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On Private Equity-Owned Dental Practices

The boom and bust of private equity-owned dental practices in the U.K …. Lessons to be learned?

By Kellus Pruitt DDS

“Why the dental business became more and more like pulling teeth,” by Harry Wilson, City Editor of The Times (U.K.)

Describes problems caused by agreements made between investor-owned dental groups and the government. Neither the investors nor government officials – the stakeholders – will suffer the inevitable permanent harm. The losers are dentists and patients – the principals.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/why-the-dental-business-became-more-and-more-like-pulling-teeth-vdrs0nwrr

Wilson:

If you are an NHS dental patient, there is a better than one in ten chance that you are a customer of Integrated Dental Holdings, better known as Mydentist.

The private equity-owned dental practice owner has grown nationwide in a dozen years of debt-fuelled buying that has made it the biggest dental services company not merely in Britain but Europe. In the past seven years alone, Mydentist has acquired 237 dental practices, increasing its network to more than 600.

Yet having grown so rapidly in the recent past, questions now are being asked about its future. Results last month showed why, as revenues fell for the third straight year, while pre-tax losses nearly doubled to £144 million. With more than £1 billion of debt, including hundreds of millions in shareholder loans to The Carlyle Group and Palamon Capital Partners, its private equity owners, Mydentist said that it would not be buying any more dentist surgeries for the time being. (more).

———————

Bringing it home:

Rumors of “Medicare for all” are in the air, making your support of Texas Dentists for Medicaid Reform very worthwhile, Doc.

https://www.tdmr.org/about-tdmr/

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Dental EHRs are a Scam?

Electronic dental records are a scam. They have always been a scam.

By Darrell Pruitt DDS

“Microsoft & Google unable to detect new zero-day ransomware.” By Anthony Spadafora for ITProPortal, February 7, 2018
https://www.itproportal.com/news/microsoft-google-unable-to-detect-new-zero-day-ransomware/

Spadafora: “The ShurL0ckr ransomware was able to avoid detection by a majority of anti-virus engines and cloud applications. As organisations have adopted cloud services to increase their productivity and agility, so to have hackers who see cloud services as the next big target for distributing malware and stealing sensitive data from businesses and individuals.”

Over a decade ago, I warned the American Dental Association leadership about EHRs’ poor security. So did ADA leadership warn Congress? Oh hell no.

“Patient records will be adequately protected through organizational policies and technical security controls.”Dr. Robert H. Ahlstrom, representing the ADA in testimony before the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics (NCVHS) on the benefits of EHRs in dentistry.

(See: “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

Assessment

Conflict of interest caused unaccountable leaders to lie to us, Doc. How does that make you feel?

Conclusion:

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Did ADA Leaders Mislead Congress about EDR Security?

 Electronic Dental Records [EDR] Security?

By Darrell K. Pruitt DDS

“Terrifying Truth: Ransomware is Everywhere – At its basest level, ransomware is a form of kidnapping. Hackers effectively ‘kidnap’ a business’s data and information systems and threaten to destroy it unless the business pays a ransom for its safe return.”

Todd Lewis for Nibletz [October 24, 2017]
http://www.nibletz.com/security/ransomware

Lewis: “Healthcare and hospital networks are prime targets for these attacks. A patient whose medical service provider is unable to access critical patient information can be in a life-or-death situation unless the healthcare network is rapidly recovered and brought back on line. Cyberattackers take advantage of this urgency and realize that hospitals have greater incentives to pay a ransom to recover their systems and operations. Moreover, hospital networks operate on a 24-hour basis and are rarely taken down for maintenance and updating that might include patches for security holes. Ransomware attacks frequently take advantage of holes in networks that have not been patched with regular updates, and hospitals and medical centers are more likely than businesses in other industries to have failed to close those holes.”

ADA: “Dentists will have a more complete data set of the patient they are treating, enabling better care.”

Dr. Robert H. Ahlstrom, representing the American Dental Association and by default, all US dentists, in testimony 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.”
https://www.ncvhs.hhs.gov/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/070731p08.pdf

Insightful or clueless dentist?

Conclusion

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***

HITECH: A politically-correct Scam?

Update on HITECH

By Kellus Pruitt DDS

“How bad science can lead to bad science journalism — and bad policy – This is what happens when news organizations don’t catch lousy studies.”

By Stephen Soumerai and Ross Koppel for The Washington Post, June 7, 2017/

Https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2017/06/07/how-bad-science-can-lead-to-bad-science-journalism-and-bad-policy/?Utm_term=.631e0a2d022c#comments

Soumerai and Koppel:  “As researchers who focus on health care, we see news coverage of badly designed studies constantly. And we’re concerned that breathless reporting on bad science can result in costly, ineffective and even harmful national policies.”

You mean like HITECH?

Since the HITECH Act was passed in 2009, it has been well-documented that not only were the premises of the law fiction, but the law itself has always favored healthcare stakeholders like Cerner at the expense of patients and their doctors – the healthcare principals.

The grandest blunder in medical history gained traction in 1999 with an Institute of Medicine (IOM) report titled, “To Err is Human,” which promises that EHRs should have already saved 100,000 lives a year … Not even close. Not unlike the dangerous research bias described in Soumerai and Koppel’s article that was posted recently, several researchers have also pointed out that the studies cited in the IOM report did not show that people were dying from medical errors that health information technology could detect or correct.

The questionable IOM report was followed in 2005 by a tainted RAND Corporation report which promised savings of $77 billion annually… Wrong again!

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Shortly after the report was published, rumors quickly spread that the data for the study were cherry-picked by those with software to sell. By 2011, the passage of time revealed that RAND had clearly made a vendor-friendly mistake, forcing RAND to disown their study – but not before its optimistic conclusion was instrumental in the successful passage of the HITECH Act in 2009 (two years after Minnesota lawmakers had already passed the doomed EHR mandate based on the same tainted RAND results).

Political Fiat

Then presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was only one of many lawmakers to quote the RAND study. Almost everyone the nation was suckered in. Ultimately, it was revealed that the study’s vendor-friendly conclusion was largely financed by software giant Cerner, who continues to profit from years of misinformation.

(See: “In 2nd Look, Few Savings From Digital Records,” by Reed Abelson and Julie Creswell, New York Times, Jan. 10, 2013).

Http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/11/business/electronic-records-systems-have-not-reduced-health-costs-report-says.html

In fact, it was announced last Monday that Cerner, which is responsible for the most dishonest research in the history of health information technology, has been awarded the Department of Veterans Affairs contract for the VA’s next-generation electronic health records system.

Assessment

Dishonesty wins.

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.

***

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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. 

***

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Conclusion

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Dental Managed Care is Substandard Care

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Dental Managed Care [DMC] is Substandard Care – count on it!

1-darrellpruittBy D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

Have you noticed most employer-sponsored dental plans boast savings of 30% and more on dental care, without mentioning how unsustainable discounts harms their employees?

Dental Managed Care [DMC] is substandard care: Discount dentistry, like virtually all underfunded handwork, has always been substandard … Or perhaps someone would like to argue that intricate surgery in sensitive mouths of nervous patients is improved when rushed.

Discounts are popular

Those who market obscure, hard to understand managed care plans to clueless, perhaps non-caring employers, do not control the quality of the discounted dentistry they sell.

Think about it: Discount dentistry without quality control. Can you think of a worse idea in healthcare?

What’s more, not one Delta Dental, Humana or Cigna executive can be held accountable for causing harm to equally clueless dental patients through underfinanced dentistry they sell. Employees who must choose their dentists from preferred provider lists have forfeited freedom of choice, whether they realize it or not. Their underfunded, substandard dentistry is subsidized by tax payers as a special tax-free benefit, benefiting unaccountable third parties most of all.

For example:

  • Want to know what you get with managed care dentistry? Quick prophys. 
  • How many of you get your teeth cleaned in 30 minutes or less? Do they feel clean?

One Hour

l always allowed my hygienists 1 hour to clean patients’ teeth simply because it often takes that long to do the job right – regardless what insurers say hygienists’ time is worth. The economic climate is tough on fee-for-service.

As I am considering signing on as a preferred provider – not because I want to – I notice that the fees allowed by insurers do not cover the hourly rate of most hygienists… unless they can “clean” teeth, take x-rays, take blood pressure, go over patients’ medical history, allow time for the doctor to do a quick exam and turn around the room in less than 30 minutes.

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retro dental exam room

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Assessment 

The motto of my practice is “Dentistry Unhurried.” I don’t want to compete in a race to the bottom which uninformed dental patients always lose.

Conclusion

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Are Paper MRs Safer than EMRs?

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Paper is Safer!

1-darrellpruitt[By Darrell K. Puitt DDS]

“Ransomware Attacks Can’t Hide from HIPAA Anymore – Hospital and health system executives are on notice: Come clean about ransomware attacks as early as possible or be prepared to face sanctions.”

By Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, July 19, 2016.

http://www.healthleadersmedia.com/technology/ransomware-attacks-cant-hide-hipaa-anymore#

Dean Sittig, a clinical informatics professor at University of Texas Health Science Center and the Houston UT-Memorial Hermann Center for Health Care Quality and Safety, tells HealthLeaders,

The new HHS guidance is going to really ratchet up people’s attention, because now you’re also talking about big fines from the government, as well as the effects of the ransomware.”

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Show Me the Money?

“Survey: Nearly Three Quarters of Physicians Say They Haven’t Seen ROI From Electronic Records.”

By Matt Goodman: [Dallas/Fort Worth Healthcare Daily, July 21, 2016]

http://healthcare.dmagazine.com/2016/07/21/survey-nearly-three-quarters-of-physicians-say-they-havent-seen-roi-from-electronic-records/

Conclusion

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