still Can’t Share Records – After spending billions to switch from paper to digital records — much of it taxpayer subsidized through the economic stimulus package — providers say the systems often do not share information with competitors.”

[Kaiser Health News, October 1, 2014]

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Daily-Reports/2014/October/01/marketplace.aspx

Conclusion

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How I Lost my Battle Against the NPI

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Refusing a National Provider Identifier Number

By Darrell K. Pruitt DDS

pruittI can no longer refuse to apply for a National Provider Identifier (NPI). I lost that long battle. Anyone rejoicing?

I’m spent. My leverage has vanished. Telling insurers “I have no NPI” held much more inherent power than “I have an NPI but I won’t share it with you on principle.” Far too many words. My profession has become dominated by unresponsive, unaccountable 3rd parties that dental leaders in the ADA welcome as policy. Working together, they promote and commandeer the technology dentists purchase and clueless patients pay for in increased fees. I have painfully learned that principles are only for dentists who can still afford them, and it’s a bad economy for luxuries.

Non-HIPAA Entity

Since I am not a HIPAA-covered entity and therefore not required by law to adopt an NPI, my capitulation to extortion disappoints me as an American citizen. I still find it hard to believe that an anti-consumer HIPAA rule enthusiastically enforced by the dental benefits industry could force me to “volunteer” for a PERMANENT identifier. As I and 96% of dentists become jerked around by our NPIs, I hope dental historians note that I am the ONLY dentist who publicly asked “Why?” instead of “Why not?” After 6 years, I’m still awaiting an answer to that question from leaders who continue to promote the NPI to dentists while ignoring their questions.

Dental Benefits Providers

I was able to hold out up until Aetna, Delta Dental and other dental benefits providers deprived my office of access to details of patients’ dental benefits unless I have an NPI. I’m waiting for someone – anyone – to tell me how the identifier can possibly improve the dental care of those who pay Aetna and Delta Dental premiums, especially if their benefits are intentionally kept secret from their dentists. I am certain that if the nation’s employers who purchase dental benefits were aware of the transparent nonsense, they would never purchase such products. Where’s the US Chamber of Commerce? Where’s the FTC? How about the US Constitution?

This is exactly why there needs to be more openness in our profession, Doc. The cockroaches who were invited to quietly overrun dentistry cannot withstand transparency, yet I don’t know how much longer I can fight for it without further risking the health of my practice.

As anyone can understand – and as anticipated by corporate executives in the insurance industry as well as by those with vested interests in the ADA Department of Dental Informatics – to have to explain to new patients why I cannot estimate how much they will owe for treatment would destroy my practice. Outside the US, other societies deem it unethical to deny patients informed consent to treatment for any reason. The NPI is such an egregious blunder that I never expect those who promoted to accept ownership.

###

NPI

Assessment

If I lost the battle, who won? Do EDR enthusiasts in the ADA call this a glorious victory and a likely source of ADA pride for decades to come? Or is it much more shameful? Since I lost freedom, I want to know who won?

Conclusion

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Transparency Emerges in Dentistry

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Cavities Blamed on Patients

[By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS]

If your car repeatedly requires costly repairs because you never change the oil, would you blame your mechanic?

PBS Frontline

Dentists are justifiably upset because the recent PBS Frontline documentary “Dollars and Dentists” blames them for our nation’s deteriorating oral health.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/dollars-and-dentists/

When in reality, good oral hygiene habits are the very basics of personal accountability – reinforced by painful and embarrassing lessons as needed.

Tradition Dentists Usually Silent

Traditionally, dentists seldom speak up. But at a time when they are finding it difficult to keep their chairs filled, even by discounting their fees, “Dollars and Dentists” struck an inflamed nerve – causing dentists to publicly react in defense of the profession like never before.

As an example, here is Dr. Alan Mead’s blunt response which he posted for his patients to read on his Mead Family Dental website:

“If you have dental problems, it’s mostly your fault. And if you want to have less dental problems, it’s your responsibility. It’s not the fault of the dental insurance company. It’s not the government’s responsibility. It’s on you.”

http://meadfamilydental.com/2012/07/preventable/

Responses

According to other responses, apparently far fewer blameless people are born with “soft teeth” than one might be led to believe by people with lots of cavities. Dentists have politely, but futilely reminded people for decades that it’s refined sugar, bacteria and poor brushing habits that rots teeth.

Assessment

I think the demand for truth in healthcare is going to continue. Over the next few months watch for one or more recognized leaders in the dental profession to actually mention the word “transparency” for the first time since 2008 when an ADA President-elect candidate from California used the word in his campaign platform. He lost. But now that dentists are finally becoming sufficiently annoyed by reporters’ broad accusations of greed and malfeasance, it could be interesting to watch the predictable emergence from obscurity of this perky little healthcare niche – one agitated dentist at a time.

Conclusion

If openness were popular, someone would have long ago told Grandpa his breath smells like death.

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On the Protecting Access to Healthcare (PATH) Act

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ADA Makes Progress Against McCarran-Ferguson

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

The ADA makes real progress against McCarran-Ferguson. I’ve watched the American Dental Association fight long and hard against the unfair McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945. ADA leaders and I still don’t agree on the need for transparency in the professional organization instead of proud unresponsiveness, but nevertheless, I’ve always been publicly supportive of their efforts to repeal the M-F Act.

Insurance Industry

The insurance industry is powerful in Washington. Over the short term, common sense has proven to be far less influential than their generous campaign contributions – making this a long haul for ADA officials. Yet the amendment to H.R. 5, Protecting Access to Healthcare (PATH) Act, which was offered by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), a dentist, is finally scheduled to come up for a vote on Thursday, March 22, 2012

Good Work – ADA

http://www.ada.org/news/6926.aspx

If passed, the legislation will restore the application of antitrust laws to the business of health insurance. Makes sense, right? After all, if every other business in the nation, including professional organizations, can be prosecuted by the FTC for collusion, why should Delta Dental, BCBSTX and other members of the National Association of Dental Plans (NADP) be exempt from antitrust laws which protect their clients.

I and others are hopeful that this will end many of dental insurers’ current business practices which unfairly force dentists to accept take it or leave it terms that would be unacceptable in a fair market. Maybe the repeal will also make insurance lawyers think twice before alerting the FTC when ADA News speaks honestly about the harm caused by suspiciously similar policies of numerous NADP members.

Assessment

Even if the M-F is repealed, here is an example of truth in dental care that I bet ADA leaders still won’t be able to share with Americans: Unfair downward pressure on contracted dentists’ payments always hurts clueless dental patients the most. Delta Dental’s greed will never be satisfied and dentists’ ethics aren’t free.

NADP, meet the FTC.

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Don’t Co-operate with eDR Vendors, Doc!

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My Opinion of eDRs and eDR  Vendors

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

Don’t cooperate with those you don’t trust, Doc.

eDR Stakeholders

If you allow Dentrix, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, the ADA and other ambitious EDR stakeholders talk you into switching from paper dental records to digital before 2014, it will be the most regrettable business decision you have ever made.

PHI Breaches

Regardless if a data breach of your patients’ Protected Health Information (PHI) is your fault or not, it can easily cause bankruptcy, and the odds aren’t in your favor. According to a recent Redspin study, the number of breaches doubled between 2010 and 2011. (See “Health data breaches up 97% in 2011” by Diana Manos in Healthcare IT News, February 1, 2012).

http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/health-data-breaches-97-percent-2011

Procrastination and Late Adopters

So even if unlike Americans who enjoy freedom, professionalism keeps you from publicly expressing an opinion, there’s never been a better time to drag your feet in our usual way. Besides, what have you got to lose by waiting? If consumers prefer EDRs, don’t you think we would see dentists touting their safety in their ads?

RedSpin

Daniel W. Berger, President and CEO of Redspin, is quoted in Diana Manos’ article: “Information security breach is the Achilles’ heel of PHI. Without further protective measures, data breaches will continue to increase and could derail the implementation, adoption and usage of electronic health records.” So why allow selfish EDR stakeholders who cannot be held accountable for harming your patients rush you into buying their favorite technology?

Note that the ineffective “further protective measures” will make EDRs even more expensive compared to paper dental records – allowing paper dentists to charge less than paperless practices, while still making more profit. Indeed, Doc. What have you got to lose by waiting?

Over the last 6 years, virtually all of my predictions about HIPAA have been right, and following the recent Redspin report, I feel even stronger about this one: The national failure of HIPAA will become noticeable in dentistry first.

OCR Culture

Not only is the Rule ineffective at protecting dental patients’ identities, but the tedious, mostly worthless compliancy requirements are so unreasonably time consuming and costly that no dentist can ever be 100% compliant. What’s more, eager HIPAA auditors working on commission to enforce the Office of Civil Rights’ “culture of compliance,” can find a dentist “willfully negligent.” Is that not subjective? The fines for such an auditor’s opinion are obscene. If you unfortunately experience a data breach, you don’t want to lose even more sleep over an audit that you cannot win, do you? Dentists don’t have to take this.

Dentistry Is Billing Simple

Unlike the complex administrative tasks in physicians’ offices, the business of dentistry is simple: Billing involves ten times fewer patients and CDT codes cover fees for procedures only involving the lower third of patients’ faces. Ledger cards, pegboards and lots of carbon paper have functioned adequately and safely for busy dental practices for decades. Besides, computers still haven’t shortened the time it takes to do a technique-sensitive filling in a squirmy kid’s mouth. If the front desk is the bottleneck rather than the speed of the dentist’s hands, someone needs to brush up on their alphabet skills.

If you think you might miss your computer, now is a perfect time to encourage dentistry’s leaders to consider de-identifying EDRs… Or if like me, you aren’t a HIPAA covered entity, we could wait a little longer if you’d like. Within a year, Americans will be noticeably seeking dentists who don’t put their PHI on computers.

Assessment

The hope for miracle discoveries derived from safely data-mining interoperable dental data doesn’t have to end like this, but I certainly don’t mind the windfall profits that expensive HIPAA regulations and patients’ fear of identity theft will bring to my practice.

Conclusion

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The Healthcare Industry’s Unrecognized Cancer

The Untreated Cancer of Health Informatics Leads to Painful and Unrestrained Growth

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

A few days ago, Daniel Palestrant MD, Founder of par8o & SERMO, compared the American healthcare system to a patient with cancer.

The clinically blunt article includes a graphic photo of a fresh tumor the size of a cantaloupe, labeled “AMA.” It is appropriately titled, “I Know Cancer When I See It.”

I believe him. What’s more, Dr. Palestrant shows no respect for cancerous growth in healthcare. That’s Hippocratic cool.

http://par8o.com/wordpress/i-know-cancer-when-i-see-it/

I think we all know which presidential candidate’s think tank is to blame for selfishly stimulating metastasis of their harmful information. Like the American Medical Association, the ADA unwittingly developed informatics cancer years ago. Now, a similar, energy-sapping tumor is becoming increasingly difficult for stoic ADA officials to quietly schlepp around.

My Dental Analogy

If one replaces every mention of “AMA” in Dr. Palestrant’s excerpt below with “ADA,” every “CPT® code” with “CDT® code” and every “physician” with “dentist,” his analogy becomes strikingly similar to one I wore out long ago, but without an ugly photo (My apology to Dr. Palestrant):

1. Divert resources – The ADA’s CDT system creates a maze of payment infrastructure and rules that diverts resources to administration and makes transparency impossible.

2. Fool the immune system – The ADA has fooled the American public into believing they represent the opinion of America’s dentists.

3. Self perpetuate – Like a cancer, the ADA perpetuates itself through special interest lobbying, and most importantly, by updating the CDT codes as frequently as possible and forcing the entire dentalcare system to use them.

Assessment

If it weren’t for CDT® copyright royalties, ADA members’ dues would double – undoubtedly causing members to naturally demand better accountability to their patients’ welfare instead of HIT goals even Newt Gingrich abandoned a few months ago.

He’s a smart politician – arguably smarter than dentistry’s embarrassed leaders who own autographed photos of him.

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On Open Letter to Dental Economics

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Fun on a Slow Day [will that be paper or electrons?]

[By Darrell K. Pruitt DDS]

As anyone following the ME-P knows by now, Dental Economics’ officials have been suspiciously unhelpful in locating experts capable of responding to concerns about the cost and safety of EHRs in dentistry – quite the opposite.

The CR Foundation

In addition, Dr. Gordon Christensen’s CR Foundation has also suspiciously avoided discussion of EDRs with this dentist. Nevertheless, I’m certain that like most other EDR stakeholders, employees of DE and CRF at least secretly agree that this consumer has tolerated good ol’ boy behavior in the marketplace far longer than any vendor anywhere else in the free world could ever expect – no matter how important.

Dentrix, too!

At some point, Dental Economics, CR Foundation and Dentrix will either have to answer at least one dentist’s sincere questions about EDRs or censor me from their Facebooks. Over time, not-anonymous censorship would be second only to anonymous censorship as the worst possible choice. If I’m given the opportunity, I’ll prove it.

As readers can tell, sometimes on slow days, even silence from rude people who profit off of my profession irritates me – causing me to want to grab them by the attentions. I’m feeling especially itchy today, so I also posted the following on Dental Economics Facebook:

Dear Dental Economics:

If the AMA finally admits that EHRs are a poor substitute for thinking, don’t you agree it’s time for shy stakeholders in dentistry to accept ownership of their products’ weaknesses? And for other stakeholders to either help me or get out of the damn way?

“EHRs Linked to Errors, Harm, AMA Says — Clinicians can introduce errors when they copy and paste sensitive patient data into electronic health records, according to AMA research.”

http://www.informationweek.com/news/healthcare/EMR/232400325

Or, do you think if dentists remain silent like good little professionals, those who profit from EDRs and related advertisements will suddenly become honest with our patients? I’m not that optimistic. I think if interoperable EDRs are ever to succeed, dentists must pester the unresponsive leaders even while hangers-on would shield them for their own selfish reasons. For example, dentists are unlikely to ever read in Dental Economics the following hints of the imminent failure of EHRs in dentistry: 96% of EHR systems have been breached in the last 2 years and the frequency of breaches rose 32% in the last year – costing over $6.5 billion. The fantasy is over, DE. It’s becoming increasingly difficult for even stakeholders to get giddy about EDRs.

Once the high risks of identity theft from dental offices can no longer be suppressed by stakeholders, our patients’ trust will be forever lost – just to protect the most selfish of people in the healthcare industry from accountability.

Where are you Dentrix?

And what’s the opinion of your CRF investigators, Dr. Gordon Christensen? Are EDRs cheaper than paper dental records or not? As you know, a few months ago your former CEO stated in an article on Dentistry iQ that EDRs offer dentists a “high return on investment,” yet failed to produce evidence supporting his incredible claim.

http://www.dentaleconomics.com/index/display/article-display/2974000845/articles/dental-economics/volume-101/issue-10/features/digital-dentistry-is-this-the-future-of-dentistry.html

Regardless of an institution’s reputation and market share, deceiving doctors and patients for personal gain is just wrong.

Since the misleading statement from the influential CEO has never been corrected, his lie which is still featured on Dentistry iQ continues to harm naïve dentists and clueless patients – but not without the help of 8 Dental Economics editors who voted the CEO’s article as a tie for the “Most important story for the dental profession in 2011.”

http://www.dentistryiq.com/index/display/article-display/9721317527/articles/dentisryiq/hygiene-department/2011/12/best-of_2011_articles.html

Assessment

Way to go, Dental Economics editors! Any of you have enough confidence to discuss why you chose the former CEO’s article? I think your readers would like to hear your reasons. I certainly would. What could it hurt?

Conclusion

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The Americans with Disabilities Act and Deaf Patients

Interpreting … the Interpreter

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QUERY:

I understand that as doctors we need to accommodate the disabled and follow the ADA of 1990. In the case of hearing-impaired patients, it is our cost to have an interpreter present.

But, for example, is the doctor able to dictate what interpreter will be used or does the patient decide who will be interpreting? As far as the charge for the services of the interpreter, how is the appropriate fee set?

It takes about twenty minutes for us to see a hearing-impaired patient. We are told from the interpreting service that it is their policy to charge us for a minimum of two hours.

Any thoughts?

Assessment

Link:  http://www.ada.gov/pubs/ada.htm

Conclusion

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Medical Identity Theft on the Rise

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Open Up Dentists – and Physicians, Too!

[By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS]

If I tell you that your patients’ insurance identities can be sold for $50 each, how much will you trust your employees on Monday, Doc?

The Experts Speak

According to a panel of cyber-security experts at a recent Digital Health Conference, medical identity theft has become one of the most lucrative forms of identity theft. “DHC: EHR Data Target for Identity Thieves” by MedPage Today Associate Staff Writer Cole Petrochko, was posted last week

http://www.medpagetoday.com/PracticeManagement/InformationTechnology/30074

“Presentations at the Digital Health Conference here indicated that a single patient’s electronic health records can fetch $50 on the black market — a much fatter target than more familiar forms of identity theft, such as Social Security numbers ($3), credit card information ($1.50), date of birth ($3), or mother’s maiden name ($6).”

eMRs Not Like Credit-Cards

“And, unlike a credit card number, patients’ healthcare records cannot be cancelled or changed to prevent stolen data from being used by criminals”, said John DeLuca, of EMC Corp., an information technology company.

The Street Value of eDRs 

What do you want to bet that medical identities downloaded from dentists’ computers bring $50; as well. I’d like to share a special, visceral sentiment with my shy, HIPAA covered colleagues:

I warned you, damn it! And, I assume, just like virtually all other silent dentists in the nation, you’ve done NOTHING to safeguard your patients’ identities. Even if you don’t like truth served bluntly, this dentist has your reputation in mind when I warn that if your practice experiences a reportable data breach of over 500 records, and your patients’ identities aren’t encrypted, those who choose to remain with your practice will never trust you as much as they do today – even if you properly report the breach. Of the estimated 20% who will never return, many will probably look for a gentle dentist who doesn’t store patients’ Protected Health Information (PHI) on computers …. Like me. (Yea, that was a sales pitch. As one might expect, I certainly welcome discussion of it with anyone).

ADA Laggards 

After 5 years of awaiting responses from unaccountable leaders inside and outside the American Dental Association concerning HIPAA and EDRs, It feels really good to aggravate 9 out of 10 dentists still reading this – challenging those who normally take offense with professional stoicism to loosen up and share their feelings with everyone for once … God help me, I do love this so.

More About the Black Market 

The black market price for EHRs has increased ten-fold in the last 5 years. In 2006, I warned in a guest column on WTN that it only takes one dishonest employee needing a couple of thousand quick dollars to potentially bankrupt a practice almost without risk of being caught. Back then, the black market price for a stolen medical identity was estimated at only $5 (See: “Careful with that electronic health record, Mr. Leavitt,” WTN News, October 18, 2006).

http://wtnnews.com/articles/3407/

It’s no secret that reticent ADA officials like President-elect Dr. Robert Faiella have suspiciously failed in their duty to be transparent with dues-paying members about the liabilities of the EHRs – even as they continue to recklessly promote paperless practices. The result: Almost all dentists in theUSstill maintain patients’ unencrypted medical identities on their office computers – often guarded by a flimsy password that is still cute a decade later. (Did I hear a gasp?).

Consider This!

Consider this, Doc! If a practice has 3000 active patients with identities worth $150,000, all one dishonest employee needs for dreams to come true is a flash drive and private time with your computer.

Assessment

Show me a dentist who thinks the benefits of EHRs to dental patients still outweigh the liabilities and I’ll show you a dangerously naive healthcare provider who probably doesn’t know about KPMG Auditors. Let’s face the facts bravely, Doc. Now would be a terrible time to invest in an EDR system – even cloud based. The proven, avoidable danger EDRs bring to American dental patients is unacceptable and only getting worse. Give it a year or so.

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Conclusion

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The Texas Dental Association Board Must Face the Truth

More on NPI Numbers

[By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS]

Dear Past TDA Board Members

I have some questions similar to the ones that got me suspended from the TDA a year ago: Who among you can defend your decision to persuade trusting TDA members to volunteer for National Provider Identifier (NPI) numbers?

And, why did you give up on the effort while BCBSTX continues to unfairly force dentists who aren’t even HIPAA covered entities to adopt the identifiers?

If you’re still unaware that everyone can see TDA leaders allowed themselves to be manipulated by stakeholders like BCBSTX, prepare yourself. It won’t be long before at least a few TDA members blame you personally for the bad things I warned would come to dentists with NPI numbers. Since the identifier does nothing to improve the quality of care, its promotion cannot be reconciled with the mission statement of the TDA, leaders. I hope angry dentists throughout the state seek the names of those of you who misled them.

A Non-Profit 

BCBSTX is a non-profit whose handsome profits are paid by taxpayers. The healthcare parasite sells dental insurance to theUSgovernment for federal employees. In their letter to me that I’ve attached, you can see for yourself that along with BCBSTX’s stated refusal to process any of their clients’ dental claims that come from my office, it says in capital letters, “DO NOT FORWARD THIS NOTIFICATION TO THE MEMBER!” How proud does it make you feel to know BCBSTX defines your level of ethics, TDA Board? Two years ago, your Director of Membership censored from the TDA Facebook this dentist’s criticism of BCBSTX’s NPI demands. Sometimes, you bozos are idiots.

I have no contractual relationship with BCBSTX, so as soon as could, I defied BCBSTX’s order and sent their client the letter – making sure to point out that BCBSTX ordered me to keep it secret from her. As you might expect, she’s pissed at BCBSTX! I hope she looks into a class action lawsuit. I bet BCBSTX has been secretly extorting their customers’ dentists by the thousands … but then, do you even care, TDA? What did BCBSTX offer the TDA that caused you to betray dentists and patients who used to have faith in your honesty?

BCBSTX is a Tyrant, and the TDA is an Enabler

There’s more: As a favor to our patients, my office has traditionally called their insurers for coverage information so that those who purchased the dental benefits will know how much of the bill they are responsible for before we start treatment. It’s called transparency.

Today, my office manager informed me that according to alerts she has received from insurers, if I don’t “volunteer” for a National Provider Identifier (NPI) number by 2012, my office will be deprived of the right to product information about BCBSTX’s plans. How does that help anyone, TDA?

Assessment 

Were you aware that this was the purpose of the NPI number when you pushed TDA members to sign up? Do you even care? Because of your silence inTexas’ dental community, it’s really hard to tell.

Conclusion

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Medical [Dental] Anti-Defamation Contracts and Doctor Accountability

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Was the ADA Complicit?

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

If you were to walk into my dental office with a toothache, and I told you that before I relieve your pain, you have to agree not to say bad things about me on the internet, how badly would the tooth have to be hurting to keep you from walking out the door?

The article, “Toothache lawsuit may stifle medical gag orders against online rants”, by JoNel Aleccia, was posted yesterday on MSN.com.

http://vitals.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/11/30/9124107-toothache-lawsuit-may-stifle-medical-gag-orders-against-online-rants

The Patient

“[Robert Lee, 42] who had a bad toothache has filed a class-action lawsuit against his New York dentist after she required him to sign a contract promising not to trash-talk her online — and then fined him thousands of dollars trying to enforce it.”

Aleccia adds: “[Dr. Stacy Makhnevich] was among hundreds of medical professionals nationwide in recent years who refused to care for patients unless they signed anti-defamation contracts. In the contracts, the doctors and dentists promised not to evade federal patient privacy protections in exchange for patients’ agreeing not to post public comments about them.”

The Dentist

Other than its obvious ineffectiveness for this particular Manhattan dentist, whose practice is on the 69 th. floor of the Chrysler Building, Lexington Avenue at East 42St., (212) 697-4400, what’s wrong with this business plan?

First of all, aside from the insult, if a dentist required you to sign a contract forfeiting your right to express your opinion about the quality of care even before being seen, how confident would it make you feel about the doctor’s abilities?

The HIPAA Question

Then there’s HIPAA. It’s sad that healthcare providers on the 69th.  floor of the Chrysler Building would take advantage of vulnerable Americans who don’t understand that their right to privacy isn’t something that can be withheld – even as part of a twisted “copyright” deal intended to enable a dentist to dodge accountability. It seems to me like the Office of Civil Rights as well as the Attorney General should be alerted. How is threatening a patient’s privacy in return for direly-needed treatment different than extortion?

The Gotcha!

Mr. Lee had forgotten the contract until months later when he allegedly discovered that Dr. Makhnevich had overcharged him by about $4,000, improperly filed the insurance and then refused to provide him with the documents he needed to file the claim himself. That’s when he started posting rants on sites like Yelp and DoctorBase, such as, “Avoid at all cost! Scamming their customers!” and “Honestly, how do you live with yourself? Just try being a decent human being.”

“Within days, Makhnevich demanded that the sites remove the comments and threatened to sue Lee. She also said he was infringing on her copyright provisions and started sending invoices for fines of $100 a day. By October, the total topped $4,600, he said.”

The Service

Since the dentist purchased the right to use Medical Justice Inc. anti-defamation contracts to prevent complaints from dis-satisfied customers from being discussed on the internet, I say she is due a refund. What’s more, if she’s given any trouble about it, she should get on the internet and complain – if she didn’t forfeit that right as part of the agreement.

The ADA

So where did Dr. Stacy Makhnevich learn about Medical Justice Inc.’s ineffective, unethical and probably illegal anti-defamation contract service? Of all places, it may well have been in ADA Headquarters, 211 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago, (312) 440-2500

Dr. Jeffrey Segal [MD, JD], the neurosurgeon and founder of Medical Justice Services Inc. which sold providers like Dr. Makhnevich the right to use his company’s contracts, was a featured speaker at the American Dental Association’s [ADA] annual Benefits Conference last year.

The ADA leadership’s decision to invite Dr. Segal to advertise his product at a benefits conference (?) reveals the old timers’ underlying paranoia that makes them prefer silence from members as well as their own dental patients.

Assessment

Since the ADA effectively put its stamp of approval on Medical Justice’s anti-defamation contracts, don’t you think the ADA News should at least post a warning about the liability to members who attended Dr. Segal’s presentation in ADA Headquarters? Let’s watch dentistry’s leaders ignore the abysmal results of yet another half-baked blunder caused by people too proud to listen.

Conclusion

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Newt Gingrich has his Way with the ADA

Dentists should be furious with Gingrich for commandeering the ADA

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

On This Week roundtable discussion this morning [Sunday], George Will began his comments about Newt Gingrich, now a frontrunner, by saying that he “embodies everything disagreeable about modern Washington.”

Dentists should be furious with not only Gingrich, but with our inattentive dental leaders as well.

Why? 

A couple of days ago, Steve Chapman posted “Gingrich’s corruption” on the ChicagoTribune.com.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chapman/chi-gingrichs-corruption-20111118,0,4581968.story

Chapman writes:

“Conservatives may be able to forgive Newt Gingrich for being an adulterer and for his flip-flops on climate change and mandatory health insurance. They are willing to put those aside because they think he’s shown a fierce attachment to their cause. But, the latest revelations will be harder to digest, because they suggest that his allegiance is for sale.”

He punctuates the condemnation with a quote from USA Today:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/politics/story/2011-11-16/newt-gingrich-think-tank-opeds/51246512/1  

“In a series of op-eds stretching over several years, Gingrich repeatedly advocated for various health-care related issues, including electronic health care records, ways to improve the health care sector, and medical malpractice reform without acknowledging the issues were directly connected to members of the Center for Health Transformation, a for-profit think tank he founded in 2003.”

Newt, for a Freddie Mac historian, you’re pretty sly!

According to information that Center for Health Transformation [CHT] spokeswoman Susan Meyers provided USA Today, healthcare stakeholders participating in Gingrich’s “think tank” can expect to pay Gingrich between $5,000 and $200,000, “depending on how many employees attend the center’s meetings and use other services.”

Wouldn’t you just love to ask Ms. Meyers if Gingrich’s think tank members are more likely to realize a return on their investment than their software offers dentists?

I suggested to the editor of the Chicago Tribune to specifically ask ADA President-elect Dr. Robert Faiella questions about the cost and safety of EHRs in dentistry. Then I followed the comment with,

 “And, be sure to tell Dr. Faiella that D. Kellus Pruitt DDS referred you to him. Though we’ve never met, he knows who I am. If you get around to it, you might ask him how much HIPAA compliance raises the cost of dentistry. There are thousands of dentists who would find the President-elect’s answer to that question truly enlightening.”

I Do Find this Fun

Psst…! Chicago Tribune Editor; want a hot tip? I know of a local but far-reaching lead concerning the malignant, corporate corruption described by Steve Chapman in his article. A reporter wouldn’t have to travel far to aggravate employees of a secretive, command and control organization. The ADA National Headquarters is just down the street at 211 East Chicago Avenue. In 2004, the widely-overlooked, not-for-profit’s lack of transparency made it especially vulnerable to Gingrich’s deceptive selling points!

ADA Officials

I think everyone agrees that asking ADA officials reasonable questions about the cost and safety of any high-tech dental product they recommend – including electronic dental record systems – is not unreasonable.

In fact, now that Steve Chapman has shown Newt Gingrich’s profit motives for misleading our dental leaders, caution seems prudent.

This could be ornery-fun if, like me, someone on your staff gets a kick out of asking shy good ol’ boys questions they are hardly ready to answer. I wish the Tribune luck getting past anonymous, unaccountable gatekeepers who shield ADA officials from accountability. I suggest sending your questions to Dr. Robert Faiella. He is not only the unresponsive Chair of the ADA Electronic Health Record Workgroup, but he is the ADA’s latest insensitive President-elect.

Dentists should be furious with Newt Gingrich for commandeering the ADA

Psst…! Chicago Tribune Editor! You interested in another hot tip? I know of a local but potentially far-reaching lead concerning the malignant, corporate corruption described by Steve Chapman in his article exposing Newt Gingrich’s poor manners.

Should you choose to do so, you won’t have to travel far to aggravate employees of a stoic, command and control organization. The national headquarters for the American Dental Association is just down the street at 211 East Chicago Avenue. The widely-forgotten, not-for-profit’s traditional lack of transparency made it especially vulnerable to Gingrich’s deception back in 2004.

I think everyone agrees that asking ADA leaders reasonable questions about the cost and safety of any high-tech dental product they recommend – including electronic dental record systems – is not unreasonable.

In fact, now that Steve Chapman has shown us Newt Gingrich’s motives for misleading our dental leaders, caution seems prudent.

This could be ornery-fun if someone on your staff gets a kick out of asking shy good ol’ boys questions they are not yet ready to answer.

Nevertheless, the ADA will refuse to respond to questions, Editor. Even while I was still a member of the professional organization up until a year ago, it clearly aggravated dental leaders when I repeatedly questioned the cost and safety of EDRs on local, state and national levels of the organization.

I always find evasion intriguing. Maybe you will have better luck getting past anonymous, unaccountable gatekeepers who shield the good ol’ boys from transparency.

Assessment 

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Here’s the official to whom I suggest you futileyly address your questions: Dr. Robert Faiella. He is not only the unresponsive Chair of the ADA Electronic Health Record Workgroup, but he is theADA’s latest insensitive President-elect.

Conclusion

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On the Leadership Shake-Up at the “Clinician’s Report” Foundation

Paul Child is now the Former CEO of the CR Foundation

[An Exclusive ME-P “Breaking” News Event]

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

If you work hard on a righteous pursuit long enough, in spite of what shy people might think of your motives, sometimes you win one for the community.

I wish Dr. Paul Child, former CEO of the Clinician’s Report [CR] Foundation, the best of luck in his new pursuits.

The Exiting CEO [Dr. Paul Child]

In my latest comment on CR Foundation Facebook, I demanded to speak with an anonymous employee’s supervisor because of her unexplained censorship of my three comments – including important questions about EDRs and HIPAA. A few hours ago, that comment was also censored without warning or explanation.

However, in its place I found an announcement that Dr. Child is no longer CEO, and that co-founder Dr. Gordon Christensen himself is taking over the position.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/CR-Foundation/160588080492

The CR Foundation Announcement

“Dr. Paul L. Child Jr., the CEO of Clinicians Report for the last 3-1/2 years, will be leaving CR at the end of 2011 to pursue other interests as he continues his contributions to the dental profession. We wish Paul the best in his new endeavors and are pleased that he will continue to serve CR Foundation as a member of the CR Board of Directors.”

The New CEO [Dr. Gordon J. Christensen]

“Dr. Gordon J. Christensen, the Co-Founder of CR, has been appointed to the position of CEO. He will lead the experienced team of over 400 clinicians in 19 countries and 40 son-site scientists, engineers, and support staff. Additionally, Gordon continues to practice, speak internationally, and provide leadership for needed research in CR.”

Link: http://www.cliniciansreport.org/

That looks to me like a heartfelt apology. I accept.

If any dental leader can be honest with dentists about important, time-sensitive issues nobody else will address it’s Dr. Christensen. He’s a good man with high ideals that don’t include hiding the truth about dental products from dentists in order to shield stakeholders from accountability. 

Assessment 

Now that you’ve witnessed in real time how even one dentist’s voice can improve our community on a national level, why in the hell aren’t you speaking up, Doc?

If your assertiveness is inhibited by traditional notions of “professional conduct,” let me remind you that in Alaska, high school grads are legally extracting large portions of teeth for US citizens who can-least afford complications.

Good luck with silence in a networked marketplace.

Conclusion                

And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Is this new development related to the ME-P titled: In Defense of the eDR Industry?

Link:  https://medicalexecutivepost.com/2011/11/03/in-defense-of-the-edr-industry/

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The AMA says “Power to the Patient” … Finally!

The American Medical Association Recognizes Shared Decision Making

By Staff Reporters

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Some readers of the ME-P may be surprised to learn that the American Medical Association [AMA] now “recognizes” shared decision making.  A document recommending precisely that is available for your reading pleasure here.

Assessment

The AMA also recognizes that shared decision making can make the physician-patient relationship stronger, opposes any effort to link it to insurance coverage and supports more pilot programs.

Of course, with AMA influence waning at less than 18% of allopathic members, and health 2.0 strategic initiatives rising along with a plethora of other related medical professionals, was there even a choice? 

As one doctor we interviewed said:Congratulations AMA for recognizing the obvious and abandoning your command-control philosophy … and welcome to Y 2012.” 

Conclusion

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USN&WR – Meet the ADA President

Dr. Raymond Gist

By Kellus Pruitt DDS

I just found a US News Health article by Angela Haupt titled, “The Era of Electronic Medical Records.”

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/most-connected-hospitals/articles/2011/07/18/most-connected-hospitals?PageNr=1 

Even though dentistry wasn’t mentioned even once, I took liberties with the comment I posted. Besides, dentistry is never mentioned anywhere in the healthcare press, and that’s just not healthy. That is the point I hope I got across to Angela Haupt when I suggested she become Dr. Gist’s 7th Facebook friend.

 

Dear US News and World Report:

Last year, President Barack Obama promised that digitizing America’s health records will go beyond just improving care. He said transforming from paper to digital is a “panacea for the economy.” Somehow, illness became a renewable national resource.

I’m pretty sure neither the President nor US News have a clue about the business of dentistry.

Defying your common, misinformed bias for EHRs over paper records, here is a bite of reality from a dentist who actually treats patients: Other than me, the nation’s other 170,000 dentists are stone-silent about adoption of electronic dental records. Don’t you find that odd? What’s more, stakeholders inside and outside the American Dental Association, including even software vendors, avoid public discussions of EDRs. Dr. Oz’s Sharecare.com won’t even touch the topic. Why?…  a reporter might ask.

Do you trust that the widely-respected ADA always represents first and foremost the safety of dental care for both dentists and their patients? Let me fix that for you: ADA President Dr. Raymond Gist recently opened a Facebook, and two days ago, I was fortunate enough to be his second fan and the first to post a comment.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Raymond-F-Gist/165275266868843

I took advantage of an unprecedented opportunity to speak directly to a vetted ADA official and asked the President, “Are electronic dental records more or less dangerous for dentists and patients than paper records?” I’m disappointed that Dr. Gist still has not responded. Why did he even bother opening a Facebook, one might ask.

Here’s what I think:

Because of the cost and safety issues with digital records that I warned each ADA President about since 2006, EDRs, and especially HIPAA, have become so difficult to defend in a free-market that nobody even tries any more. I think a handful of ADA leaders expected pigs to fly much sooner than this.

Assessment 

Want to do some real reporting, US News? Become Dr. Raymond F. Gist’s 7th Facebook fan and ask him on behalf of your publisher if EDRs are safer than paper dental records. Sure. It’s unconventional, and as far as journalism goes, it’s kind of kinky to post a question on someone’s Facebook. Nevertheless, it could be fun to watch a USN&WR reporter be treated with the same level of respect ADA officials offer dues-paying members.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Can Americans Trust the ADA?

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Trusting the American Dental Association?

[By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS]

In January 2011 – the same month a new Minnesota law demanded dentists purchase e-prescription software whether they want it or not – the ADA Standards Committee on Dental Informatics published White Paper No. 1070: “Implementation of the Electronic Prescription Standard for Dentistry.”

Minnesota lawmakers who logically turned to the respected ADA for what they expected to be reliable and unbiased professional advice, were assured by the Committee that e-prescribing  will not only “insure the elimination of illegible prescriptions” but it will also “reduce preventable errors such as drug to drug interactions, drug-allergy reactions, dosing errors, therapeutic duplication, and other error types.”

http://www.ada.org/sections/scienceAndResearch/pdfs/ADA_White_Paper_No._1070.pdf

Really, ADA? On what evidence did the ADA Department of Dental Informatics base their self-serving claims?

This week, MedicalNewsToday.com reporter Christian Nordqvist posted “11.7% Medication Error Rate In E-Prescribing,” which directly contradicts the ADA’s advice to trusting Minnesota lawmakers and ADA members. Nordqvist writes: “The chances of mistakes occurring in prescriptions sent electronically are no lower than in those written out by hand, a researcher from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston wrote in the Journal of American Medical Information Association. This will be a disappointment for health reform experts and policymakers [and ADA officials] who assured that E-prescribing would have fewer medication errors, as well as saving the government billions of dollars.”

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/230296.php

If one considers the JAMIA a credible Journal, research clearly suggests that e-prescribing is a bust for physicians who write many more prescriptions than dentists. Yet ADA officials continue to encourage dentists to adopt paperless practices without mentioning that e-prescriptions not only produce just as many errors as paper, but that they are hundreds of times more expensive because of the cost of computers, software and HIPAA requirements.

In addition, if a dentist’s computer is stolen or hacked – even if he or she properly reports a breach of e-prescription records – the tragedy can easily bankrupt a practice between the HIPAA fines, state attorneys general lawsuits, patient notifications and local media coverage of the breach (as required by HIPAA/HITECH). The Ponemon Institute estimates the cost to be over $200 per dental patient. And the price is only increasing. I just read that HHS is to conduct 150 HIPAA audits in 2012. Ka-ching!!!

https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=9e045aa4f7e6f8499c5b6f74d5b211e9&tab=core&_cview=0

That announcement from HHS should also conveniently boost sales of “The ADA Practical Guide to HIPAA Compliance” (on sale now at ADA.org for $220 while supplies last).

Sounding the Alarm

I personally started warning ADA leaders about this over 5 years ago. Yet as far as I can tell, they continue to blissfully ignore the IT disaster in dentistry. They don’t have to listen to nobody. And it shows.

As illogical as it sounds for an organization whose only purpose is to serve the interests of dues-paying members, the ADA hasn’t a single “vetted” EDR expert who will allow him or herself to be accessed on the internet. One such rumored expert is long-time ADA Trustee Dr. Robert Faiella. Since the Osterville, Massachusetts periodontist is so secretive with the ADA members he serves, like Soviet leaders of the 1970s, it’s hard to tell for sure if he is still in power or even alive.

Suspiciously, in these days of rapidly-expanding openness through social networks, the ADA cannot even contribute experts’ answers to Sharecare.com as promised – much less open a Facebook with over 12,000 waiting fans. So instead of ADA members’ questions about e-prescribing being answered by ADA experts on a convenient venue like a Facebook, ADA members must turn to irrelevant, Committee-approved publications… just like the Soviet Union of the 1970s.

I have personally found it is easier to obtain responses from my US Senator John Cornyn than from shy ADA officials. But then, I’ve discovered that Senator Cornyn is a remarkably caring individual. Not an evasive not-for-profit apparatchik with nice teeth.

Assessment

How long before dentistry’s handful of entrenched ADA leaders apologize for the harm they’ve caused and stop deceiving Americans about electronic dental records? It’s the least Dr. Robert Faiella could do before resigning his ADA position.

As long as obsolete ADA officials wink at a bankrupt policy of deception, can the reclusive not-for-profit organization ever regain America’s trust?

Conclusion

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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?

Assessment

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.

Conclusion

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Challenging a Naive eDR Advocate

An Open Letter to Dr. Margaret Scarlett

By D. Kellus Pruitt; DDS

For the last few weeks, I’ve been challenging a naive EDR advocate. They are becoming increasingly hard to find. Here is what I posted today on her blog.

Dear Dr. Margaret Scarlett

This open conversation on your Medscape Connect blog not only alerts the nation to the possibility of imminent failure of interoperability in post-computerized dentistry, but it also features dialogue introducing potential solutions around otherwise insurmountable problems the industry is encountering.

http://boards.medscape.com/forums?128@884.9VVBadZEUsj@.2a077212!comment=1

Courageous 

A forum such as yours that invites frank discussion about the faults of EDRs is almost unprecedented and entirely politically-incorrect. But then, that is why it is incredibly meaningful. Thank you for your courage, Dr. Scarlett.

Collegial

Let’s keep it collegial but challenging.

First of all, in your April 21st response, you justifiably expressed concern that EHR/fax hybrids might increase danger of data breaches over the incredible risk that already exists in digitalized healthcare. I assume that now that you know more about cloud-based companies such as Sfax, you agree that your security concern is unfounded. Fax, telephone and the US Mail will always be more secure than the internet – an often-forgotten fact. Any arguments?

A large part of your response concerned interoperability and aggregation problems that will be easily solved by the Health Information Exchanges (HIE) and EHR/fax companies. Why would their product not be seamless like any other digital transmission? From our perspective as dentists, your concern is a non-issue. Anything that can be printed on paper can come up on a computer screen and vice versa. Fortunately for our patients, you and I don’t have to worry ourselves about the technological magic of common office equipment.

I just have to say that when I read about your concern for “dependence on ink supplies, phone connections, or the availability of personnel to handle pieces of papers without any mistakes,” I noticed you didn’t say anything about saving the forests and paper cuts. Quite frankly, I think even you recognize that these lame arguments against a new idea are disingenuous stretches. Who’s to say there will be fewer keystroke errors on digital records than paper? See what I mean?

Lastly, in your April 21st response, you seem to suggest that unless the vast majority of dentists spend tens of thousands of dollars to purchase EDRs which will raise the cost of the care they provide, huge pools of data stored in HIEs that you claim somehow “assure patient-centered care,” will not be available to dentistry. You’ve got to be kidding. How many years away is that science? Let me repeat: Dental patients are fortunate that EDRs are going nowhere because of dentists’ solid business reasons in the land of the free. Until EDR advocates base sales claims on evidence rather than hearsay, they are only entertaining themselves with the fantasy.

Assessment 

I only wish the anonymous EHR experts in the ADA who are quietly influencing lawmakers would step out and introduce themselves to the community they serve. Can you think of any possible reason that the ADA can’t answer a few questions about what they have been doing on our behalf. Or should that not concern dentists?

Conclusion

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ICD-10 is Not an Airplane

It’s Another Part of HIPAA the ADA Won’t Discuss

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

A couple of days following the heads up I posted concerning the imminent upgrade from the tedious ICD-9 coding system to the ICD-10 that is said to be exponentially more complicated, informatics specialist Tom Sullivan posted a signal to fellow coders nationwide: “7 tactics for making ICD-10 urgent.”

http://www.healthcareitnews.com/blog/7-tactics-making-icd-10-urgent 

If you are fed up with unfunded, non-productive and ineffective mandates like I am, I imagine an alert to coders to create urgency in your practice makes your ear lobes burn bright red as well.

Tedious Administrative Tasks 

According to Sullivan, the ICD-10 presents providers with new requirements for “care management protocols, clinical and financial databases and reports, reimbursement, registries, quality management and research.” These requirements do not promote patients’ best interests. These tedious administrative tasks only enable HIPAA-covered entities to get paid.

ADA

If you are a HIPAA-covered dentist with a voluntary but permanent 10-digit NPI number which is required for ICD-10 compliancy, are you aware if ADA leaders have yet described the ICD-10 coding system any better than they described the NPI number that Delta Dental, BCBSTX, as well as the ADA aggressively promoted years ago?

Who knows? The ICD-10 may not even apply to dentistry. Somewhere deep in the HIPAA Rule, there might be a footnote that says “except in dental practices.”

Department of Dental Informatics

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard rumors about HIPAA’s nasty surprises for dentists. Five years ago this month, “quality” control through dental informatics was enthusiastically but perhaps prematurely revealed to me by an excited spokesman for the ADA Department of Dental Informatics. It was his email that equipped me with everything I needed for this 5 year adventure.

Shortly afterwards, the topic of HIPAA became so poisonous for ADA officials to discuss that the misled leaders who unwittingly signed on to promote digital fantasies in dentistry only rarely appeared in print and never on the internet – leaving the responsibility of informing naïve and trusting ADA members about the downsides of EHRs to those who sell EHRs.

Nevertheless, following three years of official silence about HIPAA from the ADA, in the last 14 months there have been two commentaries published in the JADA which promote quality control in dentistry. The first was written by James Bader DDS and appeared in the December 2009 edition of the JADA titled “Challenges in quality assessment of dental care.”

http://jada.ada.org/cgi/content/full/140/12/1456  

Quality Control 

The second commentary concerning quality control was written by Editor Michael Glick DMD titled ““When good may not be good enough — The need for clinical performance measures in dentistry.” (I’m no longer able to access JADA online).

EBD 

HIT stakeholders Bader and Glick, who are both fervent supporters of Evidence Based Dentistry as well as paperless dental practices, carefully tiptoe around what looks to me like an oppressive, micromanaged future for dentists. They both argue what must be a desperate committee-approved talking point – that quality assessment is critically important for ADA members so that fully-licensed dentists will have digital, Evidence-Based proof that their care is better than dental therapists’ who work for much less money.

Are ADA leaders sitting around a big table in ADA Headquarters when they think up this crap?

In addition, the cloistered committee concludes that patients’ opinions of their dentists is too difficult to collect and less reliable than algorithms based on dental claims and other data provided by the ICD-10 (?).

In fact, Dr. Bader is so confident in Evidence-Based digital results, he dismisses the need for any patient involvement in quality assessment: “Patient satisfaction has been shown to be associated only weakly with other assessments of quality of care, which means that it cannot be used as a surrogate for measures of technical quality.” Try telling that to a formerly satisfied dental patient who suddenly must pick his or her next dentist from a “preferred” provider list of strangers.

Assessment 

You mean like Ingenix’s measures of technical quality, Dr. Bader? In 2008, NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo spanked the UnitedHealth subsidiary for selling algorithmic excuses to insurers to be used to cheat out-of-network physicians.

Conclusion

If you are a small business owner who reasonably asks to be paid no more and no less than what one is owed as quickly as possible – if not immediately like all other businesses in the land of the free – I’m pretty sure Sullivan’s 7 pearls intended to make ICD-10 more urgent for doctors will light up the lobes again. And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Has the HIT Bubble Already Popped?

Long Before Reaching … Dentistry

[By Darrell K. Pruitt DDS]

HCPlexus recently partnered with Thompson Reuters to conduct a nationwide survey of almost 3,000 physicians about their opinions of the quality of health care in the near future considering the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), Electronic Medical Records, and their effects on physicians and their patients. (See “5-page Executive Summary”)

http://www.hcplexus.com/PDFs/Summary—2011-Thomson-Reuters-HCPlexus-National-P

Results:

“Sixty-five percent of respondents believe that the quality of health care in the country will deteriorate in the near term. Many cited political reasons, anger directed at insurance companies, and critiques of the reform act – some articulating the strong feelings they have regarding the negative effects they expect from the PPACA.”

What’s more, one in four physicians think eHRs will cause more harm than help. So what’s the accepted threshold for the Hippocratic Oath to come into play?

Do you also find excitement in healthcare reform’s surprises? Experiencing the sudden, last minute turns healthcare reform has taken lately is like riding shotgun with Mayhem behind the wheel, texting. Here’s other discouraging news from the same HCPlexus-Thompston Reuters survey: “A surprising 45% of all respondents indicated they did not know what an ACO is, exposing a much lower awareness of ACOs versus the broader implications of PPACA. It appears there has been a lack of physician education in this area.”

ACOs Defined 

Since I also had no idea what an ACO is, I searched the term and came across a timely article that was posted on NPR only days ago titled, “Accountable Care Organizations, Explained.”

http://www.npr.org/2011/01/18/132937232/accountable-care-organizations-explained

Author Jenny Gold writes: “ACOs are a new model for delivering health services that offers doctors and hospitals financial incentives to provide good quality care to Medicare beneficiaries while keeping down costs.” Does that remind anyone of insurance HMO promises just before the bad idea collided with surprisingly intelligent consumers in the early 1990s? Kelly Devers, a senior fellow at the nonprofit Urban Institute, is quoted: “Some people say ACOs are HMOs in drag,” There’s a sharp turn nobody warned us about.

HMO Differentiation 

Further blurring the difference between ACOs and HMOs, Gold adds “An ACO is a network of doctors and hospitals that shares responsibility for providing care to patients. Under the new law, ACOs would agree to manage all of the health care needs of a minimum of 5,000 Medicare beneficiaries for at least three years.” I wonder if we’ll see a resurrection of HMO gag orders preventing physicians from discussing effective but expensive treatment alternatives not offered by the ACO.

As expected, not only are hospitals and doctors competing for the opportunity to run ACOs, but so are former HMO insurance agents. Devers explains, “Insurers say they can play an important role in ACOs because they track and collect data on patients, which is critical for coordinating care and reporting on the results.” As a provider, do you trust UnitedHealth’s Ingenix data mining tendencies? A few years ago, NY State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo spanked the company for selling insurers pseudo-scientific excuses to cheat out-of-network physicians.

Just like Health Maintenance Organizations don’t maintain health, insurer-based Accountable Care Organizations will not bring accountability to care any more than the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provides patient protection and affordable care. And since I’m exposing blatant bi-partisan deceptions, there is no privacy or accountability in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and the “HIPAA Administrative Simplification Statute and Rules Act” doesn’t.

HITECH Funding

Gold suggests that because HITECH rules were written intentionally vague in order to push the envelope of stakeholders’ imaginations, similar to HIPAA’s ineffective security rules I suppose, the doctors’ predictable ignorance of ACOs is understandable.

But then again, all this may not even matter in a few months. According to Howard Anderson, Executive Editor of HealthcareInfoSecurity.com, HITECH funding itself is threatened. He recently posted “GOP Bill Would Gut HITECH Funding – Unobligated HITECH Act Funds Would be Eliminated.”

http://www.govinfosecurity.com/articles.php?art_id=3306

Assessment

While Obama’s healthcare reform teeters between two houses, I encourage consumers to plead with their lawmakers to stop being suckered in by cheap, meaningless buzzwords sprinkled in the titles of bills. I’m hoping we can at least get them to read a little deeper. Be on your toes. Mayhem is “recalculating.”

Conclusion

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[Do] eHRs Fail to Improve Healthcare Quality?

I told you so … wow! That felt really, really good!

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS 

If you haven’t been following the bad news for electronic health records that has broken in the popular media in the last few days, you may be unaware of recent studies that are about as welcome in Washington DC as Wikileaks revelations of diplomatic farts – but much more serious. Healthcare reform itself is in the balance, and President Obama’s credibility with mandates is already shot.

Records will show that a few politically-incorrect troublemakers knew all along that EHRs will fail to save money or improve the quality of healthcare – ever – unless doctors and patients are involved in their development. This troublemaker warned dentists 5 years ago about how HIT stakeholder and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich deceived naïve ADA Delegates about benefits of eHRs to dental patients. In turn, 3 years later, the ADA’s HIT stakeholder, Dr. Robert Ahlstrom, deceived Bush’s HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt with biased, self-serving testimony he gave to the NCVHS. (See “Dr. Robert H. Ahlstrom’s controversial HIPAA testimony” that I posted in 2008.)

http://community.pennwelldentalgroup.com/forum/topics/dr-robert-h-ahlstroms

Do you still not agree that long ago, I told you so?

At a time when President Obama’s healthcare reform is teetering between the Houses, just wait until lawmakers catch the news I’m bringing to you hours, days or even weeks ahead of Fox News: Transparency just caused a huge chunk of anticipated funding for reform to evaporate like American’s property values. After billions of stimulus dollars have been gleefully spent benefiting influential healthcare stakeholders rather than principals, the bi-partisan feel-good digital fantasy is bankrupt. Pop goes the bubble.

Although there have been minor news reports of growing disappointment in eHRs for years, the results of two recent studies by Public Library of Sciences (PLoS) and Stanford clearly expose the lack of value of eHRs for Americans. We’ve been had.

The WSJ 

On January 21, the Wall Street Journal posted an article titled, “Study Looks For, Can’t Find Much Evidence of E-Health’s Benefits,” by Katherine Hobson.

http://blogs.wsj.com/health/2011/01/21/study-looks-for-cant-find-much-evidence-of-e-healths-benefits/

Hobson writes: “With the U.S. and the U.K. heading full steam towards electronic medical records and other health IT applications, how much evidence is there that they improve care?

Not a whole lot, according to a review of existing research on the topic published this week by PLoS Medicine. While governments and other proponents are claiming that digitizing health records can save lives and increase efficiency, the review’s ‘key conclusion is that these claims need to be scrutinized before people invest quite large sums of money in these technologies,’ Aziz Sheikh, lead author of the study and a professor of primary care research and development at the Center for Population Health Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, tells the Health Blog.’”

US News & World Report

And; only hours ago, US News & World Report posted a story titled “Electronic Record-Keeping Alone May Not Boost Health Care.” (no byline).

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/managing-your-healthcare/policy/articles/2011/01/25/electronic-record-keeping-alone-may-not-boost-health-care

“Electronic health records have so far done little to improve the quality of health care in the United States, a new study states.

Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine analyzed data on use of electronic records from 2005 through 2007. The data came from a nationwide physician survey that encompassed nearly 250,000 outpatient visits.”

The ADA 

So how does the truth about eHRs affect ADA leadership’s stubborn push for paperless practices in dentistry? Well, if as a trusting ADA member, you haven’t already swallowed the propaganda, now wouldn’t be a good time to convert to paperless.

eDRs

Though my unpopular but accurate statements about eDRs eventually got me in secret trouble with vetted, anonymous Texas Dental Association officials, I predicted this week’s bad news years ago on the TDA online forum. Unfortunately, my warnings to other TDA members about the ADA’s biggest blunder in history were censored by the TDA Executive Director without warning or explanation. Why? She isn’t accountable to anyone and “Image is everything.” (ADA/IDM slogan).

Just how difficult can it be to recognize that eHRs are inefficient in dental practices for simple, common sense reasons? First of all, dental records which involve prevention and treatment of disease in the lower third of the face rarely include laboratory test results like medical records which concern the whole body. In addition, dentists maintain tenfold fewer thin patient charts than physicians’ thick ones. So if the value of eHRs are questionable for hospital care involving millions of charts, I think dentists are safe to ignore Presidential eHR mandates. The bottleneck in dental offices isn’t the front desk, it’s the dentist … or at least it should be. As for thumbing your nose at a Presidential mandate, I wouldn’t get too concerned. Obama also mandated that the prison at Guantanamo Bay was to be closed over a year ago. It didn’t happen, and nobody went to jail.

Unfunded Mandates 

Unfunded mandates just don’t carry the respect they once did when they were less common and actually made sense. Considering the absurdity of eHRs in dentistry, worse things could happen for trusting, clueless Americans.

Those who represent our concerns in government probably don’t yet realize that in the last four days, the price of healthcare reform skyrocketed even further out of reach, and we simply cannot borrow any more money from our grandchildren just to throw it away on expensive hi-tech crap. As for myself, I’m sending this ME-P to my national and state representatives: Cornyn, Hutchison, Barton, Burgess, Harris, Davis, Patrick and Veasey, I hope you will contact your representatives as well. The Internet makes it so easy these days to educate those who would otherwise determine our future based on deception from healthcare stakeholders.

Assessment 

I publicly challenge Dr. Robert Ahlstrom, who is currently a member of the ADA Council on Dental Practice and chair of the Members Advisory Group to an Internet discussion concerning electronic health records in dentistry. It’s the same unanswered challenge I issued to the influential dentist over 3 years ago: I still say electronic dental records are an expensive hobby paid for by dental patients in higher fees, and they do nothing to improve patient care. What do you have to say about that, Dr. Robert Ahlstrom? You know you’re going to have to face me again and again, so please don’t disappoint ADA members by continuing to hide. It makes the whole ADA look cowardly.

Conclusion

Always remember: I told you so, Dr. Robert Ahlstrom. And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. How do you select an eMR consultant? Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Has the ADA Ever Mentioned Quality Control?

About My Tell-All Book?

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

One day, I’m going to write a tell-all book about quality control dentistry …  But, for all I’ve been told, it might be fiction.

The Quality Mandate 

Here’s something I find entertaining about the “quality” reporting mandate that was quietly written into HIPAA about the time President Clinton amended the 1966 Freedom of Information Act – making doctors’ records no longer proprietary business information. The 1996 HIPAA Rule is modular, and around every corner, we’ve learned there is an exploding surprise that was slipped into a thick bill long ago. The bolus technique of passing difficult legislation is not unlike the way the 2000 page healthcare reform bill was handled. It gets crap through the system too quick to be read, understood and debated by principals in healthcare who aren’t paying attention anyway. It’s a rule-making policy that simply favors stakeholders rather than doctors and patients. Depending on the campaign contributions, silliness can catch fire like a Madoff investment.

Dental Quality Compliance 

I don’t know about physicians, but dentists have never been warned about the quality control part of compliance. Now that it’s an integral part of healthcare reform’s imaginary funding, it’s a sure bet that no ADA official is willing to discuss the egregious blunder even anonymously.

ADA Department of Informatics

Soon enough, ADA members will learn about the clandestine quality control efforts of the ADA Department of Informatics – the brainchild of former ADA Sr. Vice President Dr. John Luther, who I hear is no longer part of the organization. Although I’m a persistent, nosey outsider peeking into a secretive not-for-profit organization (?), from what I can tell, the ADA’s interest in quality control began about 6 years ago following a visit to the ADA Headquarters by Newt Gingrich – which evidently favored the ADA Department of Dental Informatics with federal funding to replace dependence on finicky members’ dues. Had ADA members who were busy treating dental patients actually known the directions the ADA took the ADA’s mission statement for easy money, Dr. Luther’s career with the organization would have been even shorter.

Anonymous ADA Leaders 

Knowing that anonymous ADA leaders’ blunders no longer stay hidden forever, don’t you find the shyness of today’s dental leaders amusing? Don’t you just know the trusting early-adopters of interoperable eDRs will be pissed off when they discover that long ago, the ADA could have warned them about ambitious stakeholders’ plans for the profession?

Assessment

Who’s going to break the sweet news to dues-paying members before CMS, insurers, and quality control consultants (today’s dental insurance consultants), are granted a back door to HIPAA-compliant dentists’ interoperable computers allowing access for real-time quality control authorities, as well as fraud, HIPAA, FTC and other inspectors working on commission? It’s a dark tale.

Conclusion

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Looking to Convert to a Paperless Dental [Medical] Practice?

Why Does the ADA Promote eDRs?

By Darrell K. Pruitt DDS

Not so Fast!

Before a dentist trustingly accepts the recommendation of the American Dental Association and unwittingly converts his or her practice to paperless, one should read the story I copied below which was posted on VillageSoup.com yesterday.

Unlucky dentist loses everything …

http://waldo.villagesoup.com/business/brief/business-services/unlucky-dentist-loses-everything/373672

Worst Way to Start Off the Year

I have been on my own for last 7 yrs. We have a small business server (windows 2003) 6 work stations, completely paperless using Dentrix 11 and Vixwin platinum. One morning, when we returned to work, we could not access the server. Went into panic mode! Not able to get anything! Not knowing the schedule. Who is coming what they are coming for, etc. It was decided that my server crashed. It was set up w/2 hard drives to mirror each other and also had an external drive back up (Seagate). We ended up rushing the drives to a data recovery company in (data doctors). They sounded very promising claim 90% success). I agreed to pay additional $4100 to rush case! We were led to believe all is well once they diagnosed case. A few hrs later every thing changed. We got the bad news that both drives are not recoverable since they found a minute scratch on one of the plates. Also we are not able to recover anything from the external drive.

At this point I have lost all patient records including x rays going back 7 yrs. I have no access to schedule, ledgers, notes, insurance, X-rays, anything. This is leading both me and my wife into depression. We are very stressed, at a loss. This is a catastrophic loss. Not sure how to move forward?

I am worried about the liability on top of everything else. How do I tell my patients? How do I know who paid for what balances on work that needs to be done, etc. I keep waking up at night thinking of all the possible problems.

This is the lowest point in my career. I don’t even want to go into the office from stress. If any one can offer any advice I would really appreciate it. I know in the past you guys lifted me up. I love forum name.

Thank you.

Assessment

On top of the anguish this person already suffers, the HIPAA violation must be reported to the Department of Health and Human Services. Thanks to HITECH, an expensive inspection is likely to follow. The dentist’s letter reminds me of a desperate private note from a dentist a few months ago describing his HIPAA violation. He lost a laptop computer he was using as a daily backup device. Since there were thousands of his patients’ unencrypted PHI on the computer, he was similarly paralyzed by the same cold and lonely panic a professional feels when optimistic career plans suddenly crumble into a dark void that includes abject business failure. People sometimes hurt themselves and others when even choosing to do the right thing leads to ruin. A person with any compassion can tell from reading the dentist’s plea for help that the newer harsher penalties from HHS and state Attorneys General for data breaches will only further destroy the lives of innocent dentists and their families. HITECH is cruel nonsense in dentistry and ADA leaders are stone-cold heartless.

Although encryption is strongly advised in the “ADA Practical Guide to HIPAA Compliance,” If ADA officials dared to keep track of their failure in promoting safe digital dental records, I bet their own data would show that less than 3% of US dental patients’ PHI is encrypted. Yet proud leaders in my profession remain stoically unresponsive to members’ and patients’ concerns about risks of data breaches. They call their aloofness “professionalism.” It infuriates me that shy ADA officials hide from personal accountability for the careless harm they cause dentists and dental patients.

“Image is everything” ADA/IDM slogan

The nation’s ambulatory healthcare providers – including dentists, podiatrists, chiropractic doctors and physicians – cannot continue to blindly trust our professional organizations to protect our practices from the dangers of the electronic health records they promote for their personal benefit. We’ve been sold out.

Assessment

As far as I can tell, selfish ADA leaders with careers invested in dental informatics just can’t tolerate truth. When I consider the pain they cause at no risk to themselves, I say the parasites should be encouraged to move on down the road and look for their power in a field where they won’t endanger others.

Conclusion

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Dental Therapists [Emerging New Providers?]

Coming to a State Near You

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

The topic of the day in the dental industry concerns the recent WK Kellogg Foundation announcement of their $16 million initiative to help dentalcare stakeholders in five U.S. states, including Kansas and New Mexico, develop dental therapist programs similar to Alaska’s experiment in low cost – high risk dentalcare. The project is moving forward because of reportedly excellent results in a 2 year study following 5 therapists who are a couple of years out of high school with 400 hours of training and 300 Alaskan patients in hard to reach places. That’s risky even in the best of conditions in better climates. It doesn’t take many tragedies to eat up the savings from cheap.

A Balanced Article

DrBicuspid.com contributing writer Mary Otto posted a balanced article on the topic titled “More states moving forward with midlevel providers.”

http://www.drbicuspid.com/index.aspx?d=1&sec=sup&sub=pmt&pag=dis&ItemID=306190

In My Opinion

I am very pleased to see ADA President Dr. Raymond Gist making his presence known concerning the dental therapist controversy. At last count, his name has come out on the Internet four times since yesterday – even though the ADA had to pay a lot of money for the press releases. If dentists fail to represent the interests of dental patients, nobody else will.

Assessment

Paid advertisement is not as effective and not as cheap as an ADA Facebook would be, but press releases are certainly better than silence from ADA President Dr. Raymond Gist.

Conclusion

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“The ADA Practical Guide to HIPAA Compliance”

Book Review – Dark, Dark Reading

By Darrell K. Pruitt DDS

Complying with HIPAA is an investment in the future of your dental practice. HIPAA Privacy sets forth requirements regarding the proper protection, use, and disclosure of patient information. HIPAA Security addresses using and protecting electronic patient information and the electronic technology that can save time, increase revenues, and improve workflow.” So are those evidence-based claims or an advertisement in the $250 ADA publication I purchased?

On Being Leary 

I’ve learned to be wary when dentalcare stakeholders like authors Ed Jones and Carolyn P. Hartley call HIPAA an “investment in the future of your practice” much like I would advise people to be wary of a dentist who sells cosmetic veneers by calling it an “investment in your smile!” All too often it turns out to be an investment in the dentist’s smile.

Unsupported Claims

Contrary to the authors’ unsupported claims in the Introduction of “The ADA Practical Guide to HIPAA Compliance,” there is no evidence that electronic technology saves time, increases revenues or improves workflow in dental offices. And even though Jones and Hartley mention “investment” numerous times in their HIPAA guide, how smart is it for a dentist to sink money into expensive electronic technology that demands mind-numbing documentation (even if it’s done on a computer); that exposes a practice to government inspections which carry liabilities up to $1.5 million even before state attorneys general get involved; that endangers the long-term welfare of both the dental practice as well as dental patients, and that promises no financial return? So just how smart is a HIPAA investment in the future of one’s practice?

Disaster Recovery 

I wasn’t far into Jones and Hartley’s imaginative guide to HIPAA compliance before reading other long-since rejected selling points that are so lame that even rookie eDR vendors know better than to attempt them. The authors’ naïve claim of the digital advantage of easier “disaster recovery” from a fire or hurricane is a good example of ADA-approved HIT fiction. Just ask yourself why disaster recovery was hardly a concern throughout the history of dentistry until the ADA leadership mindlessly bought in to promoting paperless practices and suddenly needed selling points in the worst way.

ADA Slogan

“Dentistry is healthcare that works”.

Beware

Any time dentalcare stakeholders trot out solutions, before asking the price, dentists should determine that there is indeed a corresponding problem that needs to be solved. Here is a simple marketplace test of Jones and Hartley’s disaster recovery claim: Which is cheaper: Disaster recovery insurance or data breach insurance? Common sense says that dentists’ offices are much more likely to be hit by burglars than fires and hurricanes. When burglars break into dentists’ offices, they don’t go for filing cabinets and ledger cards. They steal computers that can contain thousands of patients’ identities. As for the small percentage of US dentists whose offices are located in coastal cities and vulnerable to hurricanes, perhaps those dentists should maintain both digital and paper patient records. After all, which kind is easier to read during power failures that are common with hurricanes as well as ice storms – which occur much more frequently and throughout the nation?  What’s more, pegboards and ledger card boxes in a paper-based practice are not only hack-proof, but their use is unaffected when Internet servers go down, or are hacked. Confused yet? 

“You may decide to engage a technology consultant at some point, but after reading this book, you’ll have specific reasons for that engagement.”

Still Not a Fan

I’m not a fan of creative writers Ed Jones and Carolyn P. Hartley’s style of humor, but I needed a few continuing education credits and decided to pick up 8 easy hours through the ADA by purchasing their HIPAA guide and accompanying test. After finally conquering the first 2 bureaucratic-tedious chapters, it’s a pretty sure bet that I’ll try to wing it on the test long before getting through all 360 pages – many with footnotes even.

In the Minority 

I think studying for a CPA exam would be more riveting reading for me, as well as perhaps more meaningful for my dental patients – even if I were a HIPAA-covered entity. But since I’m one of the 4% of dentists in the nation who still doesn’t store or transmit patients’ protected health information (PHI) in slippery digital form, I never have to worry about attracting a subjective inspection because of my highly visible opinions about the absurdity of HIPAA in dentistry. Fines for being “willfully negligent” start at $50,000, and my transparent lack of respect for the Law would understandably trigger an inspection if I were a HIPAA-covered entity.

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HIPAA Flexibility 

On the other hand, since the HIPAA Rule is “flexible” by design, and HIPAA-covered dentists can be charged with huge fines – the other 96% of dentists in the nation who use computers in the business office have good reason to be careful about exercising their basic freedoms in the land of the free. It’s easy to see why covered entities aren’t complaining. Not to worry. As always, Proots has your six, good buddy. Are flexible laws really in American citizen’s best interest?

Although authors Jones and Hartley repeatedly point out that the HIPAA Rule’s flexibility is its beauty – even to the extent of allowing dentists to decide whether or not to notify their patients of a breach – dentists simply must be warned of the dangers that are inherent in vague laws: Flexibility for the dentist always means subjectivity for the inspector. History has shown us that subjectivity is dangerous in the hands of poorly-trained people with badges working on commission. The odds of fair treatment following even a self-reported data breach are not in a dentist’s favor. Even the simplest investigation by HHS representatives will cost a dentist at least $100 – even if the dentist is determined to be innocent of a baseless complaint – perhaps filed by a disappointed patient or employee.

Investigations and Violations 

“Violation Category (A) Did Not Know:  For a violation in which it is established that the Covered Entity did not know and, by exercising reasonable diligence, would not have known the Covered Entity violated such provision [$100-$50,000 per violation]. Chapter 2, page 20. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius promised Congress that she intends to efficiently investigate every complaint against providers and vows to stop data breaches through stricter enforcement of the (hazy) HIPAA Rule – starting real soon. How is that not tyranny?

HITECH Subjectivity?

The ADA’s guide to HIPAA compliance has reaffirmed to me that HITECH HIPAA is a subjective law designed for abuse by those who created it. What’s more, eDRs provide NOTHING to dental care that has not been adequately and safely handled by conventional means of communication for decades at far lower costs. Sooner or later, the sudden news about HIPAA’s absurdity in dentistry is going to hit the HIT market like a brick. Following that flash of honesty, anyone who doesn’t agree that HIPAA is absurd in dentistry will do so at risk of snickers. So how complicated is compliance?

Chapter One: Dentist’s Obligations 

Chapter 1, page 1: “This book is concerned with only a portion of [Public Law 104-191]: Subtitle F — Administrative Simplification, hereinafter referred to as ‘HIPAA.’” Later in Chapter 1, Jones and Hartley use a paragraph to describe dentists’ obligations.

“Adopting Health IT presents challenges as well. For example, a dental practice must research and evaluate available systems, assess the current and foreseeable needs of the practice, negotiate the terms of the contract for the system and related services, including items such as the cost and availability of tech support, the number of licenses and authorized users that the contract will include, and the hardware and software features that enable HIPAA and HITECH compliance. Time and energy must be devoted to training staff to use the electronic health record system. A dental practice adopting an electronic health record should consult its attorney both with regard to the acquisition itself (including any contracts, licenses, and other legal documents) as well as with regard to the legal implications of using an electronic health record (for example, the dental practice should understand what will constitute the legal record and how the electronic health record would affect document retention requirements). A dental practice that intends to take advantage of the HITECH Act Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement incentives must understand and stay abreast of developments regarding the incentives, such as the qualifications of an “eligible provider,” how to demonstrate compliance with the “meaningful use” criteria,  how reimbursement incentives will be structured, and certification criteria of dental information systems.” 

Now do you see why the name “HIPAA” works better for stakeholders than “Administrative Simplification”?

HIT Rot 

As another illustration of how effectively stakeholders have hidden rot in HIT, the most common misspelling of HIPAA is “HIPPA,” and most consumers trustingly assume at least one of the Ps stands for “Privacy.” HIPAA hasn’t been about patient privacy since it was amended 8 years ago, and the P stands for “Portability.” And boy-howdy are digital records ever portable! HIPAA has ceased to be a benevolent law for Americans. It’s become instead a bi-partisan plan to take control of healthcare from healthcare principals and award it to healthcare stakeholders such as the HIT industry.

Assessment

You’ll spend a good amount of time implementing the Security Rule in your dental practice, but it’s the maintenance measures that will keep you in compliance.” This is a beautiful, meaningless point, Ed Jones and Carolyn P. Hartley.

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Do Passwords Protect the Identity of Patients?

Essay on eDR and eHR Data Integrity

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

“ADA Tip: Password protection is the responsibility of each workforce member. Strong alphanumeric passwords provide a strong defense against unauthorized electronic system intrusion. Passwords that cannot be guessed, that are not publicly posted, and that are changed on a regular basis will help your practice avoid the occurrence of security incidents.”

– 2010 ADA Practical Guide to HIPAA Compliance, Chapter 4, page 26.

Not So Fast, ADA 

I read a recent article on lifehacker.com titled “How to Break into a Windows PC (And Prevent It from Happening to You).” The unnamed author tells a different story.

http://lifehacker.com/5674972/how-to-break-into-a-windows-pc-and-prevent-it-from-happening-to-you

Running on Windows®  

Apparently, if a healthcare provider’s office computer runs on Windows and it is not encrypted, password protection is worse than ineffective security. Passwords are false security. If lifehacker.com is correct, all a dishonest employee needs to download thousands of patient identities to sell for a few hundred bucks is a Linux CD and 10 minutes of snuggle-time with an office terminal.

What’s more, it is unlikely that if the thief will ever be caught if he or she sports common sense. Months or years following the silent heist, the doctor could learn of a rash of neighborhood identity thefts from a federal investigator with a badge – waiting in the reception room for the doc’s next break between patients. Please remember this gaping hole in security the next time a HIT stakeholder like the ADA assures Americans that HIPAA is swell protection from identity theft. HIPAA empowers identity theft. The amendments to the 1996 Rule in 2002 gave too much away to campaign contributors, in my opinion.

About De-identification 

Now then; since you’ve made it this far, is anyone ready to consider a different path to the benefits of electronic dental records? It’s called de-identification. My goal has always been to stimulate open discussion of de-identifying dental records because it is so common sense to remove fuses from bombs. In 5 years, I’ve had very little success attracting sincere discussion about de-identification other than privately. Nevertheless, over the years I entertained an adequate amount of ridicule that stopped a few months ago. Like Charlie Brown and his persevering faith in the Great Pumpkin, I’m resolute.

HIPPA Data-Breach Liability 

Physicians might not be able to get away with sidestepping HIPAA and data-breach liability using de-identification because it is so easy to re-identify owners of medical records. And insurance company CEOs who don’t know the difference between cost control and quality control will fight de-identification of dental records before giving up the exclusive right to bend proprietary algorithms toward bonuses.

Here Comes the Pitch!  

Is America interested in better dental care through a transparent 2.0 platform that incentivizes value-based competition for dental patients instead of paid ads? I have a better solution than HIPAA: Drop the PHI identifiers from dental records and store volatile health histories on one or two well-guarded flash drives. It’s that simple. Want to see miracle discoveries in dentistry? Offer the boring but safe raw, de-identified dental data to anyone who cares to perform Evidence-Based Dental research. Interoperability will still be incredibly tedious and expensive, but at least the effort won’t be doomed by dangerous and expensive HIPAA regulations.

Assessment

So how about it? Imagine the incentives for self-improvement if dentists could privately compare their treatment results with competitors’ – without risk of harming their patients or practices – on an “opt-in” basis rather than a mandated fantasy of a “pay-for-performance” [P4P] model run by stakeholders with investors to answer to. If our grandchildren are to benefit from unbiased Evidence-Based Dental research mined from facts rather than manicured dental claims, passwords won’t allow them a return on ARRA investment and encryption is just one more layer of expensive and futile complication.

Conclusion

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Inviting Debate with eDR Stakeholders

An ME-P Exclusive – Almost

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

I really, really love being provocative in my neighborhood that I know so well. It just doesn’t seem fair. In fact, for five years, I’ve watched the electronic dental record [eDR] market very closely, and I tell you, something big is moving under the radar. If you recall, in the last couple of weeks I brought your attention to unexplained interest blips appearing on the Medical Executive-Post www.MedicalExecutivePost.com concerning eDRs. I suggested that Internet interest in the topic following years of silence from even the ADA, could be a sign that important news about electronic health records in dentistry may be breaking soon.

CCHIT Seeking Comments 

Just a couple of hours ago, Andis Robeznieks posted “CCHIT seeks comments on specialized EHRs” on ModernHealthcare.com.

http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20101119/NEWS/311199996/#

Robeznieks writes: “The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology has opened a public comment period for its proposed oncology and women’s-health electronic health-record certification criteria and test scripts. The comment period will end December 10th at 5 pm CT.”

Meaningful Dental Use 

Is it possible that following the establishment of “meaningful use” guidelines for these specialists, dentistry could be next in line? The nature of the approaching bolus of news concerning eDRs is pure speculation, but rest assured I’ll be right in the middle of it – which brings me to the next sign that eDR stakeholders are getting restless: An almost unheard of conversation about eDRs appeared today on the Internet. Since the only news about eDRs on the Internet are press releases from Dentrix – the largest vendor in the nation – conversations about value of electronic dental records only rarely break out. But, when they appear, I always try my best to be provocative – just to tease out new rationalizations I might have otherwise missed.

I think I found promising opportunity this morning following an article by “John” titled, “EMR Stimulus Q and A: EMR Stimulus Money and Dentists.” It was posted yesterday on the EMR and HIPAA blog.

http://www.emrandhipaa.com/emr-and-hipaa/2010/11/18/emr-stimulus-q-and-a-emr-stimulus-money-and-dentists/comment-page-1/#comment-126257

My Comments

I’ve looked into whether stimulus money will be available to dentists. Many in your audience won’t like it, but here’s your answer: 

Dentists will not receive any ARRA stimulus to help pay for electronic dental records – even if a practice is 30% Medicaid as required. For one thing, it’s already too late to collect on the biggest portion of our grandchildren’s money unless the practice can prove utilization of an ONC-certified eDR in a “meaningful” way by this time next year. And, that’s simply impossible because there are no ONC-certified eDRs, and meaningful use has still not been defined by HHS – with help from the ADA. Eventually, someone from the ADA will either have to promote computer busywork as meaningful use, or concede that meaningful use of eHRs in dentistry simply does not exist.

Example

For example, do you want to log on to a password-protected, HIPAA-compliant computer just to notify the lab that you have a pick-up? For dental practices, speed-dial on the telephone – or fax machine – is much more meaningful, and neither requires the dentist to be a HIPAA-covered entity. In addition, none of the conventional ways of communicating put patients’ identities at risk like digital records on a stolen or hacked computer. That’s Hippocratic meaningful.

Digital Drawbacks 

Here’s another drawback to digitalization: Even though electronic dental records are cutting-edge cool, they have yet to show a return on investment for dental practices, and data breaches will continue to make them more and more expensive. Without ROI, paperless is a hobby paid for by clueless patients in higher fees. Bet you haven’t heard that chunk of honesty very often. Honesty about hi-tech non-solutions is repressed even in the ADA because it is so politically incorrect to admit that our dental leaders who misled members were misled themselves by HIT stakeholders and Newt Gingrich. It’s really difficult for high officials inside and outside dentistry to stand up and say, “Oops! We were wrong.”

See: “Is ARRA Stimulus Money for Dentists?”

https://medicalexecutivepost.com/2010/11/16/is-arra-stimulus-money-for-dentists/

Assessment

I happened to post the article on the Medical Executive-Post two days before John’s article was posted here on the EMR and HIPAA forum. I invite you to read it, and tell me what you think. Other than here, nobody talks about these issues. That can’t be good for dental patients.

Conclusion

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Is ARRA Stimulus Money for Dentists?

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Now is the Time to Say “No Thank You” to the ADA

[By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS]

A few days ago on Twitter, @techguy said: “@Dentrix, Are you guys helping dentists get access to the ARRA EHR Stimulus money?” This morning I “retweeted” his question to the electronic dental record giant: “That’s a great question, @Dentrix. What are you doing to help dentists receive stimulus money?

Of Faded Promises  

Dentrix officials no longer shop faded promises of free stimulus money to help dentists purchase their software. The truth is, without taxpayer help, Dentrix’s product offers dentists no return on investment, and it’s unlikely that the profession will ever see a cent of stimulus money. In fact, if American Dental Association President Raymond Gist wants to be a national hero, now would be the time to purchase a press release to tell the nation, “American dentists graciously decline your offer of stimulus money, taxpayers. We say, let our grandchildren keep it for themselves.” The deficit-weary public is very interested in that kind of good news these days. But, the ADA’s PR opportunity has a shelf life. The sooner they jump on this minor deception the more generous American dentists will appear. A year from now, the chunk of faux-generosity won’t work.

Too Late for Cash Give-Aways 

For one thing, it’s simply too late for dentists to take part in the cash giveaway. And even if there was time for a significant number of dentists to convert from paper to digital before September 2011, to receive promised stimulus money, a dentist’s practice has to be 30% Medicaid. That qualification rules out almost all dental practices right off, and here in Texas last week, Governor Perry threatened to opt my state out of Medicaid (and stimulus money) completely. A year ago, Perry threatened secession from the Union. It sounds to me like you are softening him up, Washington.

Meaningful Use Requirements 

That’s not all. Before a dentist can qualify to be reimbursed up to $44,000 dollars, the practice must show “meaningful use” of certified electronic dental records. However, meaningful use of digital records in dentistry has not yet been determined and perhaps does not actually exist. Nevertheless, the best minds in the ADA and HHS are searching for the next best thing – humorous rationalizations. For example, imagine the convenience of the speed-dial on the telephone compared to logging on to a highly secure, password-protected, HIPAA-compliant, encrypted computer just to tell the lab you have a pick up – just to show the Department of Health and Human Services that you are making “meaningful use” of your Dentrix product and spending taxpayer money wisely.

Assessment 

Do you know what is scary about the leadership in my profession? I’m apparently the only dentist in the nation who dares admit that as far as ARRA stimulus money goes, American dentists are out of luck and clueless. Even @techguy is in the dark for crying out loud!

Conclusion

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Front Matter BoMP – 3

On Delta Dental and the National Association of Dental Plans

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ADA News Tries Sarcasm

[By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS]

For fear of retaliation, ADA officials are reluctant to admit that Delta Dental and other members of the National Association of Dental Plans (NADP) have traditionally used the FTC as a tool to intimidate our professional organization. This means that for decades, the federal government has prevented the ADA from adequately representing the interests of dentist members. Something interesting happened in the ADA just days ago that is related to this tyranny. I assume frustration in the ADA’s unfair struggle against both Delta Dental and the FTC caused the editor of the ADA News to recently permit sarcasm for the first time in history – perhaps to attract attention to Delta’s policies?

A Humorous Article 

On August 9, ADA reporter Kelly Soderlund was given the green light to post an uncharacteristic, tongue-in-cheek introduction to her article, “Decision supports Massachusetts Dental Society insurance challenge.” http://www.ada.org/news/4558.aspx She sold it: “For nearly 40 years, Massachusetts dentists have had to abide by a regulatory order that allowed Delta Dental Plan of Massachusetts to receive an additional 5 percent discount off reimbursement fees in addition to other plan discounts.” Soderlund continues, “More than a decade ago, the Massachusetts Dental Society tried to get the order lifted but was unsuccessful. But now, after a reinstated five-year battle, the New England dentists can claim victory.”

OK. I lied.

In spite of her unintentionally humorous description of the Massachusetts Dental Society’s ineffectiveness, Soderlund was actually not sarcastic. That’s right. The ADA indeed hails this (very qualified) success as a long-fought glorious victory for dentists in Massachusetts where 95% of them are Delta preferred providers. That can’t be good for the health of Massachusetts dental patients. Managed care dentistry is dentistry by the lowest bidders with no quality control, and patients notice. Some stop going to the dentist, causing Delta Dental to reap even more profit. That is why it is not in Delta’s interest to satisfy their clients, and the employers who purchase Delta’s plans are clueless. This makes Delta Dental unaccountable to anyone.

The Delta Business Model 

Delta’s business model helps make the company one of the most unfair discount dentistry brokers in the nation, in my opinion. If you want proof, go to doctoroogle.com and visit any major city.

http://www.doctoroogle.com/dentist_ratings.cfm/pageID/2 Then compare dental patients’ ratings of Delta’s preferred providers to fee-for-service dentists’. In the numerous studies I’ve performed, Delta’s dentists’ average satisfaction level as determined by their patients is consistently inferior to fee-for-service dentists. (See Managed Care Report Card from November 10, 2008).

http://community.pennwelldentalgroup.com/forum/topics/transparency-and-managed-care?commentId=2013420%3AComment%3A19577

Delta Accountability? 

As you can see, since the FTC inhibits the ADA from honestly telling our story, dental care principals desperately need the ADA to open our Facebook so Delta can be held accountable to dentists and patients. Otherwise, Delta will never assume responsibility for the dental homes its preferred provider lists break apart – more often than not, sending their clients to less satisfying offices. What’s more, even Delta officials admit that “changing dentists causes fillings.” (See “Managed Care or Dental Homes – You can’t have both,” September 30, 2008)

http://community.pennwelldentalgroup.com/forum/topics/2013420:Topic:14014

FTC Fear 

If dentists and patients are not permitted to tell our story ourselves through the nationally recognized American Dental Association, we will always be 40 years behind Delta Dental and 5% short of what they owe us. Even though ADA leaders will forever be handicapped by fear of the FTC, individual Americans have nothing to fear. The failure of the Massachusetts Dental Association shows us that an ineffective ADA is worse than no ADA at all because a victory after 40 years is defeat.

MDA Victory 

One can read from Soderlund’s words that the Massachusetts Dental Association’s “victory” didn’t even slow Delta down. She writes “Delta Dental of Massachusetts has informed the ADA that the new reimbursement methodology will include the development of regional fee schedules. Information on exactly how those regional fee schedules will be developed and how that will affect dentists’ reimbursement has not yet been made available.” Whatever methodology Delta’s actuaries come up with, you can be sure it will be biased against their clients’ interests and will more than make up for the 5% of principals’ money that they conceded after 40 years. We simply must face the fact that the ADA isn’t helping. Soderlund continues: “The company also announced a new voluntary program to compensate dentists for successfully managing the care of higher risk patients. Delta Dental has not yet explained how that compensation would take effect.”

Assessment

Do you trust a Delta Dental consultant – who works on commission – to decide what is best for your patient? Or are you ready to demand that the ADA open our Facebook so we can all tell Delta Dental what we think of their unfair practices on an individual basis guaranteed by the First Amendment? Our patients depend on us to protect them from harm caused by greedy stakeholders. As Soderlund describes it, we’re losing, but not without humor.

Conclusion

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Dr. David Blumenthal Spins “Professionalism”

My Take on “Meaningful Use”

D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

Recently, lawmakers complained that the federal criteria for “meaningful use” of eHRs – usage required before providers who risk purchasing electronic health record systems can be reimbursed – aren’t strict enough to justify the billions of dollars in incentive payments that the government promised physicians and hospitals. Matthew DoBias, writing for ModernHealthcare, quoted Rep. Wally Herger (Calif.) – the senior Republican on the Ways and Means Committee’s health subcommittee – who said:

“The new HIT regulations are a step in the right direction and should put Medicare on a path to improved quality and efficiency. However; by watering down the final regulations, we have missed an opportunity to advance healthcare delivery and ensure wise use of taxpayer money.”

http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20100721/NEWS/100729995/1153

Rep. Wally Herger

“Improved quality” you say, Rep. Herger? That proves that politicians like Herger will say whatever it takes to get elected, even if it’s transparently misleading. Herger’s confident claim of improved quality of care from using eHRs is typical of Washington even though quality claims are widely disputed in most medical circles. And if eHRs were as efficient as Herger and his campaign donor’s claim, then the billions of dollars in incentive payments that have already been billed to our grandchildren wouldn’t be wasted to bribe physicians to purchase eHR systems that are too lousy to move off the shelves. If HIT stakeholders’ products offered value for Americans in the land of the free, they would sell for natural reasons of consumer demand and wouldn’t require a government mandate and Herger’s deception. Besides, what does any politician know about “wise use of taxpayer money” even outside of the medical field, Mr. Herger?

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=doctor+computer&iid=107036″ src=”http://view3.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/107036/medical-professional-using/medical-professional-using.jpg?size=500&imageId=107036″ width=”337″ height=”506″ /]

The Criteria

The criteria for meaningful use have been cut down to 15 issues allegedly because demanding all 25 risked improving care and saving money far too ambitiously. Tony Trenkle, director of the Office of E-Health Standards and Services at CMS, puts his special spin to the “watering down” of requirements. He is quoted in an article by Emily Long in NextGov:

“We set the bar where we felt it was appropriate and also signaled for future stages that we would be setting the bar much higher, We’re going along with ways we can modify to reflect real-life experiences we hit once the program begins.”

Why didn’t Trenkle just say, “We at CMS are making this sucker up as we go”?

http://www.nextgov.com/nextgov/ng_20100720_9874.php?oref=topnews

Dr. David Blumenthal

Dr. David Blumenthal, the national coordinator for health IT, has given up apologizing for bankrupt ideas like the CMS’s criteria for “meaningful use” of electronic health records – as if they made sense. They don’t, and Blumenthal must know that the clicking-for-cash busywork plan he inherited is a waste of time and money. Otherwise, the AMA wouldn’t be complaining.

(See “AMA Weighs in on ‘Meaningful Use’ Requirements For E-Records” – Wall Street Journal Blog)

http://blogs.wsj.com/health/2010/07/21/ama-weighs-in-on-meaningful-use-requirements-for-e-records/  

Surely Dr. Blumenthal recognizes that naive lawmakers like Rep. Wally Herger are foolishly demanding unwanted and dangerous micromanagement of healthcare, not in the interest of patients’ welfare, but for political power. (Do Americans really want Wally Herger from California regulating healthcare?) Rather than attempting to sell systems to doctors based on disingenuous claims of unproven value, Blumenthal chose to punt. All he could offer was a lame appeal to pride: “Much more important than incentives will be a professional sense of obligation,” (Emily Long, NextGov, ibid).

The Oath

Doesn’t the Hippocratic Oath, as well as business survival trump the dangerous nonsense Dr. Blumenthal calls “professional obligations”? As if to emphasize that point, just hours ago, some relevant news was posted concerning the danger of eHRs: “A Massachusetts hospital is under scrutiny after hundreds of thousands of patient and employee records went missing earlier this year. The missing files underscore the problems health care providers face when balancing patient privacy and the need to store massive amounts of data, especially as new federal rules for electronic health records come into play.” (See “Massachusetts Hospital Reports 800,000 Personal Records Missing” by Brian T. Horowitz for eWeek, 7/21/10).

http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Health-Care-IT/Massachusetts-Hospital-Reports-800000-Personal-Records-Missing-638660/ 

Assessment

How does risking such harm to patients rise to the level of a “professional obligation”? I think Dr. Blumenthal might be confusing professionalism with patriotism. They are both traditional, flexible buzzwords that start with the letter “P” and are often used for just about any bureaucratic chore – even so far as to prove diametrically opposing views.

Conclusion

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Thomas Jefferson and ADA Sentiment

A Book Review …  and More!

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS

I’m currently reading “American Sphinx – The Character of Thomas Jefferson” by Joseph J. Ellis (1998). According to Ellis, Jefferson was often accused of plagiarism – sometimes even for lifting quotes from his own work. I think if the gifted writer were technically guilty of such a crime, he arguably had forgotten the origin of the “stolen” ideas – much like a composer who unwittingly copies a catchy riff from an obscure song that emerges years after being devoured.

Answering Critics 

Ellis offers this as Jefferson’s standard answer to his critics:

“’Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing,’ he explained, he drew his ideas from ‘the harmonizing sentiments of the day, whether expressed in letters, printed essays or in the elementary books of pubic right, as Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, etc.’”

We are what we eat.

Not Anonymous

On my good days, I like to compare myself with great people who successfully represented others’ interests in the same spirit as Hippocrates. Like Jefferson, I concentrate sentiment, but in looser wrapped packages. Even though I also cannot always claim authorship of my ideas, like Jefferson, I’m not anonymous.

———————

Wake up, @ADANews. Did you think I was going to somehow disappear? It is probably discouraging to know that I can keep this up for years.

But I don’t think that is necessary. You will surrender soon, ADA, because you are defenseless. You’re policy of silence has you trapped.

Your bureaucracy is caving in on you. The only way out is to renew the ADA’s pledge to be transparent with members. This just has to be.

You can blame one unprofessional ADA member for your PR crisis, and I enthusiastically invite and cherish all blame as a badge of honor.

Yesterday I pointed out that my letter to the editor of the JADA that was never acknowledged suddenly became ME-P’s 8th most popular piece.

ME-P has 221,223 readers … and the JADA? My article had been dormant for months. Know what happened? I posted its link, like this:

Link: https://medicalexecutivepost.com/2009/07/28/journal-of-the-american-dental-association-letter-to-the-editor/ 

I just looked at the article’s rank it popularity. It has climbed to #3. It’s not just me. You are being voted out right now, ADA leaders.

Proots   

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Did you know that Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, ostensibly risks being discounted in today’s history books because scientists discovered he marked out “subjects” and replaced it with “citizens” in the Declaration? That’s petty. You should see some of the nouns, adjectives and verbs I reject in early drafts – sometimes all three derivatives of the same word.

Assessment

It’s my opinion that it is Thomas Jefferson’s religious beliefs that’s keeping vocal conservative activists employed in a bad economy – not his alleged desire to be king. A few, loud, slow-thinkers also shop the lame argument that Obama isn’t a US citizen. Let’s move on, already. Regardless how one feels about the man, citizenship is simply a disingenuous dead-end argument. That’s what I think. But that’s an entirely different rant that will one day get a whole new class of disagreeable people pissed at me. Can’t wait.

Conclusion

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Is the Texas Dental Association too Authoritarian?

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About Employee Mary Kay Linn

[By Darrell Kellus Pruitt; DDS]

Texas Dental Association Executive-Director Mary Kay Linn seems to think that TDA members owe her respect for some reason. I don’t see it. You get what you give TDA employee Mary Kay Linn.

Link: TDA response to Pruitt

I’ve attached the partially answered, authoritarian response from the TDA. I think it speaks for itself. And, I posted the following Twitterpoem today.

Mary Kay Linn, the executive director of the TDA just doesn’t get it.

@theTDA, I received the responses to some of the 30+ questions that were invited by the TDA. Linn’s evasion is transparent and regrettable.

@theTDA, when a Judicial Committee member delivered the PDF, he said Linn told him to tell me that “This is it. No more questions.”

Assessment

He added that: “There will be no follow up responses and that the very busy TDA staff spent far too much time on my questions already.” 

TDA Executive Director Mary Kay Linn, this will not end well for you.

Assessment

How responsive was the TDA; just right, under or overwhelming when pushed? Or, was Dr. Pruitt over-the-top? Does he expect too much from his professional association? Does almost every DDS except him know that the “emperor has no clothes?” Or, is he one member with critical thinking skills instead of blind [misplaced] faith?

Finally, is there an analogy here for the AMA, ADA, APMA, ANA, AOA, etc? Are the aging command-control medical association monopolies crashing down in the era of internet connectivity and professional networking? Do we need new norms and etiquette models of communication? Please opine.

Conclusion

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Some Dental Consultants Say the Most Incredible Things

Are Dentists like … Rodney Dangerfield? 

By Darrell Kellus Pruitt; DDS

“Let’s face it — in our world dentists do not get the respect they deserve. They are not perceived to be ‘real’ doctors … Perhaps the lack of sex appeal in dentistry is part of why dental coverage for everyone is an afterthought in the national health care conversation.”

Gary Kadi DDS, DentistryiQ

http://www.dentaleconomics.com/index/display/article-display/4196579430/articles/dental-economics/volume-100/issue-5/features/the-cavity_in_the.html

Even if Dr. Kadi is correct, and the barrier between a 12 year old and his toothbrush is a world-wide lack of respect of dentistry, that hardly means that electronic dental records (eDR) are going to make the kid brush any better. Experience tells me that if mom’s nagging won’t motivate the stinker, the computer won’t either.

eDR Rationalization?

For those who read the article, did you notice how Dr. Kadi, a dental practice consultant, attempts to subtly insert a fat rationalization for adopting eDRs into the middle of a comment lamenting dentistry’s lack of respect? Tricks like Kadi’s make stakeholders look silly at times, and it bothers me that hardly anyone notices and appreciates the humor that these pros bring to marketplace conversation. That’s why I like to point out mistakes like Kadi’s when I come across them. It’s getting harder to find these kinds of articles about eDRs. My pleasure!

Working Both Sides of the Consulting Fence

As far as I can tell, all but a few dental consultants work both sides of the fence in order to please vendors who give them good deals, as well as dentists who pay for unbiased help. Sponsorship by vendors is the bottom level of a consultant career if one chooses to make a living at selling advice. In this way, the dental consultant business is a lot like the financial advice business. Some advisors push their favorite investments that serve them well no matter what happens to their clients’ money. If a client wants advice, but prefers not to pay full price, interested vendors can be counted on to quietly chip in on an advisor’s bill. And that is why the customer must always be cynical. What’s more, it is arguably one’s community obligation to publicly challenge such artists by luring them out into the open to explain further what they meant to say to naïve people. Dr. Kadi begins:

“The national health-care debate cannot be complete unless we include dental care as part of the discourse.”

He then presents oft-repeated, convincing findings which support the widely held conclusion that one’s overall health is dependent on one’s oral health. Even though this chunk of common sense has recently been supported with well-respected research, the news isn’t a revelation. Other stakeholders have proclaimed the findings as an example of ultra-modern “Evidence-Based Dentistry,” and proof of the need for thousands of their dental products. However, let’s not kid ourselves. A healthy mouth has less to do with computerization than the proper application of a low-tech toothbrush. 10,000 years ago, even buzzards recognized that bad breath from advanced gum disease smells like imminent death from a long way off if the wind is right. The results Dr. Kadi leans his reasons against only confirm traditional Evidence-Based Superstition.

eDR Lobbying 

By half-way through the article Dr. Kadi turned “The cavity in the health-care debate” into a PR piece for eDRs. He’s in so deep that he cannot recognize that his misplaced concerns about image have nothing to do with dental patients’ oral health. Image is only cosmetic.

“A validation [of bringing “sex appeal” to the profession] is the inclusion of dentistry in the recently mandated National Healthcare Information Infrastructure (NHII). The purpose of the NHII is to create an information network to facilitate the creation of an electric health record [eHR] for all aspects of health care. The primary impetus is to achieve interoperability of health information technologies used in the mainstream delivery of health care.”

Note: Dr. Kadi admits that the goal is HIT, and sharing health information is the tool – not the other way around. As anyone can see, that kind of nonsense will never work out well in the US. Why that would be as foolish as stuffing a certifying commission for eHRs with industry, government and academic leaders rather than providers – and then tossing billions of dollars that could otherwise be used for treating disease out in the street for the biggest and fastest stakeholders who grab the most. That would be simply ridiculous.

Dr. Kadi bravely continues: “This will enable an individual’s health care information to be shared by all the necessary health care parties in a secure manner, including dentistry. It will improve patient care and reduce the number of patients, currently 100,000 plus, who die each year due to a lack of accurate, complete, or timely information. The federal government estimates a cost savings of $85 billion to $100 billion per year with electronic health records [eHR].”

Is HIT – Or any IT – Really Secure? 

In a secure manner – really? There are so many other misleading statements in this paragraph as well. First of all, how can an eDR improve a dentist’s chance of successfully extracting a molar in one piece? It can’t. Secondly, how many of the alleged 100,000 victims died because of lack of electronic DENTAL records? Third, how many patients will die because of faulty information in interoperable records that would not have occurred if the records were paper? Fourth, to insinuate that patient information can only be shared over the Internet is plain silly. Telephone, fax and the US mail have been sufficient for dentistry for decades, and none involve HIPAA. Finally, the $85 to $100 billion in savings Dr. Kadi casually throws out is based on a five year old Rand study that’s been widely trashed for being biased in favor of the stakeholders who funded the research. That happens. It just amazes me that anyone in the healthcare industry who knows anything about HIT is foolish enough to still shop discarded garbage. And once again, regardless of the success of electronic medical records, how will eDRs save even $10 in dentistry? It’s impossible without re-defining “savings.”

Cost Savings

“Dentists and hygienists will play a vital role in this cost savings because people who go for regular cleanings will have their medical history updated in the shared system during each visit. In some cases, dental cleanings may be the only medical attention a person receives yearly.”

“Cost savings”? Where have I heard that term? And why didn’t Dr. Kadi simply say “savings”?

Now I remember. It was Dr. Robert Ahlstrom, the ADA’s eDR expert, who coined the handy buzzword in his testimony describing the benefits of paperless dental practices for the US Department of Health and Human Services in July of 2007. “Cost savings to providers and plans will translate in less costly health care for consumers. Premiums and charges will be lowered.” That would be the seventh of his 11 reasons that are each one so lame that other than Dr. Kadi, stakeholders never borrow them. Although it is undeniable that electronic records benefit insurers and the government more than the patient, if Ahlstrom hadn’t been coy, and had clearly stated that eDRs will save money in dentistry, his testimony would have been false. By calling it a “cost savings,” Ahlstrom technically concedes that using eDRs will indeed require an increase in cost of overhead – which dental patients will ultimately have to pay to obtain dental care. The saving part comes from “what could have been.” Whatever that could possibly mean, HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt bought it.

The PennWell Article

Because of a situation beyond my control, I am unable to provide a link, but to find more of my opinion of Ahlstrom’s testimony that is still used by lawmakers to establish national policy, simply google “Dr. Robert Ahlstrom.” My PennWell article from a year ago or so, “Dr. Robert H. Ahlstrom’s controversial HIPAA testimony,” is probably still his first hit. It could be on his first page the rest of his life.

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Assessment

If necessary, I’ll make a few more examples of insensitive HIT stakeholders who know better than to offer such crap to the nation’s lawmakers as well as providers who are too busy to pay attention to the welfare of their profession. The ADA should reassure the nation that there are cheap, effective low-tech ways dental patients can stay healthy that don’t risk their identities and won’t bankrupt a dental practice because of a stolen computer. But; they won’t do it.

Conclusion

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On American Health Care and Financial Services Competitiveness

A MEMORIAL DAY OPINION – EDITORIAL

[Innovation – Not Nationalization – Can Again Lead]

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; FACFAS, MBA, CPHQ, CMP™

[Publisher-in-Chief]

By Hope Rachel Hetico; RN, MHA, CPHQ, CMP™

[Managing Editor]

Ann Miller; RN, MHA

[Executive-Director]

American Flag

On this 2010 Memorial Day weekend, please allow us to directly reflect for a moment on the decline of the healthcare, banking and financial services industry in America. And; then somewhat indirectly comment on the hopeful emergence of the web 2.0 phenomena of which we all are a part. The competitive applicability to these sectors should be appreciated by the insightful ME-P reader.

Collapse of Command and Control Monopolies and Oligarchies   

Old monopolies everywhere are crumbling because of tougher new competitors and the transparency wrought by electronic connectedness. For example, our old newspaper has to compete with the internet, your electric utility company battles low-cost local start-ups, telephone companies must begin installing fiber optic lines to fend off cable companies; and RIAs and fiduciary focused financial advisors [FAs] will supplant BDs and stock brokers in the financial services sector.

www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

cmp-logo

The airline industry collapsed a few years ago, the banking industry has just collapsed, and the auto industry is recovering as we pen this post. [We have a particular affinity for the auto sector however, as the son of a UAW member and step-daughter of Michiganders]. Regardless, the rush to more intense competition cannot be stopped. As a doctor, FA or other business competitor; you either keep pace or get crushed by quasi-oligarchic organizations like the American Medical Association [AMA], American Podiatric Medical Association [FPMA], American Dental Association [ADA], American Osteopathic Medical Association AOMA], Financial Planning Association [FPA], Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards [CFP BoS], College for Financial Planning [CFP] or the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors [NAPFA], etc. What have they, and Wall Street, done for you … lately? Scandal, taint, doubt, lost-credibility, a business-as-usual ennui, lethargy and ruin! Enter www.Sermo.com

Link: https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2009/04/19/calling-for-cfp%c2%ae-fiduciary-status-real-education-and-higher-duty/#comment-4136

Health Insurance Companies

In the last-generation of health insurance companies and related fraternal medical organizations, patients exercised great control over physician selection, had quicker access to specialists and encountered fewer restrictions on care. The reverse was true with financial services. But, because of advancing technology, aging demographics, intense R&D, global manufacturing, and escalating domestic HR costs – competitive market forces against traditional and structured staff model managed care companies – many industry analysts [like us] predicted growth would decline [Yes, greed was also involved as healthcare was presumed a recession-proof sector; and didn’t we all own behemoth big-pharma and HMO stocks in our 401-K, and 403-B plans]? But now, many former stock-brokers and FAs are going rogue; er – independent!

“Although inefficiencies in any business often open up in the short term, and can be greatly exploited by creative and visionary entrepreneurs – as in most business structures – market forces will prevail in the long run”.

Leo F. Mullin, MBA

[Former CEO – Delta Airlines]Shadows

Next-Gen with “Fly”

Fortunately, a new generation of enlightened physician and FA entrepreneurs is coming “out-of-the-shadows” as new-wave web 2.0 corporations and RIAs are becoming more flexible, competitive and market responsive. Simultaneously, monolithic and collectivist political ideas keep trying to regulate the medical and financial services workplace with rules, regulations and contracts to control entire populations. Yet, in the new healthcare economy, this new generation of doctors and FAs with “fly,” is headed toward more competition; not less – with more collaboration with patients and clients – regaining self autonomy.

Physician and FA Advocates

Meanwhile, as medical professionals, FAs and patient advocates, we must all choose between staying flexible to ride out tough times – or – adopting a hard, brittle line that will crack under the pressure of competition. We know where we stand at the ME-P, do you?

Flexibility and Virtual Reality

In recent years, many large corporations and top-down business models were not market responsive and change was not inherent in their DNA. These traditional organizations represented a rigid or “used-to-be” mentality, not a flexible or “wanna-be” mindset; according to business columnist Alan Webber. Some financial advisory corporations, and today’s emerging health 2.0 initiatives, may possess the market nimbleness that cannot be recreated in a controlled or collectivist [nationalistic] environment. And so, going forward, it is not difficult to imagine the following new rules for the new financial and virtual medical ecosystem.

[A] Rule No. 1

Forget about “SEC suitability and FINRA rules”, large office suites, surgery centers, fancy equipment, larger hospitals and the bricks and mortar that comprised traditional medical practices or financial product delivery systems. One doctor or niche focused FA with a great idea, good bedside manners or competitive advantage, can outfox a slew of public servants, the AMA, SEC, ADA or FINRA “faux copy-cat examiners”, while still serving the public – and patients – and making money. It’s now a unit-of-one economy where “Me Inc.”, is the standard. Physicians and FAs must maneuver for advantages that boost their standing and credibility among patients, peers, payers, customers and clients. Examples include patient satisfaction surveys; outcomes research analysis, evidence-based-medicine, physician economics credentialing and true integrated fiduciary-focused financial planning.

However, we should also realize the power of networking, vertical integration and the establishment of virtual RIAs or medical practices, which come together to treat a patient, or help a client, and then disband when a successful outcome is achieved. Job security is earned with more successful outcomes; not necessarily a degree, automatic AUMs, certifications or onsite presence. In fact, some competition experts, like Shirley Svorny PhD, a professor of economics and chair of the Department of Economics at California State University, wonder if a medical degree is a barrier – rather than enabler – of affordable healthcare.

Link: https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2009/01/08/medical-licensing-obstacle-to-affordable-quality-care

Others even presume the establishment of virtual medical schools and hospitals, where students and doctors learn and practice their art on cyber-entities that look and feel like real patients, but are generated electronically through the wonders of virtual reality units. The same can be said for the financial services industry, although much farther down-line given its current slow rate of real education and quasi-professional acceptance.

[B] Rule No. 2

Challenge conventional wisdom, think outside the traditional box, recapture your dreams and ambitions, disregard conventional gurus and work harder than you have ever worked before. Remember the old saying, “if everyone is thinking alike, then nobody is thinking”. Do collective-nistas and nationalized healthcare advocates react rationally; or irrationally? [THINK: Wall Street, medical unions]

[C] Rule No 3

Differentiate yourself among your healthcare and financial advisory peers. Do or learn something new and unknown by your competitors. Market your accomplishments and let the world know. Be a non-conformist. Conformity is an operational standard and a straitjacket on creativity. Doctors and FAs should create and innovate, not blindly follow organization or political “union” leaders [shop stewards, BDs, etc] into oblivion.

[D] Rule No 4

Realize that the present situation is not necessarily the future. Attempt to see the future and discern your place in it. Master the art of the quick change with fast but informed decision making. Do what you love, disregard what you don’t, and let the fates have their way with you. Then, decide for yourself if you are of this ilk – and adhere to any of the above rules? Or, just become an employed [government, BD] doctor or FA shill. Just remember that the political party, or monopoly that can give you a job, can also take it away [THINK: LB, ML, Wachovia, national healthcare, etc].

CP 1

Memorial Day Considerations

Finally, on this Memorial Day weekend, consider that life and career is a journey, and that in this country we have the choice to ponder or pursue any, and all of the above options, and more. We have the ability to think, cogitate and ruminate, as we have done here today. So – please – thank those who have helped turn this idealistic philosophy, into pragmatic daily reality.

For us personally, we thank Bonze Star Medal Winner Captain Cecelia T. Perez, RN. Now – ponder and consider – who do you thank? If no one has impacted you up-close on this Memorial Day weekend and national holiday, please visit our military channel to reflect, comment and opine.

Link: https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/category/military-medicine

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Understanding the Mental Healthcare Regulatory Environment

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Appreciating the Rules

[By Carol Miller; RN, MBA]

Carol S. MillerLocal counties and municipalities are the primary providers of state mental healthcare for patients who lack private insurance coverage for such care.

Both children and adults may be eligible to receive assistance.

These counties provide a wide range of psychiatric and counseling services to the residents in their community as well as other types of assistance such as:

  • treatment services related to substance abuse;
  • housing;
  • employment services;
  • information and education service;
  • referrals;
  • consultative services to schools, courts and other agencies;
  • after-care services; and other related activities.

mental

Rules and Regulations

Accordingly, regulations from federal, state, and county governments have an impact on the day-to-day operations, procedures and processes of a county mental health center. Traditionally, there are three main types of regulations.

Federal Regulations — The United States healthcare system is guided by programs such as those established under the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (in the case of county mental health programs, Medicaid is especially important), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and others.

State Regulations — These include general legislative guidelines, state management of benefits and reimbursement of the Medicaid program, and state allocations of budgets, which impact the centers’ operations.

County Regulations — Each county defines its own County Mental Health Program and decides which services will be provided or excluded.

Assessment

County facilities generally include outpatient clinics, county mental health programs, short-term psychiatric facilities, day-care centers, de-toxification centers, residential rehabilitation centers for substance abuse, long-term care psychiatric facilities, and Veterans Affairs (VA) psychiatric centers. The county centers may be co-located with other county services such as social services, occupational rehabilitation services, information technology services, human resources, maintenance services, and others or may be independently located.

Conclusion

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Do We Have A False Sense of HIT Security?

Data Breaches More Common than Realized

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS

Here is an article titled “Report: Healthcare Organizations may have a False Sense of Data Security,” written by Neil Versel for FierceHealthIT.

http://www.fiercehealthit.com/story/report-healthcare-organizations-may-have-false-sense-data-security/2010-04-12?sms_ss=twitter#ixzz0kzNS6lq

Versel describes the results of a study commissioned by Nashville, Tenn-based Kroll Fraud Solutions. Kroll estimates that 19% of healthcare organizations in the nation suffered a data breach in the last 12 months. That number is up from 13% a year ago. It is based on this information that I estimate that in the last year, at least 24 million dental patients in the nation have been unknowingly exposed to the danger of identity theft. Everyone agrees that the only ethical thing for a dentist to do if he or she knows that patients’ identities have been exposed is to notify the patients and HHS. The shameful fact is, data breaches in dentistry are not being reported.

Enter the Dentists  

But, who can blame American dentists for underreporting breaches without first blaming the heavy-handed, stakeholder-friendly system that forces honest professionals to be dishonest? If a dentist self-reports a breach of 500 or more patients’ Protected Health Information (PHI) it can easily bankrupt a practice. The harm to one’s reputation in the community is just too great a disincentive for even the best of us, even without the added expense of patient notification, subsequent fines and lawsuits. It’s ugly, but that’s the hard, hidden truth about HITECH-HIPAA in dentistry – a piece of lame, one-sided “feel good” legislation that rather than preventing data breaches in dentists’ offices, it drives them underground. As healthcare providers, we should have warned our patients about the growing danger from electronic dental records long ago. Besides me, there are no practicing dentists discussing the topic. Why?

Accepting Ownership of the Dilemma  

Would anyone like to argue that the bi-partisan federal mandate for an interoperable, national eHR system relieves dentists of their obligations to the Hippocratic Oath? Let’s face it: Dentists’ computers continue to threaten up to 20% of dental patients in the nation. We cannot ignore it any longer, doctors.  Once we finally accept ownership of our problem, what are we going to do about it? I’ve suggested that we use common sense and simply remove the dangerous information from dental patients’ files. Anyone see any problem with this idea? Anyone have a better solution?

Assessment 

So what do the leaders of the ADA think of de-identification?

 

Conclusion

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Need a New Career in Dentistry – Become a Consultant

Or – Maybe Just a Hobby

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS

One might ask how much knowledge of dentistry is required before a person is qualified to call oneself a “dental practice management consultant” – beyond maybe being able to spell HIPAA with only one P, and Hippocrates with two.

Meet Jill Coon, Inc

An anonymous management consultant who works for Jill Coon, Inc of Florida posted this brave suggestion on the company Facebook today:

“Why not take 3 max anterior PA’s and 1 mandibular PA once a year with bitewings to check for caries in front teeth? We actually bill insurance for 3 PA’s not 4. Hygiene production just increased!”

My Translation 

Here is a translation of her question from dental-speak to English:

“Why don’t dentists take routine x-rays of front teeth like they do for back teeth, when doing so increases hygiene production and payments from the insurance companies?”

[Dental team members, please sit on your hands for this one].

Bonus Round 

Bonus question: Can anyone think of any reason why one might not want additional routine x-rays – even if insurance pays for it at 100% (of usual and customary fees)?

Hint: It can be trickier to avoid irradiating the thyroid when taking anterior x-rays than while taking routine bitewing x-rays.

Assessment 

I’ll be back soon with the tricky opinion I will have posted on Jill Coon, Inc Facebook. It will be her first if nobody beats me to it.

http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/West-Palm-Beach-FL/Jill-Coon-Inc/125510596754?v=wall&ref=mf

Conclusion

Is there anyone out there with almost no knowledge of dental care who wants to match wits with a sales rep for a consulting company that “specializes in dental insurance billing and treatment planning for dental practices”?

Industry Indignation Index: 47

How about it – HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, JD?

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A New Survey on Dental Insurance

Come on out Kim E. Volk – CEO of Delta Dental

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS

Today, Julie Frey posted “Dentist & Dental Insurance: No Love Lost” on Jim Du Molin’s Blog.

http://www.thewealthydentist.com/blog/1186/dentist-dental-insurance/

Frey hosts dentists’ frank criticism of dental insurance – their harsh sentiments backed up with fresh results from yet another of the blog’s timely studies that nobody else can compete with. Frey writes “Half of dentists have mostly or completely stopped accepting dental insurances, according to this survey.”  One dentist captured the mood of the dentists with the statement, “Do the math … somebody is making hell of a lot of money on these plans, and it is not the dentist!” I smelled blood and posted the following comment.

Bloody Sunday

Anonymous members of the obscure National Association of Dental Plans (NADP) are losing the fat, collective thumb they once oppressed us with – even using our own ADA News to present their non-negotiable terms. Apart from common sense appearing in the marketplace about the same time as transparency, multiple other interconnected factors are causing dental insurance companies to lose business. The bad economy, corporate greed and pride are a few of their more serious handicaps that come to mind. Wasteful, deceptive insurance practices have aggravated my patients and me for decades before modern networked recourse became available on the Internet through progressive Websites like Jim Du Molin’s Blog. I’ll go out on a limb and say it is not unprofessional for us to enjoy protecting those we serve by showing no mercy to unfair stakeholders like the NADP.

There. I said it. In fact, as US citizens and taxpayers I think blowing the whistle on unneeded expense and danger in the nation’s healthcare delivery is the least we can do for meaningful healthcare reform. I say do your part. Make an insurance CEO like Delta Dental Plans Association’s Kim E. Volk feel discomfort on the Internet. Do you know that Kim E. Volk is the only person who has ever refused to accept me as a friend on Facebook?

http://www.jbpub.com/catalog/9780763733421/

Assessment 

We really don’t want to allow Delta Dental, UnitedHealthcare, United Concordia and others to dictate fees for non-covered dental services, do we? I also don’t think they deserve continued protection from FTC anti-trust litigation. I say we punish the NADP hard every chance we get until the repeal of the McCarran-Ferguson Act and finally make such in-your-face collusion illegal for crying out loud.

Conclusion

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Electronic Medical Records and Dentistry

A Note to Diane Rehm

[By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS]

Dear Diane Rehm,

I always enjoy your show.

You add value to my drive to work.

As a dentist, I was especially interested in your March 10 show “Electronic Medical Records.”

http://wamu.org/programs/dr/10/03/10.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+WAMU885DianeRehm+%28WAMU%3A+The+Diane+Rehm+Show%29&utm_content=FaceBook#30598

In all the excitement that surrounds the 19 billion dollars our grandchildren have unwittingly granted to physicians and hospitals for “meaningful” adoption of certified eMRs, you probably haven’t noticed that nobody is talking about including dentistry in the conversion from paper to digital. Do you find that odd?

Small and Mid Sized Practices

Like small and mid sized physicians’ practices, small dental practices are intended to be part of the federal mandate for interoperable eMR adoption – even without the help from stimulus money that physicians receive. You probably weren’t aware that the stimulus money will run out before HHS gets around to defining “meaningful use” of eMRs in dental office. That would be impossible, but nevertheless, I anticipate that the attempts will be entertaining. Physicians in small practices typically have tens of thousands of paper charts as thick as phone books. On the other hand, a busy solo dental practice, like the majority of practices in the US, might have 5,000 files that are very thin in comparison to files that involve the whole body instead of just the bottom third of the face. That makes sense, doesn’t it?

Marginal Benefits May Not Exceed Marginal Costs 

I listened to your guest Dr. Carol Horn, who practices internal medicine in private practice, as well as others involved in the actual delivery of healthcare. They list not only the benefits of eMR adoption, but in fairness, they also described the expense and liability of digital records that continue long after the tedious and dangerous conversion from paper to digital. In other words, it appears that the benefits for physicians barely make the effort worth the price, even with 19 billion dollars in help.

Editor’s Note: In economics, we say that the marginal benefits may not exceed the marginal costs; all things being equal.

Assessment 

And so, it occurs to me that if dentists are to be included in the plans for digital interoperability, we will be very, very slow adopters for natural reasons: like eMRs in physicians’ offices, eMRs in dentists’ offices are more expense and trouble than they are worth – even before considering the bankruptcy-level liability of a data breach.

Most of those who champion eMRs for the entire healthcare system in the nation don’t realize that the bottleneck in dental offices isn’t the front desk. It’s the dentist who is hopefully taking his or her time providing care with those hands instead of working a keyboard.

Conclusion

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Are You Prepared for a HIPAA Dental Audit?

Why – or Why Not?

By D. Kellus Pruitt; DDS

If you are a dentist and pay ADA dues year after year to be kept better informed about protecting your patients as well as your practice, your ignorance of HIPAA is not entirely your fault. The ADA clearly dropped the ball. Nevertheless, you could still suffer fines as high as $1.5 million for what our leaders failed to emphasize.

It’s time members accept the shameful truth about the ADA Department of Dental Informatics, headed by Ms. Jean Narcisi. Narcisi, working under the direction of ADA Sr. Vice President Dr. John Luther, has been abysmally negligent in preparing members for HITECH HIPAA, and now the compliance deadline is only days away. It’s been months since any information about HIPAA has been published in any ADA publications. Why?

HIPAA Avoidance 

Why do ADA leaders avoid discussing HIPAA? They are ashamed, not unlike embarrassed scam victims. About six years ago, Newt Gingrich visited ADA Headquarters and “lied” to ADA Delegates about the future of eHRs in the US. Then he bribed the ambitious career bureaucrats in the crowd with millions of dollars in federal grants to play along with the scam. I can only imagine that the Delegates must have been star-struck by the former Speaker of the House, because nobody dared asked the tough questions.

Newt’s Slick

So here I am, Ms. Jean Narcisi. I’m again doing your job because your mistakes I pointed out years ago now have you frozen in shame. If you disagree, and consider self-respect as something worth defending, let’s discuss your innocence in front of everyone – including the ADA members who pay your salary. Or, you can continue to hide from your responsibilities. This crap will catch up with you soon enough, Ms. Narcisi, and Dr. Luther no longer has the courage to stick his neck out to protect you. He’s also scared of me. You are alone.

Newsletters 

Dom Nicastro, senior managing editor at HCPro, edits the Briefings on HIPAA and Health Information Compliance Insider newsletters. He posted an informative article on HealthLeadersMedia.com today titled “HIPAA Compliance Questions to Ask as HITECH Date Nears.”

http://www.healthleadersmedia.com/page-1/TEC-246514/HIPAA-Compliance-Questions-to-Ask-as-HITECH-Date-Nears

The article features Chris Apgar, CISSP, president, Apgar & Associates, LLC, in Portland, Oregon. Mr. Apgar notes that “many covered entities and business associates have consistently failed to comply with the HIPAA Security Rule.” Apgar adds, “I find this over and over when conducting compliance audits.”

The lack of compliance described by Apgar is consistent with the results from my study in 2008, “HIPAA Rules and Dentistry.”

https://healthcarefinancials.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/hipaa-survey-dentists4.pdf

Study Abstract

A survey of 18 dentists was performed using the Internet as a platform. The volunteer dentists’ anonymity was guaranteed. The dentists were presented with ten HIPAA compliancy requirements followed by a series of questions concerning their compliancy as well as the importance of the requirements in dental practices.

The range of compliancy was found to be from 0% for the requirement of a written workstation policy to 88% for that of password security. The average was 49%, meaning that less than half of the requirements are being respected by the dentists in this sample.

Frustrated at Mandates

Frustration with the tenets of the mandate, as well as open defiance is evident by the written responses. In addition, it appears that a dentist’s likelihood of satisfying a requirement is related to the dentist’s perceived importance of the requirement. Even though this is a limited pilot study, there is convincing evidence that more thorough investigation concerning the cost and benefits of the requirements need to be performed before enforcement of the HIPAA mandate is considered for the nation’s dental practices. 

HIPAA

Questions to Consider

Apgar says that the security rule requires covered entities to consider these questions:

  • Has a risk analysis been conducted lately? Was it properly documented? Were damages mitigated and were the risks acceptable?
  • Is privacy/security training current? Have new workforce members who will have access to personal health information (PHI) been adequately trained? Has refresher training for all staff been accomplished? Have security reminders been provided?
  • Are the office policies and procedures complete, current and enforceable? Are workforce members trained on the policies and procedures they are required to respect?
  • Has a comprehensive audit program been implemented? (The security rule requires three periodic audits and an “evaluation” or compliance audit). Are evaluations current? Have audit findings been addressed and documented?
  • Have up to date disaster recovery and emergency mode operations plans been communicated and recently tested?
  • Are CMS’ remote access guidelines being followed? (These are not part of the rule, but CMS earlier indicated remote access management would be included as audit criteria).
  • Are data in transit and data at rest encrypted? Are non-electronic PHI being protected?

Office of Civil Rights

Mr. Apgar adds that even though the Office of Civil Rights isn’t saying when audits will start, if a complaint is filed with OCR alleging ”willful neglect,” OCR is mandated by statute to investigate. The fines for “willful neglect” are much more devastating than fines for simple carelessness. And “willful neglect” is a subjective judgment call made by inspectors … who work on commission.

Assessment

Unfortunately for the nation’s dentists, the statute invites disgruntled patients and employees to celebrate revenge via federal inspectors. And, the more dentists are fined, the more the inspectors make. That can’t end well. Where are you hiding, Jean Narcisi? You’ve been silent far too long. Let’s talk. Don’t make me come get you.

Editor’s Note: The applicability of this post to all medical specialties is obvious.

Conclusion

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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.

http://community.pennwelldentalgroup.com/profiles/blogs/dental-news-of-the-day-for

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?

Assessment 

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.

Conclusion

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DrBicuspid.com is Biased against Dentists

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More on Delta Dental

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS

Kathy Kincade, Editor-in-Chief of DrBicuspid posted the article, “Studies urge adding adult dental benefits to Medicare” on January 29, 2010.

http://www.drbicuspid.com/index.aspx?sec=sup&sub=pmt&pag=dis&ItemID=303755

Ms. Kincade has always been generous to Delta Dental, making me suspect that she is less than unbiased.

Of Delta Dental

For example, at the end of the article, she devotes the last words about dental coverage for the elderly to an advertisement for Delta:

“Through a relationship with Delta Dental, the AARP offers the AARP Dental Insurance Plan, a dental PPO for AARP members that includes more than 100,000 dentist locations across the U.S. Delta also offers individual plans that are ‘particularly popular among retirees,’ according to Chris Pyle, director of public relations and community benefits at Delta Dental.”

Kincade closes her ad with a quote from Chris Pyle:

“Delta Dental has been a pioneer in developing affordable dental insurance options for those who do not have coverage through an employer. Retirees who take the time to do the math are finding individual and family dental insurance plans to be a wise option.”

How much does advertisement space on DrBicuspid go for these days?

Dr. Hamm                     

That is when Dr. Hamm got involved. He first requested that Chris Pyle document his claim:

”Prove it, Mr. Pyle. Let’s see your figures. Be sure to include comparison of the quality of care between PPO dentistry and fee-for-service dentistry. Do you think discounting fees – even for non-covered expenses – improves the quality of intricate care?”

When Dr. Hamm failed to get an immediate response, he went to the source. Here is what he had to say to the Editor in Chief of DrBicuspid:

——————————————————–

Kathy Kincade, pardon me for being straightforward, but at the risk of making it difficult for DrBicuspid reporters to obtain future interviews with Delta Dental PR professionals and ADA presidents, I proclaim that it is DrBicuspid readers’ rights – indeed Americans’ obligation – to challenge unsupported, self-serving statements that strategically discount facts in healthcare to protect stakeholders from principals (that would be dentists and patients).

DDPA Employee 

Chris Pyle, the on again – off again DDPA employee, isn’t the first Delta PR specialist who has told DrBicuspid outrageous statements before failing to answer the bell when challenged. A year ago, in an article by DrBicuspid Associate Editor Rabia Mughal, another shy and unaccountable Delta Dental PR professional poked his head up before diving for cover. Delta employee Ari Adler is reported to have said that “direct reimbursement to out-of-network dentists is a problem because it allows them to enjoy the benefits provided by the network without following cost guidelines and quality control measures of the network.”

http://www.drbicuspid.com/index.aspx?sec=sup&sub=pmt&pag=dis&ItemID=301436

“We put our dentists thorough a credentialing process and provide quality assurance. That means if a dentist does a filling that should last a certain amount of time and it doesn’t, they have to fix it without charging the network or the patients.” 

– Ari Adler, communications administrator at Delta Dental of Indiana

Even after repeated requests for an explanation of Delta’s unprecedented guarantee of dental work done by Delta’s preferred providers, Ari Adler, a very popular master of Twitter who also teaches PR as a part-time job, declined to answer (So much for popularity on Twitter). I assume the PR and social network expert thinks that since he’s the Communications Administrator for such a powerful company, he’s protected from accountability. Besides, American dentists love and respect Delta Dental, don’t they?

Dr. Ron Tankersley

And; what about Dr. Ron Tankersley who is President of the American Dental Association. Is he also simply too good to talk with us?

————————————————

I may or not know Dr. John Hamm. I know Editor in Chief Kathy Kincade, though. She kicked me off of DrBicuspid over a year ago – the day before DrBicuspid consummated a contractual relationship with the ADABEI to receive the ADA seal of approval.

An Invitation

I should warn readers that I could be wrong about what may have been just an odd coincidence, so I invite you, Kathy Kincade, to discuss journalism ethics with me on Pruitt’s Platform. I trust someone will warn you, Kathy, of this invitation before it comes up on your first page in a Google search. My article “DrBicuspid, the ADA and split allegiances” from 2/15/09 is the 8th hit already. Now do you remember me?

http://community.pennwelldentalgroup.com/forum/topics/drbicuspid-the-ada-and-split

Assessment 

Come on out, Kathy. I’ve been waiting for this a long time. Come on out where everyone can see you defend Delta Dental. Please invite Brian Casey as well. He was the Editorial Director of IMV Publishing a year ago. Is he still around – policing the Internet?

Conclusion

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Shopping for Health Software

Some Doctors Get Buyer’s Remorse

By D. Kellus Pruitt; DDS

Dear Huffington Post Investigative Fund

As a dentist, I read Emma Schwartz’s “Shopping for Health Software, Some Doctors Get Buyer’s Remorse” with interest.

It was like watching a slow, grinding train wreck from a still safe, but shrinking distance.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/29/shopping-for-health-softw_n_442651.html

Duped Physicians 

The numerous stories about physicians who lost hundreds of thousands of dollars because of bad software purchases – including the case where some doctors alleged they were locked out of their patients’ medical records – is awe inspiring if one isn’t mandated to live the misery. I hope it’s a long, long time before paper dental practices are outlawed. If as Ms. Schwartz describes, broad-band interoperability fails to save money for physicians where it makes sense, I promise that dentists will never invest in interoperability beyond occasionally purchasing a new fax machine, telephone, or postage stamps. Dentistry simply isn’t emergency room medicine, and non-productive technology is especially costly if it fails to function properly.

A Volatile Industry 

Steven Lazarus, president of consulting company Boundary Information Group, was quoted:

 “This is a very volatile industry. Any product doctors buy could be bought or changed within two years.”

You want to see volatile? Try explaining that to thousands of disappointed dentists in solo practices – one disagreeable SOB at a time.

A Canadian Illustration 

Believe it or not, there’s still more kinetic energy behind the train wreck – even without mentioning data breach bankruptcies. As illustrated by Schwartz’s example of Canada-based MedcomSoft, even if a company’s EHR system is CCHIT-certified, bankruptcy can occur unexpectedly – again leaving doctors holding the bag. To stay in business, providers who lose money on EHRs either must cut corners or increase fees to cover the loss … volatile!

A Dentist’s Question 

Why, oh why, would a dentist want to spend $40,000 on software including thousands of man-hours in transition, just to risk pulling this tangled, expensive mess down on top of one’s practice? And – for what? There is no return on investment beyond the stakeholders in the EHR industry – which is ultimately paid by unrepresented patients through their healthcare in higher medical fees. As one can imagine, dentists are staying away from EHRs in droves.

For example, what does it mean that there are few if any advertisements for electronic dental records in industry journals, junk mail ads or Internet venues? I think it means that the Father of Economics Adam Smith is quietly warning ambitious, would-be dental software salespeople that their dangerous and expensive products will get them thrown out of dental offices.

The ADA 

But then again, I could be wrong. Here is what Dr. John Findley, the immediate past president of the American Dental Association, told ADA Reporter Judy Jakush in a September 2008 interview a month before taking office:

“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.’ That’s why we absolutely need the profession to be represented in the discussions about EHR to make sure our ideas are enacted to the greatest extent possible.”

To me, that’s scary. It smells a lot like tyranny.

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I Want Obama Transparency for the ADA

No More Hiding Places

By D. Kellus Pruitt; DDS

Today, Ed O’Keefe of the Washington Post posted “New Obama Orders on Transparency, FOIA Requests.”

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/federal-eye/2009/01/_in_a_move_that.html

O’Keefe writes:

“In a move that pleased good government groups and some journalists, President Obama issued new orders today designed to improve the federal government’s openness and transparency. The first memo instructs all agencies and departments to ‘adopt a presumption in favor’ of Freedom of Information Act requests, while the second memo orders the director of the Office of Management and Budget to issue recommendations on making the federal government more transparent.”

Soon, other ADA members are going to bluntly ask Pres Dr. Ron Tankersley:

“If the President of the United States has the courage to face those whom his actions affect, why oh why doesn’t the President of the American Dental Association support transparency in the non-profit organization that belongs to dues-paying members?” After all, ADA members pay more than $1000 per year for ADA services.”

“If you are an ADA leader, pay close attention. This is the future I warned you about that far too many of you avoided out of convenience. As you can read below in his memos, Obama promises, “The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears.”

Who will be held accountable for the ADA/IDM blunder… among other bone-head ideas?

Obama promises that his administration:

“Will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.”

I think openness will do the same in healthcare if we can move a handful of entrenched ADA leaders on down the road. They are weighing us down with their selfish special interests.

Assessment 

Did you hear that, Dr. Ron Tankersley, President of the American Dental Association? There are simply no more hiding places for the anonymous ADA hobbyists who elected you. I’m sure the long run of irrelevant ADA Presidents was fun before electricity and social networks, though.

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Who Admires the EU Healthcare Model?

Not so Fast – Old Man 

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS – el Viejo

Here’s something interesting I found on Courthouse News.com about Germany’s mandatory retirement age for dentists.

“EU Court OK’s Age Limits for Firefighters, Dentists” (no byline).

http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/01/14/European_Courts.htm

European Court of Justice  

“The European Court of Justice released a ruling reconciling a ban on age discrimination with German age limits for firefighting and dentistry.”  

The article continues:

“For dentists, the high court agreed with the national court that an age limit is justified by the need to protect patients from declining performance.”

As we wait for octogenarian Gordon Christensen DDS to discover and describe the lame “declining performance” claim in that statement, let me focus on the rest of the paragraph:

“But it said that such a limit must apply across the board, not only for panel-certified dentists within the public sector, but also for private practitioners.”

Touting the Next Generation of Dentists  

It gets worse. The EU openly states that it intends to hand young dentists (and mid-level providers?) an immediate chance at making swell money with a huge demand for dental care that will arise when thousands of thriving dental practices across Europe close.

“The Court of Justice also agreed that such a limit is reasonable to provide work positions for young dentists, but only if it can be proven to fulfill this purpose.”

Assessment 

Hell, I’ll probably still have kids in college if US HIT stakeholders fall in love with this plan. Not only that, but since thousands of dental practices like mine will be up for sale at the same time, the business I’ve built over the last 27 years will be worthless on the open market. 

So what are my plans? I hope the ADA is adequately protecting Americans from such folly.

And – if not?

Porque hablo español, tengo la intención de mover el culo viejo a una ciudad en la costa en México y sacar dientes a los extranjeros ilegales a su regreso desde el norte. ¡Viva el NAFTA!

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