Dodging an Embarrassing Question about Electronic Dental Records

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The Secrets of AmeriPlan® Corporation's Discount Dentistry ...

By Darrell K. Pruitt, DDS

Dental Care Alliance Data Breach Impacts More Than 1 Million Patients

NEWS FLASH!

Sarasota, FL-based Dental Care Alliance, LLC, a dental support organization with more than 320 affiliated dental practices across 20 states, has been hacked and the protected health information of more than a million individuals has potentially been compromised. The breach occurred on September 18, 2020, was detected on October 11, and was contained on October 13.”

Steve Alder

[HIPAA Journal – December 10, 2020]

LINK: https://www.hipaajournal.com/dental-care-alliance-data-breach-impacts-more-than-1-million-patients/

Currently I am in conversation on LinkedIn with a Chief Information Officer for an IT firm. He assures me that the cloud is more secure than paper dental records stored in heavy and loud metal filing cabinets, but cannot say why.

Meanwhile, I have never heard of a million paper dental records being stolen in one heist. Wouldn’t that require a truck or two? What’s more, once the thieves escape to their hideout, someone will have to enter the data onto computers – while struggling to interpret bad handwriting.

ASSESSMENT: Your thoughts are appreciated …. More later.

THANK YOU

Risk Management, Liability Insurance, and Asset Protection Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™

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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.

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 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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EHRs in the News – GAG!

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A Recent Round-Up

1-darrellpruitt[By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS]

“Feds push forward with controversial health rule – The Obama administration is moving ahead with controversial new rules that require doctors to switch to electronic health records or face fees, resisting calls from both parties to delay implementation.”

By Sarah Ferris for The Hill, October 6, 2015

http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/256120-feds-push-forward-with-controversial-health-it-rule?utm_content=buffer9cd4b&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

“The Gag Clause is Killing Us – Doctors are barred from discussing safety glitches in software…  And what if doctors — your doctor — is unable to make problems with EHR programs public, due to a so-called ‘gag clause’ written into the contract with the software company, which forbids sharing and publishing, in any form, of potentially dangerous flaws in the IT systems? This is already happening.”

By Deirdre Reilly for HealthZette, October 6, 2015

http://www.lifezette.com/healthzette/gag-clause-is-killing-us/

 “Hackers target Australian health sector, selling records for A$1,000 – Hackers are targeting the Australian health sector, with fully populated digital health records sold on the black market for up to A$1,000 each [$720 US].”

By Beverley Head for ComputerWeekly.com, October 7, 2015

http://www.computerweekly.com/news/4500254986/Hackers-target-Australian-health-sector-selling-records-for-A1000 

 “Electronic health records software often written without doctors’ input – The reason why many doctors find electronic health records (EHR) difficult to use might be that the software wasn’t properly tested, researchers suggests.”

By Kathryn Doyle for Reuters, October 7, 2015

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/07/us-health-software-ehr-idUSKCN0S11OY20151007

 “EHRs provide long-term savings, convenience.”

(no byline), American Dental Association, ADA News, December 6, 2013

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

 ***EHR

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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

Conclusion

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[HOSPITAL OPERATIONS, ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR, HIT AND FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT COMPANION TEXTBOOK SET]

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Dentists for De-Identification

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A Start-Up Idea

[By Darrell K. Pruitt DDS]

1-darrellpruittAn early, shoestring proposal for a non-profit dedicated to common sense security solutions.

Why? if patients’ identities are unavailable, they cannot be hacked.

Recently, I’ve considered starting a non-profit dedicated to keeping patients’ identities off of dentists’ computers where they are far too easily fumbled thousands at a time. I think I might call it “Dentists for De-identification.” What do you think?

My son Ryan and I have discussed putting together an educational YouTube cartoon – comparing the cost, convenience and security of encrypted Protected Health Information (PHI), to storing PHI, including medical information, only on paper in bulky metal filing cabinets – leaving only nameless, unencrypted dental records on the computer. De-identification is the “other” HIPAA Safe Harbor, meaning if patients’ de-identified dental information is stolen or hacked, nobody has to be notified. And, since the patients’ nameless dental records remain unencrypted, de-ID should not slow down work flow like encryption does.

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eHRs

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One could call employing in-house reference numbers to re-connect patients’ digital dental information to paper-based PHI a hybrid solution to an otherwise intractable security problem. The solution is nothing new, and has a long history of success. For decades, police departments have been substituting in-house reference numbers for citizens’ names to protect the owners. I see no reason it cannot work for dental radiographs as well.

Depending on staff’s familiarity with the alphabet, pulling a patient’s thin paper record from a loud filing cabinet might even take less time than correctly typing in an encryption key (on the first try). What’s more, since there is a limit to the number of patients even the fastest dentists can treat in one day, 4000 or so active patients per dentist is a reasonable estimate of the number of records in a  busy dental practice – which is probably one third of the records in the average physician’s practice. Since the dental information remains digital and only a couple of sheets of paper are needed to reveal the patients’ reference number along with a brief medical history, very little filing space should be needed.

The problems with encryption don’t end with correctly entering the key. Once permitted access to encrypted ePHI, it will take much more time to de-crypt one radiograph than it takes to open a manila folder. Depending on the number of radiographs and other digital images – including complex cone-beam radiographs – a patients’ encrypted diagnostic history could require several minutes to view.

I would want to witness the De-ID non-profit professionally investigate whether de-identification indeed offers a cheaper and more secure solution to data breaches from dental offices. I think we all know by now that full disk encryption will never be the answer.

***

Medical Charts

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Assessment 

Still too soon? Give it time. The FBI assures us that more massive data breaches are just around the corner.

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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?

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eHRs

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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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Do Nurses like EHRs?

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Do RNs like using electronic health records?

[A seldom considered POV]

1-darrellpruitt

BY Darrell K. Pruitt DDS

Some Facebook comments:

Big problems when you have unexpected “downtimes”.

July 15 at 3:10pm · Like · 4

It is an absolute train wreck. I haven’t seen one record of mine that is not riddled with mistakes. Especially the allergies, they show me taking meds I’m allergic to and not taking meds I’m actually on. A true mess!! And now the records are all intertwined. I don’t like it at all!!

July 15 at 3:10pm · Like · 2

It is a nightmare!

July 15 at 3:18pm · Like

I retired just in time so I don’t have to deal with this fiasco.

July 15 at 3:19pm via mobile · Like · 2

IT SUCKS

July 15 at 3:19pm · Like

I don’t like them; my doctors don’t like them; how it will affect patient care is still a ‘jury out’ matter, but we can guess it will NOT help.

July 15 at 3:30pm · Like

Our Rural Community Healthcare system is just now switching over to this .. along with our hospital switching over to a totally new computer system .. the 2 systems do not talk to each other..In my personal experience I find that the “computer” world takes us away from Direct Patient Care (to busy playing “ring around the Rosie” on the computer).

July 15 at 3:40pm · Like · 4

I like them, but it is frustrating having “downtime.”

July 15 at 3:41pm · Like

I hear patients stating things like “my doctors don’t know who I am because they don’t look at me they are glued to the computer”. It saddens me patients feel less valued. I’ve worked in places where they’ve had paper charts and places computerized. Seems the computers are redundant and I personally prefer paper charts. Chart one assessment not one assessment 4 different places.

July 15 at 3:44pm via mobile · Like · 3

It looks to me like physicians are cutting and pasting old histories and physicals, complete with the errors. Doctors in a local ER charted complete physicals on me when they did not get closer than 5 feet away. The records are difficult to read, difficult to find information; and it is not number in chronological order.

July 15 at 3:47pm · Like

I dislike it. Besides the down time, I find it very impersonal. I don’t feel as if I am giving my full attention to my pt, nor do I feel my PCP is hearing what I’m saying . They are too busy putting in info on the computer. As for the down time you then have to work late to put in the info gathered while the system is down.

July 15 at 3:47pm via mobile · Like · 2

eHRs

Assessment

https://www.facebook.com/friendanurse/posts/654085127954821

More: On DIgital Deaths

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-25/digital-health-records-risks-emerge-as-deaths-blamed-on-systems.html

(50+ other comments)

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Confusion About “Meaningful Use” Reigns

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Are Doctors Embracing or Ignoring ARRA?

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

pruittAre physicians embracing ARRA Meaningful Use cash incentives or ignoring them? That depends on whom one asks.

Doctors versus the Feds

National progress towards Meaningful Use of expensive EHRs depends on whether one talks to federal employees whose jobs depend on the stimulus mandate, or doctors who purchase EHRs to improve care rather than to use them … Meaningfully.

The Feds

Today, Joseph Conn, writing for ModernHealthcare, posted a rosy outlook for MU adoption according to researchers working for HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator (ONC). They base their optimism for job security on a recent National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) survey:

“A growing number of office-based physicians are using more-robust EHRs that have higher-level functions needed to help the doctors qualify for federal EHR incentive payments [for Meaningful Use] and assist them in providing better, safer care for patients, the researchers reported.” (See “Researchers: More doctors using more-sophisticated EHRs”).

http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20121212/NEWS/312129956/researchers-more-doctors-using-more-sophisticated-ehrsJust

eMR and HIT Security

The Doctors

However, yesterday, in an InformationWeek article by Ken Terry titled, “Meaningful Use Doesn’t Drive Doctors’ EHR Selection,” doctors suggested a more depressing future for MU sophistication based on the same NCHS survey:

“Jason Mitchell, MD, assistant director of the Center for Health IT at the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), told InformationWeek Healthcare that he found [the lagging adoption of MU-capable EHRs] puzzling. While there’s no doubt that Meaningful Use has driven much of the increase in EHR use, he said, it seems strange that so many physicians would buy and implement EHRs that could not be used to show Meaningful Use.”

http://www.informationweek.com/healthcare/electronic-medical-records/meaningful-use-doesnt-drive-doctors-ehr/240144093

Assessment

Whom should doctors believe – HHS employees who give away billions of stimulus dollars for Meaningful Use, or family physicians who have determined that the subsidy isn’t worth the cost and effort?

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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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Is HI-TECH Dead?

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You Decide!

[By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS]

Yesterday, Don Fluckinger, Features Writer for SearchhealthIT, posted “Blumenthal: Building national health network could take decades”

“When Dr. David Blumenthal was national health IT coordinator, he focused on 2015, the HITECH Act’s original target date for meeting meaningful use criteria. Now that he’s back in civilian life, he’s taking a longer view of the initiative to create a national health network triggered by the HITECH Act’s cash incentives to physicians and hospitals using electronic health record (EHR) systems.”

http://searchhealthit.techtarget.com/news/2240035845/Blumenthal-Building-national-health-network-could-take-decades

Even though Fluckinger assures us that post-ONC, Blumenthal is still a “HITECH Act champion,” I’m not so sure. Perhaps in spirit only!

A Multi-Decade Project?

Last week, Dr. Blumenthal was the keynote speaker at the Massachusetts annual health IT conference. According to Fluckinger, he told the audience that building a secure, national, interoperable health information system “was always going to be a multi-year, maybe even multi-decade project.” That’s not what I remember. I remember being told that if I didn’t purchase a network-ready EHR for my dental practice by 2014, I wouldn’t be paid by insurance companies.

What Happened?

So, what happened to President Bush’s 2004 Executive Order of “interoperability (even with dentists) by 2014”? Is it too soon to say that he failed? So who is going to tell the thousands of HIT stakeholders who have been attracted by the smell of stimulus billions? Blumenthal?

Assessment 

I can only imagine that now that Dr. Blumenthal left his job as head of the ONC for a new job as a health policy professor at Harvard School of Public Health, the openness of life outside government makes him uncomfortable with the lame talking points he once pushed as part of his job, without cracking a smile.

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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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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BCBS-TX Must Talk to D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

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Do My Manners Bother Anyone?

[By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS ]

I posted this on the Dallas Morning News Website in response to an article about BCBSTX downsizing due to the economy.

http://economywatchblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2009/08/health-care-losing-jobs.html

1-darrellpruittDear Jason Roberson – Reporter – The Dallas Morning News 

As a dentist on the east side of Fort Worth whose patients have been harmed by BCBSTX, I say the fewer clients BCBSTX has, the safer Texans are. Changing dentists causes fillings.

Of HIPAA and the NPI Number

It wouldn’t surprise me that until about now, you and most of your readers have never heard of the HIPAA-mandated National Provider Identifier (NPI) number. And it probably doesn’t make much sense to you when I say that it is BCBSTX policy not to process their clients’ dental claims if they come from a dentist who doesn’t have an NPI number, like me. BCBSTX’s horrible policy has not only decreased my number of new patients, but the arbitrary rule also caused a couple of dozen of my long-term patients – who were perfectly satisfied in the comfortable dental home I provided them – to leave me for dentists with NPI numbers. Please note that the 10 digit identification number does nothing improve the quality of care. It only benefits BCBSTX. And did I mention that changing dentists causes fillings?

Not Accepting Assignment 

Even in these tough economic times, I choose to no longer accept BCBSTX. My ethics-based decision hurts me financially, but that is how much I sincerely despise BCBSTX for its NPI policy. Unless Texas Health CEO Doug Hawthorne or a spokeswoman for BCBSTX like Margaret Jarvis or Ross Blackstone mans up to their deception really soon, I hope to help the wheels fall off of BCBSTX as an example to other insensitive CEOs who harm my patients by selling their clueless bosses discount dental plans with no quality control. Special bastards like me proudly volunteer to clean up the neighborhood, just for grins. As a matter of fact, a few sports fans and I are hoping one of the recently laid off BCBSTX employees is named Wilma, who on May 1, 2008 was known as an “overall supervisor” for BCBSTX in the dental claims department. I’m certain that CEO Hawthorne knows her. Then again, it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that he is unconcerned about dentistry.

A Pubic Invitation 

I am publicly inviting Wilma to come forward – even as whistleblower if she still has her job – and share with us the motivation behind the alleged lies she told me during our conversation. Even now, as I listen to our recording, I consider it an entertaining and educational conversation between two people who both know a BCBSTX overall supervisor who brought talking points to an argument. Nevertheless, even while trapped between honesty and her job, Wilma proved to be a devoted employee – willing to risk her own reputation for her boss. The way she sticks with defending a defenseless policy, at times it sounds like the NPI number actually makes sense to her. Then you think, “Surely she is smarter than that.”

Assessment 

I know that coming at the end of one of the strangest comments you have ever attracted, it is appropriately ballsy that I say that there’s a new sheriff in town, Jason. And disrespect around my niche is no longer tolerated if I have anything to do with it. I’ll shoot holes in BCBSTX to help it crash sooner if it will cause fewer Texans experience unnecessary dentistry. How important to one’s oral and systemic health is continuity of care when virtually all oral problems are caused by neglect? Is BCBSTX dental insurance worth the hidden price? Thank you for the opportunity to air out my opinion.

Conclusion

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