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Dental Insurance Doesn’t Exist [video]

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Don’t be Fooled?

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

1-darrellpruittDowney, California dentist John McCallister DDS has produced a splendid video which blows apart myths which keep dental “insurance” companies in business.

The more appropriately called, “discount dentistry brokers” – who casually hide dentists’ concerns – simply cannot survive transparency.

The Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPo4XsYhHPk&feature=youtu.be

Quality?

Let’s face it. Purchasing rushed dental work which Delta Dental discounts more than 30% – or even faster dentistry that is discounted up to 65% by Brighter.com – will always be a foolish investment in one’s health simply because managed care dentistry has NO QUALITY CONTROL.

What’s more, neither Steve Olson, CEO of Delta, nor Brighter.com CEO Jake Winebaum can ever be held accountable for the shoddy work they sell.

Share the Cartoon

The Hippocratic thing to do, Doc, is to share Dr. McCallister’s cartoon with everyone.

As for me, I especially look forward to publicly taunting Delta Dental Insurance Company through @DeltaDentalins on Twitter, as well as CEO Jake Winebaum via @Brighter.com.

Jake blocked me from following @Brighter.com years ago after I asked him about Brighter.com’s quality control measures (There are none. Isn’t that right, Jake?)

Assessment

I pick on Delta Dental and Brighter.com not just because they are unresponsive to dentists’ concerns, but Steve Olsen and Jake Winebaum run the two most harmful examples of sleazy discount dentistry businesses.

Conclusion

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Cyber Insurance for Dentists?

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Are we de-facto targets?

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS
pruitt

Have you purchased cyber insurance yet, Doc?

If you are a HIPAA covered entity, you’re going to need it.

Press release: “AIG among insurers seeking more sales as small firms get hacked” (no byline).

“Smaller companies [including dental offices] are learning that, as more data is shared online, they, too, can be targets for the kinds of attacks that larger firms endure. American International Group Inc. and Travelers Cos. are among insurers tailoring cybersecurity products to those customers.”

http://www.delawareonline.com/article/20130322/BUSINESS09/303220034/AIG-among-insurers-seeking-more-sales-small-firms-get-hacked

The Expert Speaks

Bob Parisi, network security and privacy practice leader at the insurance brokerage of Marsh & McLennan tells DelawareOnline that small and mid-size companies are “where we’re going to see some of the most aggressive growth in the next couple of years, because it’s been a part of the market that was ignored.”

The ad describes how a California-based online print shop was targeted by hackers who exposed clients’ names, addresses and credit-card numbers last year. Much like dentists whose EDRs are hacked, after discovering the breach, business owner David Handmaker had to notify affected customers. The Ponemon Institute predicts that 20% or more of the customers notified will instantly become former customers.

“We’re just much, much more aware of the fact that being a small company” makes us more of a target,” Handmaker tells DelawareOnline. He adds that larger businesses have “more resources, and so I think their security practices are maybe a little more evolved.”

Assessment

Small businesses such as print shops and dental practices have become de-facto targets – and according to security experts, easy pickings. I’m not wrong. I’m early.

More

Conclusion

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More on the Art of “Slow” Medicine

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And … Slow Dentistry, too!

By Ann Miller RN MHA

[ME-P Executive-Director]

BOOK REVIEW

We don’t know exactly when, but the practice of medicine has morphed into the delivery of health care.

Of course, if healthcare has become big business, we at the ME-P through our publication, text and handbooks, advertisers and sponsors, as well as speaking and consulting engagements may be partially to blame. But, hopefully not to the extreme it has become in some cases.

For example, did you know that Medicare has a CPT® medical payment code for a ten minute “treadmill” office visit?

God’s Hotel – The Book

So, if you aren’t sure – or are too young to know – of what’s happening today, the new book “God’s Hotel” is for you. It’s an engaging book by Dr. Victoria Sweet, a general internist from Laguna Honda Hospital that chronicles her perspectives from the last almshouse in the United States.

IOW: She is off the insurance grid and has discovered a way to benefit patients, not necessarily medical providers, by practicing something called “slow” medicine.

THINK: Marcus Welby MD

Slow Dentistry

Of course, our own ME-P investigative reporter Darrell K. Pruitt DDS, has been commenting and opining on this issue vis-a-vie the dental insurance industry treadmill of “fast” production line oral care.

For example, he often asks his colleagues: Are you fed up with successfully doing intricate handwork to exacting tolerances in mouths of anxious patients and then having to fight to get the patients’ insurance company to pay what they rightfully owe THEIR CLIENT.

IOW: Working faster and faster, for less and less compensation.

Assessment

“God’s Hotel”: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine

Link: http://www.amazon.com/Gods-Hotel-Hospital-Pilgrimage-Medicine/dp/1594488436/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1337177871&sr=8-1

More from the ME-P: The Emerging Discipline of “Slow Medicine” and Professional Liability

Conclusion

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In Defense of the eDR Industry

One Dentist Consultant’s Opinion

By Paul L. Child Jr, DMD, CDT
CR Foundation
3707 North Canyon Road, Building 7
Provo, UT 84604

Three days ago, I shared the email I sent to Dr. Paul Child and Kathleen Noll concerning their claims that electronic dental records offer dentists a return on investment (ROI). Dr. Child responded yesterday.

Darrell K. Pruitt DDS

———————————————

Dear Dr. Pruitt,

Thank you for your recent communication and questions regarding my recent article in Dental Economics, specifically your question: Does the ROI for Practice Management systems include the cost of HIPPA compliancy?

In regards to your communications with QSI, I cannot comment as I do not represent them. Unfortunately, I too am not able to give you the “proof” you are seeking, as I do not have a specific chart nor do I plan on fabricating one to “prove” the efficacy of computers in the dental office (although a controlled study would be interesting, I’m not sure it would be an effective use of funds to prove something that is already proven in every other industry).

However, I will provide you with information from thousands of our readers at CR as well as many more in our lectures worldwide.

The section of the article to which you are referring is under the title of: Practice and patient records management and patient education. Specifically, the paragraph states:

“Implementation of computers into each operatory and throughout the practice is the first and most frequent adoption of digital dentistry. In North America and most developed countries, this has reached the “early majority” stage as all of the criteria for being an advantage have been met. Dentists who have not yet adopted this prerequisite for digital dentistry should do so now! Daily advances and improved software adapted from other industries allow this technology to be affordable, attain the fastest adop¬tion rate, and offer a high return on investment. Current and highly effective systems include Eaglesoft (Patterson), Dentrix (Schein), PracticeWorks (Carestream Dental), and Web-based software such as Curve Dental” (underlines added for emphasis).

Please note that the sentence in which “high return on investment” is mentioned is referring to “advances and improved software adapted from other industries”. As such, other industries (too many to count) have proved without a doubt, the massive improvement in return on investment in the following areas: improved efficiency (eg. Legible records vs. scribbles, or worse off, incomplete records), improved accuracy of records, use of computers for rapid recollection of stored data, rapid recording of data, time savings, standardization, and many more. A brief look at the medical industry and literature (our closest industry – of which we are a part of) can demonstrate the above. In addition, the observations I made are directed to the use of computers in a practice.

Finally, proper implementation of practice and patient management systems can easily improve ROI, via better record taking, accurate financial statements that can be easily generated daily for better practice management, treatment planning with all options, benefits, and risks recorded – then printed for the patient, and most of all – time savings. What is a dentists time worth? My time is priceless (as is most dentists I know). Yes, there are clearly unknown aspects of this digital transformation from paper to digital. Government and controlling organizations may make new rules and regulations that can positively or negatively affect this process.

But, from our observations of thousands of other dentists that have made this transition, very few – if any, would even think about reverting back to paper.

To your question regarding HIPPA compliance, YES, the overall ROI would include even this. HIPPA compliance is still relatively new to many dentists, even though it has existed for years. This compliance in important for all the reasons you already know. As dentistry evolves and new technologies are introduced (and ruling bodies continue to make new rules and regulations), this digital evolution will continue to prove itself an EXCELLENT ROI for today’s and tomorrow’s dentists.

Best regards,

Paul L. Child Jr., DMD, CDT

Conclusion

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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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Dentistry’s Low Hanging Fruit – Podcast on “What We Fix First”

An Internet Radio Interview with a ME-P “Mover and Shaker”

By Ann Miller RN MHA and The Whole Tooth

As announced last week, we are privileged to have Dr. Darrell Pruitt share his topic is “Dentistry’s Low Hanging Fruit – What We Fix First”.

About Dr. Pruitt

If you know Dr. Pruitt thru this ME-P, or elsewhere, then you know that he doesn’t hold anything back! Like always, join your hosts Hogan Allen & Richard Train, along with occasional clinical guest hosts, for “The Whole Tooth”. The show airs every Tuesday at 8 P.M. EST, with a weekly conversation with not only the “who’s who” in dentistry, but many other experts who you ‘should’ get to know.

About The Whole Tooth

“The Whole Tooth” is the premier internet radio show for dental practices which discusses how you can make more money, save more money and improve processes for everyone in your dental office. Topics include: clinical dentistry, what’s “hot” in hygiene, practice management, internet strategies, finance and more.

Assessment

“The Whole Tooth” is a fun half hour filled with great information and can fit into any schedule. If you miss a show, feel free to download the archive, or catch us on iTunes for FREE!

Podcast link: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thewholetooth/2011/06/01/dentistrys-low-hanging-fruit-what-we-fix-1st-wdr-pruitt

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The “Whole Tooth” Blog Talk Radio to Interview Dr. Darrell Pruitt on eHRs

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Plugging my Interview and Otherwise Clogging Things

[By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS]

Where are the EDR cheerleaders when I need them? On Tuesday May 31st, I’ve got a show to put on!

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thewholetooth

Where are the EDR Cheerleaders?

Every now and then I still come across EDR vendors on the internet who would mislead naïve dentists about their product to make a sale. Today, I held FirstEMR representative Robert Evans accountable for self-serving misinformation he posted on EMR and HIPAA forum. (My dad would be proud that I told him “Get that garbage out of here!”). Then, remembering my manners, I invited Mr. Evans to please call into The Whole Tooth Blogtalkradio program on May 31 to further discuss the future of EHRs in dentistry. Unfortunately, because of things like the reflexive “garbage” statement, I don’t think he’ll show.

I try my best to be “collegial,” but I simply cannot pretend unethical sales techniques are acceptable in my neighborhood, and I want to help my friends easily recognize them… so what if I have a little fun.

http://www.emrandhipaa.com/emr-and-hipaa/2010/11/18/emr-stimulus-q-and-a-emr-stimulus-money-and-dentists/comment-page-1/#comment-133132

Of Robert Evans

Thanks for your response, Robert Evans.

As I read your list of 6 rationalizations for electronic dental records here on the EMR and HIPAA forum , it occurred to me that you haven’t had a chance to read my detailed post on this thread from November 22 (Number 14) in which I de-bunked 28 similar myths – substantially including your 6. But since I never tire of doing this, let’s once again go through the details of a popular national blunder in dentistry you and other well-intentioned stakeholders in the HIT industry were sucked into.

“My personal background is medical administration and operations.” That would explain your misconceptions about EHRs in the unique field of dentistry.

For your first mistake, you say “Dentists can qualify as eligible providers for ARRA incentives” You really should have gone on to explain that for a dentist to qualify for the stimulus money, 30% of his or her practice has to be from Medicare/Medicaid. Since you surely should have known that, to fail to mention it could easily be interpreted as deceptive.

This is just a guess, but I’d say less than 10% of the dentists in the nation in private practice would make it on that qualification alone even if it made business sense to accept government money and the expensive demands that come with it. Since you are in the EHR business, you may have more accurate figures on that. What’s more, our grandchildren’s money will be gone long before the stimulus makes it to dentistry. You should already know that as well.

“All of our clients, including Dentists, Endodontists, Periodontists, Implant Surgeons and more are extremely pleased that they made the transition “ All of them, Robert? Really?

The ME-P Forum 

This ME-P forum right here is full of stories about disappointed providers – perhaps other than your clients – who are finding huge problems with the transition. De-installations are far too common. It seems like a while back it was close to 30%. Then again, since you are in the business, you probably have more accurate figures for that as well.

Even the stimulus money isn’t sufficient subsidy for physicians to realize a return on investment in EMRs. And virtually nobody is interoperable as planned. That means the office tools you sell raise the cost of healthcare rather than lower it. What’s more, physicians stand to benefit from interoperability much more than dentists regardless of stimulus money. And if a dentist can’t expect ROI from an office tool, it’s called a hobby.

By the way, have you looked at the Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements that stand between dentists and disappearing ARRA money? Well-meaning outsiders with plans for the common good just don’t realize that someone has to enter every piece of irrelevant detail about dental patients that CMS requires in order to receive full payment.

It’s a trap, Robert. And it’s not very well hidden. Dentists don’t take candy from strangers.

The Benefits

“The benefits to your office are numerous and too many to mention here; but, please take into account the following”:

1. Never having to worry about compliance issues, as we are 100% compliant with all standards and formats that CMS is mandating.

– You are 100% scary. As long as a provider stores or transmits electronic PHI he or she clearly must be concerned about HIPAA compliance issues. What’s more, as a Business Entity for the dentists you serve, if your computer system is hacked or someone on your end otherwise fumbles or steals 500 or more of a dentists’ patients’ PHI, all of the dentist’s patients must be notified of the danger of identity theft. In addition, federal law stipulates that news of the data breach must be broadcast as a press release in the dentist’s local media. This can easily bankrupt a dentist… You just had to know about this before today.

Your compliancy claim is not only wrong, but it is irresponsible and unethical advertising. You are not 100% compliant. Since the Rule is intentionally vague, nobody is. Get that garbage out of here!

2. Greatly reduce or even eliminate human error. Some offices have brought back billing into their control and terminated the outsourcing.

– Are you kidding? Eliminate human error? Someone put you up to this didn’t they. And “outsourcing”? Once again, this is misleading and irresponsible information, Robert. What about keystroke errors? Only frustrated vendors wish computers would replace human intelligence.

3. Facilitate lab and prescription orders. Offices using e-scribe services are already on board into accepting the benefits of an EMR.

– So does this mean that when the lab delivery person comes to my office to pick up plaster models of a patient’s teeth, the prescription for the restoration must be sent separately by email instead of inserting a short hand-written note in the package… with the relevant patient’s models?

– I don’t sign enough prescriptions to make e-prescribing worth it. I really, really don’t. So how expensive would you make dental care?

4. Simple and efficient scheduling. The reception and schedulers are not tied to the telephone, fax and charting tasks as well as insurance verifications.

– That’s never before been a significant problem. Dental offices were run surprisingly efficient for decades before computers were around. Since dentistry is intricate handwork, the bottleneck in dental offices isn’t the front desk. It’s the dentist.

– What’s so wrong with telephone and fax, by the way? One doesn’t have to be a HIPAA-covered entity to use those tools.

– As for insurance verification, is the EDR intended to help the patient or the insurance company?

5. No fumbling for charts, paperwork, etc. (significant cost savings)

– Prove it.

6. Gain 15+ hours per week, back!

– Where did find this chunk of information? Please don’t insult us with wild, irresponsible statements to improve sales of your product. That would be unethical.

“Again, there are too many to list here, but contact me anytime for a quick on-site or online demonstration and let us prove to you that FirstEMR is the most appropriate solution to meet your required EMR needs.”

eDR Mandate? 

Did you intentionally say my “required” EMR needs? You wouldn’t be implying that EMRs are somehow “mandated” in dentistry are you, Robert? That would be called a rookie mistake and you would be about a year behind information published in the ADA News, which was wrong to mislead members on this point in 2008.

http://www.ada.org/5348.aspx

Rather than contacting you for a quick on-site or online demonstration, I’ll do you one better. I am to be interviewed on “The Whole Tooth” blogtalkradio on May 31 concerning the future of EHRs in dentistry. It promises to be an unprecedented discussion about the obscure topic, and is certain to be educational to thousands of dentists who have been misled for years about HIPAA and EDRs.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thewholetooth

Assessment

When the time comes, a telephone number will be provided for live questions. I invite you to call in, Robert, and we can discuss EHRs in dentistry before an audience of around 15,000.

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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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.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com and http://www.springerpub.com/Search/marcinko

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An Argument for Wikileaks in US Healthcare

On Allscripts CEO Glen Tullman

By Darrel K. Pruitt DDS

In 2008, Allscripts CEO Glen Tullman told Alex Nussbaurm of Bloomberg.com that physicians should take out loans to invest in his EHR product “to ensure that doctors have some skin in the game.” What did you expect? How much charm does it take to sell federally subsidized products when everyone knows that they’re mandated anyway?

Life Sans Blumenthal 

Yesterday, Nicole Lewis posted “Health IT’s Future without David Blumenthal” – a glowing and arguably deserved tribute to Dr. David Blumenthal who is leaving the ONC

http://www.informationweek.com/news/healthcare/leadership/showArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=0OLOEMENGCENJQE1GHRSKH4ATMY32JVN?articleID=229201216&pgno=1&queryText=&isPrev=

From where I’m sitting, it’s clear that Tullman used Lewis and InformationWeek to score more points with Washington and Wall Street, while continuing to marginalize the interests of those who actually take out loans to purchase his product: “David shepherded ONC through a very critical time . . . the creation, definition, and implementation of meaningful use, which really is a way to ensure that physicians actually use electronic records to improve care, but also that taxpayers get good value for their investment.” What about the doctor’s investment and more importantly, if a doctor is busy clicking on links to qualify for meaningful use dollars, who is accountable to the patients?

I don’t know about you, but it’s not difficult for me to recognize that like other HIT stakeholders whose careers are propped up by easy mandates rather than finicky satisfied customers, Tullman indeed has solid free-market reasons to play to investors and politicians while fearing his customers. They’re pissed at the man.

A Nationwide Survey           

HCPlexus recently partnered with Thompson Reuters to conduct a nationwide survey of almost 3,000 physicians concerning 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

“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.”

At this crucial time when Republicans are already threatening to cut off remaining HITECH funding, whose job will it be to break the news to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that the EHR savings she was counting on to fund a major portion of healthcare reform are only as valuable as CEO Tullman’s politically-correct fantasy? Pop! From what Nicole Lewis writes, my bet is that the Secretary won’t take the news well: “[Sebelius] reiterated that the successful adoption and use of HIT is fundamental to virtually every other important goal in the reform of the nation’s health care system.” Such pressure from the top down will make it even more difficult for HIT stakeholders, including insurers and politicians, to disown the most egregious. crowd-pleasin’, bi-partisan blunder in medical history since blood-letting was declared Best Practice by popular demand.

According to the HCPlexus-Reuters survey results, one in four physicians think EHRs will actually cause more harm than help in spite of Dr. Blumenthal’s best efforts. I wonder if the escalating bad press about EHRs helped Blumenthal decide to return to his academic position at Harvard. Of course, the controversy over HITECH is nothing new. There have been signs for years that EHRs, including Allscripts products, will neither improve care nor provide taxpayers (our grandchildren) a good value for their investment.

If Tullman was unaware of the highly critical HCPlexus-Reuters study when he assured InformationWeek that his subsidized product has value in the marketplace, he must have been aware of the disappointing news concerning two other recent studies performed by Public Library of Sciences (PLoS) and Stanford which also confirm that EHRs do not improve care. So imagine what it’s like to be one of Tullman’s new, naïve and trusting customers who are expected to use the product for something it’s not designed to do.

My Opinion 

It’s my opinion that Tullman’s apparently incorrigible business ethics have no place in the land of the free, and that more transparency in healthcare would help protect the nation from such politically-connected tyrants. Tullman, a long-time Chicago friend of Barack Obama and a Wall Street sweetheart, would still be just another domesticated CEO if it weren’t for the bi-partisan mandate for electronic health records that help Allscripts, Obama and Wall Street more than clueless patients.

Assessment 

If you want to seriously cut costs in US healthcare as well as cut our grandchildren’s taxes, demand transparency from not just the doctors and patients, but from stakeholders as well. Protected communications between good ol’ boys in healthcare are hardly diplomatic cables about military secrets and always increase the cost of healthcare.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. So when do you want to get the website started? I’m here to serve wherever you need me. 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.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com and http://www.springerpub.com/Search/marcinko

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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.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com and http://www.springerpub.com/Search/marcinko

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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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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.

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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eHRs by 2014?

How’s the $19-B eHR Mandate Going?

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

In 2004, President Bush declared that all Americans’ health records will be digital by 2014. Upon taking the office 2 years ago, President Obama also adopted the popular, HIT industry-supported bi-partisan goal. Will the mandate make a difference – even if we kick in our grandchildren’s money?

Not without the cooperation of doctors and patients. What were you thinking, Mr. Presidents?

Looking Pretty Doubtful

Yesterday, even FierceHealthIT editor Neil Versel declared,

“It’s looking pretty doubtful that the Bush/Obama goal of 2014 will happen, whether you’re shooting for ‘most’ or ‘all’ Americans.”

http://www.fiercehealthit.com/story/amia-2010-five-10-years-away-always-seems-five-10-years-away/2010-11-15#ixzz15TianByl

My Two Cents

In my opinion, the eHR mandate was doomed on delivery when the consumer-friendly 1996 HIPAA Rule was amended in 2003 – taking control of healthcare from patients and doctors and granting it to reckless healthcare stakeholders who cannot be held accountable for harming Americans.

Assessment

In 2003, our privacy was sold for bi-partisan contributions. If Americans don’t trust digital health records, they’ll be worse than worthless. They’ll be dangerous.

Conclusion

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On the Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s Legislative Appropriation for Dental Plans

Fair Warning – Texans

By Darrell K. Pruitt DDS

Just like capitation dental plans, in the long run, poor, sick children in hospitals don’t save Texans money

THHS Commission’s Legislative Appropriation

As part of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s legislative appropriation request, the Agency is quietly pushing for approval of a short-sighted proposal to change the state’s current Medicaid/CHIP (discounted) fee-for-service delivery model to multiple corporate-run capitation plans – where executives who fund political campaigns get bonuses but cannot be held accountable for the slow lines or the fast dental work.

Expedient Deception?

If HHSC succeeds in their politically-expedient deception, not only will it be even more difficult for poor parents to find dentists who accept Medicaid or CHIP payment, but the communities’ charity dental clinics – the default hope of relief for far too many of the state’s poor already – will be unable to keep up with the surge of basic dental needs in the community. Many free dental clinics already need donations of dentists’ free time more than money.

Current Programs Marginally Acceptable 

Even though the state’s current Medicaid/CHIP program is only marginally acceptable to dentists because of next to charity fees plus aggravating and costly bureaucracy, nothing is more disgusting with dentists and patients than dental managed health organizations (DMHO). If naïve people in Austin have their way, the long waits for dentists’ time – state-paid or volunteer – will increasingly cause children to end up in hospital emergency rooms with painful, life-threatening oral infections that are expensive and preventable.

Assessment 

Your local dentist’s capacity to give back to your community by volunteering in neighborhood free clinics is not limitless. Let’s not make a bad situation worse with capitation. It’s a lie.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. The time is NOW to contact YOUR TEXAS LEGISLATOR http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/ and tell them a capitated dental managed care delivery model is not in the best interest of Texas children or Texas dentists! 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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An Open Letter to the TDA Council on Ethics

And … Judicial Affairs

By Darrell K. Pruitt DDS

Dear Dr. Roy N. Burk – Chairman

In your email to me on Thursday, you informed me that you would call my office this week at your convenience to discuss the as yet to be defined complaints about my “unprofessional conduct” from unnamed origins – some of which are rumored to be as old as three years. Also in your reply that was days late, you confirmed my suspicion that you rarely check your email (even though you provided your address). That is why I asked the manager of the TDA Twitter account to send you the message not to call my office. I’ve given her another message today to tell you to check you email. You said you prefer to have a phone conversation with me. However, I naturally decline because of obvious reasons such as inconvenience, misinterpretations and limited exchange of information.

Foundation of our Nation

The foundation of our nation was defined in carefully chosen words written by Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine and others. You have to admit that writing is a much more meaningful and efficient way to resolve the TDA’s mistake than with a 5 minute phone conversation. In addition, by working out our misunderstanding in meaningful sentences that can be viewed by all, both of us are much less likely to say something we might regret if our conversation gets heated… which it will. After all, you threatened my reputation in my community, Dr. Roy Burk. And for that reason, I intend to hold you personally accountable in your community if Judicial Case No. 12-2010-3 is not dismissed. Fair is fair.

Let’s Talk 

Things said in anger help nobody, and can be completely avoided with the written word. In short, there is no reason for either our phone conversation or the meeting you have planned for me on September 18. We can all do something else on that Saturday rather than waste the morning in an Omni Fort Worth hotel room. That is, if you are more interested in resolution than punishment. So let’s negotiate this mistake quickly and quietly, but in a transparent manner, Dr. Burk. As Dr. David May said (but did not mean) when he took over as TDA President in 2007, “Let’s talk.”

TDA Censorship? 

The issue at hand is clearly TDA censorship for political reasons rather than “unprofessionalism.” Trust me when I tell you that nobody who is following us is fooled by the kangaroo court you propose. Considering the recent NLRB decision against the TDA for mistreating employees, the TDA is no longer considered an ethically run organization by many. That means your credibility is shot from the beginning. This week, Jan Jarvis, whom I’m sharing this email with, published “Fort Worth medical clinic spends $15,000 notifying patients of theft” in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.”

http://www.star-telegram.com/2010/08/06/2389717/fort-worth-medical-clinic-spends.html#ixzz0wIaU5AQa

My Community 

This is my community. Some of my patients are (or rather were) also patients of the local allergy clinic where computers containing 25,000 patients’ PHI were stolen in a burglary. In the end, the data breach will cost the clinic hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost customers because of the bad publicity, in addition to possible HIPAA fines and perhaps a lawsuit from Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott. Yet, the TDA has still failed to warn members of the liability of their computers. There is simply no excuse for the TDA’s neglect, and punishing me for revealing the truth will not help anyone, and it aggravates me. That said, please allow me to show you exactly how the TDA’s censorship is hurting dentists as well as endangering their patients in Texas – even as we speak: One year ago today, I posted the following article concerning the liabilities of data breaches on the TDA’s Facebook. It is one of many cautionary articles I contributed about data breaches, electronic dental records and HIPAA. However, the TDA as well as the ADA has ignored the exploding identity theft problem because of undisclosed allegiances to entities other than dentists and patients. The behavior of my professional organization is counter to the Hippocratic Oath and indefensible.

In October, an unnamed person in the TDA determined that TDA members should be prevented from reading the following information.

TDA Facebook, August 11, 2009

HITECH/HIPAA Breach notification

On August 18, American dentists will hear from HHS that HITECH-empowered HIPAA now requires that patients be notified if a breach includes their identifiers. Most will be surprised to learn that the notification requirement is nothing new. The law has been there for years. Besides the law, everyone has to admit that notifying those whose welfare is at risk is the only ethical thing to do, even if it bankrupts a practice. And that is the problem. Breach notification will bankrupt a dental practice. The law has been around for years. It simply never was enforced by either HHS or CMS because it would be so devastating to small medical and dental practices. I assume that the shoddy enforcement is why the ADA did not see a need to distribute discouraging information about the HIPAA requirement. For some reason, the ADA supported the adoption of HIPAA. Some day we’ll know why.  This is not the first time I’ve brought up the breach notification topic on a TDA publication. At the first of 2007, the TDA ventured into the blogosphere with “Ask a Colleague” Forum as part of the TDA’s Website. I began to take over the forum with a contribution posted on January 13, 2008 which I copied below. It is a snail-mail letter I received from President-elect Dr. John S. Findley, describing for the only time in ADA history, the ADA’s Data Breach protocol.

ADA Resources? 

As you can see from the hard work put into the letter, it took a considerable amount of ADA dues to produce this response for only one ADA member. Nevertheless, my question was not taken lightly because they probably assumed it would show up again. And, they were correct. Even though the leaders failed to share it with other ADA members, before it was forgotten, it was cc’d to

  • Dr. S. Jerry Long, trustee, Fifteenth District
  • Dr. James Bramson, executive director
  • Ms. Mary Logan, chief operative officer
  • Ms. Tamra Kempf, chief legal counsel
  • Ms. Mary Kay Linn, executive director, Texas Dental Association

Two and a half years later, Findley’s letter is current enough to be posted with only minor changes. For example, Dr. James Bramson and Ms. Mary Logan no longer work for the ADA.

One more note about Dr. Findley’s response to my question, I did not misrepresent myself in my email to him that I had a computer stolen. He knew from six months earlier when I first emailed him my question that it was a hypothetical question about an obscure topic that ADA leaders did not want to talk about.

Posted: 13 Jan 2008 10:05 AM on the TDA.org Forum

Data breach protocol announced

On January 8th, Dr. John S. Findley, President-elect of the American Dental Association, signed the letter below which defines a data breach, describes a dentist’s obligation under the law in Texas to notify patients involved and the penalty for failing to do so. This is the first time this information has been made available to dentists anywhere in the nation in the 12 years of the HIPAA rule. Dr. Findley and his team are to be congratulated for working through an arduous and unpopular task. It demanded courage.

Darrell

ADA

American Dental Association

http://www.ada.org

John S. Findley, D. D. S. President-Elect

January 8, 2008

Dr. Darrell Pruitt

6737 Brentwood Stair Rd., Ste. 220

Fort Worth, Texas 76112-3337

Dear Doctor Pruitt:

I received your email of December 26th and regret to learn of the loss of your computer. I did inquire as to appropriate procedures upon the occurrence of such an event and am copying below an excerpt from the response of out legal department. “It appears that under these circumstances the dentist may wish to notify affected patients that their information may have been compromised so that they can take necessary steps to protect themselves (i.e. cancel credit cards, notify social security about potentially stolen social security numbers…). (This communication is informational and personal consultation between the dentist and his or her attorney is recommended.) They should also check their state breach notification laws to determine if there is anything else that is required. In this case, the Texas Identity Theft Enforcement and Protection Act (Texas Code Sec. 48 et seq) (the “Act”) covers data breach notification. The Act protects both “Personal Identifying Information,” which is defined as any information that alone, or in conjunction with other information, can be used to identify an individual and an individual’s:

A) name, social security number, date of birth, or government-issued identification number;

B) mother’s maiden name;

C) unique biometric data, including the individual’s fingerprint, voice print, and retina or iris image;

D) unique electronic identification number, address, or routing code; and

E) telecommunication access device.

The Act also protects “Sensitive Personal Information,” which is defined as an individual’s first name or first initial and last name in combination with any one or more of the following items, if the name and the items are not encrypted:

i) social security number;

ii) driver’s license number or government-issued identification number; or

iii) account number or credit or debit card number in combination with any required security code, access code, or password that would permit access to an individual’s financial account.

Sec. 48.102 of the Act creates a duty for businesses to protect and safeguard information through creating and implementing procedures for such purpose. If there is a breach in the security of information, the Act requires a business that maintains ‘Sensitive Personal Information” to notify the owners of such information as soon as possible that a breach has occurred. The Act specifies one of the following modes of notice to be provided:

1) written notice;

2) electronic notice, if the notice is provided in accordance with 15 U.S.C. Section 7001 (which basically requires that a consumer must consent to receiving such notice in electronic form); or

3) notice as provided by Subsection (f) (see below).

(f) If the person or business demonstrates that the cost of providing notice would exceed $250,000, the number of affected persons exceeds 500,000, or the person does not have sufficient contact information, the notice may be given by:

1) electronic mail, if the person has an electronic mail address for the affected persons;

2) conspicuous posting of the notice on the person’s website; or

3) notice published in or broadcast on major statewide media.

Violations

“A person who violates the Act is liable to the state for a civil penalty of at least $2,000 but not more than $50,000 for each violation.” The information pertaining to your question was found in the Identity Theft Enforcement and Protection Act, Chapter 48 of the Business and Commerce Act of Texas.

We hope this information helps.

Sincerely,

John S. Findley, D.D.S.

President-elect

JSF:cac

cc: Dr. S. Jerry Long, trustee, Fifteenth District

  • Dr. James Bramson, executive director
  • Ms. Mary Logan, chief operative officer
  • Ms. Tamra Kempf, chief legal counsel
  • Ms. Mary Kay Linn, executive director, Texas Dental Association

Assessment

Dr. Findley’s letter to me was also deleted from the now closed TDA.org Forum.  The TDA’s actions are a lot like burning books, Dr. Roy Burk.

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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On this Blogging and Writing Lifestyle

About My Morning Routine

[By D. Kellus Pruitt; DDS]

For lack of anything else to write about at the moment, let me describe my morning routine on the weekends.

I like to get up early – 5:30 am yesterday morning. More often than not, Bo, our sheltie, is waiting to greet me because he knows we get to go after the newspaper. That’s exciting. Bo is a morning dog as well. I brew up some coffee, read the newspaper – headlines mostly – and then I sit down in an overstuffed chair with my laptop to check my Google alerts and email before I start writing on whatever strikes me as interesting.

Commencing this Lifestyle                                  

Many writers; like my friend Jill Kring Carter who writes professionally for DentalTown and other publications, do their best work late at night. My mom, who painted professionally, liked the hours between 10 pm and 2 or 3 am for her art when she didn’t have to teach school the next day.

My sons, Ryan and Kellus, like the late hours as well. Sometimes on the weekends, I’m getting up when they are going to bed after having played online video games with friends across the nation all night. That means that while they are sleeping, and before Marci gets up and turns on electrical appliances, I sit nice and cozy, hammering away – constructing sentences out of words and then rearranging it to say with surgical precision what I intend to say. I enjoy it.

Shutting off the Laptop 

About the time I run out of battery for my laptop is when dogs start whining and barking, the TV comes on and the day springs to life. After I turn off my computer, sometimes Ryan and I go out for breakfast and sometimes Marci fixes eggs and bacon, pancakes or French toast. Otherwise I heat up a bowl of oatmeal to eat, visit some, and then head to the office where it’s quiet all day long.

Assessment 

If you are a doctor, medical management consultant, or any sort of accountant, economist or financial advisor; please tell us how you spend your non-professional time /day. Is this post appropriate for a professional forum like the ME-P. Or, is it TMI and better suited for a social network site? Does anyone even care?

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.

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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?

 

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Dr. Deborah Peel vs. Ms. Mary Grealy on Patient Privacy

Physician versus Lobbyist

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS

On March 23, 2010 Dr. Deborah Peel, a psychiatrist in private practice and the founder of Patient Privacy Rights (www.patientprivacyrights.org) posted an opinion piece titled: “Your Medical Records Aren’t Secure” in the Wall Street Journal.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703580904575132111888664060.html

Her still popular article soon picked up 217 comments – reflecting respectable interest in the conundrum. Since then, her message of caution has gained momentum on the Internet in the security industry, and has even spilled over into appearances on Fox News, MSNBC and PBS in the last week.

Dr. Peel’s Case

Dr. Peel argues that even though the President claims digital health records will reduce costs and improve quality, they could undermine safe and effective care if patients become afraid to confide in their doctors.

“The solution is to insist upon technologies that protect a patient’s right to consent to share any personal data. A step in this direction is to demand that no federal stimulus dollars be used to develop electronic systems that do not have these technologies.”

It is easy to understand why Dr. Peel’s opinions draw the ire of HIT stakeholders both inside and outside government.

Dr. Peel concludes:

“Privacy has been essential to the ethical practice of medicine since the time of Hippocrates in fifth century B.C. The success of health-care reform and electronic record systems requires the same foundation of informed consent patients have always had with paper records systems. But if we squander billions on a health-care system no one trusts, millions will seek treatment outside the system or not at all. The resulting data, filled with errors and omissions, will be worth less than the paper it isn’t written on.” 

Dr. Peel is currently on a campaign to encourage Americans to sign her “Do not disclose” petition.

http://patientprivacyrights.org/do-not-disclose/

HIT Stakeholders Speak Up

Recently, the Wall Street Journal featured an opposing opinion to Dr. Peel’s in an article titled “Industry Rep Calls Patient Privacy ‘Overblown’ Worry”

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704094104575144110418562490.html?mod=googlenews_wsj#articleTabs%3Darticle

Ms. Grealy’s Case

Mary R. Grealy, President of the Healthcare Leadership Council, a coalition of chief executives from the health-care industry, posted her objections to Dr. Peel’s warnings about the dangers of digital records versus paper:

“Dr. Peel seeks to frighten people into believing electronic health records are more vulnerable than paper ones, which is not the case. She fails to acknowledge the important role of the HIPAA in protecting health information, or the extraordinary steps hospitals, health plans and physicians have taken to assure confidentiality. Building upon HIPAA, federal laws adopted this year strongly encourage encryption of data included in electronic health records and have imposed new criminal and civil penalties for violating an individual’s privacy.” 

“More importantly, though, if Dr. Peel’s prescription for this hyperbolic problem were to be followed, it’s actually our health that will be less secure. Burdening patients with the responsibility of deciding what health information should be divulged and what should be shielded from medical professionals brings an infinite array of possible consequences. Would the average patient know what information a surgeon needs in order to perform a complex procedure? It’s highly doubtful”.

“In a broader sense, draconian restrictions on the essential flow of medical information would have society-wide repercussions. It would affect the ability of public health officials to report and track incidences of disease. It would undermine the Food and Drug Administration’s capability to monitor the quality and safety of medical products, and product recalls would be hampered”.

“Perhaps most importantly, medical research into lifesaving cures and treatments would be severely hindered by restricted access to health information. Stymieing the necessary transfer of data contained in one diagnosis, one prescription or one lab test could mean the difference between life and death. That is a very high price to pay in order to address overblown privacy concerns”.

Mary R. Grealy

[Washington]

_____________________________________

Assessment

Mary Grealy doesn’t have a petition to sign.

Whereas Dr. Peel turns to patients for support, Ms. Grealy, President of the Healthcare Leadership Council, a coalition of chief executives from the health-care industry, turns to Washington.

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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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Ease Up – Managing Editor Bob Mitchell

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=doctors+computers&iid=131173″ src=”0127/4caf5e52-a89a-4ddb-a0b2-bf4b6789c92b.jpg?adImageId=11344576&imageId=131173″ width=”414″ height=”413″ /]

Two days ago, ADVANCE for Health Information Executives’ managing editor Bob Mitchell publicly criticized the author of last week’s Parade Magazine article, “Electronic Health Records Face Critics.” Personally, I thought it was cowardly for the editor to accuse Drew Jubera of journalistic recklessness without mentioning his name.

http://community.advanceweb.com/blogs/hx_1/archive/2010/03/16/critics-ehrs-don-t-save-money.aspx

According to Jubera

Jubera wrote:

“A new Harvard Medical School study suggests that electronic health records do not save hospitals money—and in fact often end up increasing costs. The Obama Administration has allocated $19 billion in federal stimulus funds to facilitate the shift from paper to electronic records – a move the Rand Corporation has projected could save up to $80 billion a year. Yet the Harvard study found no evidence of savings so far and little evidence that electronic records improve care.”

http://www.parade.com/news/intelligence-report/archive/100314-electronic-health-records-face-critics.html

Dis-Respects Harvard

Incredibly, Bob Mitchell discounts the Harvard Medical School study as being dated research – even though it is less than 5 months old. “I did some research and found that this study was released back in November 2009, even before meaningful use of an eHR had been defined by [ONCHIT] – or the Office of National Coordinator of Health IT.” As if defining meaningful use was meaningful! That’s humor.

Dis-Respects Parade

Furthermore, editor Mitchell has taken on the responsibility to shield his readers from harm caused by Parade Magazine authors whose ethics fall short of acceptable.

He writes:

“I’m concerned that the public is not being served and they will get the wrong impression of computers in health care, especially if it’s being reported by Parade, which reports celebrity, entertainment and health news.”

Of Healthcare Providers

Not so fast with those tricky pronoun phrases, Bob. Rather than being merely a healthcare stakeholder like you, I’m actually the healthcare provider whom you would have fund your enthusiasm. I think your broad statement that “all of us in healthcare know that digital is much better than paper” is journalistically foolish. In addition, your creativity threatens society much more than alleged exaggerations in Parade Magazine. You not only write about HIT as a career, but people generously call you a managing editor.

eMRs in Dentistry 

The next time you feel important enough to quietly insult writers on behalf of providers like me, remember that eMRs in dentistry will not save money over paper records and will unnecessarily increase the risk of identity theft for my patients … unless you disagree.

It would thrill me if you want to publicly debate the value of electronic dental records (How much do you know about dentistry?)

Assessment

For example, do you realize that if a computer containing thousands of patients’ identifying data is stolen in a burglary, and the dentist, or physician, does the right thing and reports the data breach, he or she will likely be bankrupt even before the HIPAA inspections and lawsuits?

The Ponemon Institute estimates that it will cost about $50 per record just to notify affected patients. A few weeks ago, the HHS was obligated to release information that a burglar stole a computer containing more than 9,000 records from a Missouri dental practice. Just to notify the affected patients will cost the practice almost half a million dollars. But wait. That’s not all. Since the loss involves over 500 individuals, news of the breach must be provided as a press release to the local media. As goes the dentist’s reputation, so goes the dentist’s career – all because of a simple burglary.

Conclusion

So what were you saying about dangerous, biased articles in Parade Magazine? The author whose ethics you criticize has a name. It is Drew Jubera. He’s an award-winning staff member of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, in Atlanta GA – home of this ME-P.  I’ll make sure he also gets this message.

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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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The ME-P as Provocateur

On Publishing Information and Entertainment

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA

[Publisher-in-Chief]

As avid blogger Darrell K. Pruitt DDS recently noted, this past quarter brought in a large number of monthly hits, readers and subscribers to the ME-P; and we are grateful. The traffic boost was mainly due to interest in eMRs and the financial essays of Somnath Basu PhD, especially during current political turmoil in Washington, DC involving both sectors simultaneously. The common element was the provocation of diverse opinions.

Audience Centric Philosophy

Through a focused attention on our target audience, we’ve come to understand that information and entertainment are inseparable in all but a theoretical sense.

For example, you’re reading this sentence because it entertains or interests you. That it is also informative may be a reason why it interests you, but entertainment and information are nevertheless inexorably linked.

A sure way to entertain is to be provocative.  Apparently some people really like to debate the value of eMRs, healthcare reform and the financial services industry. And, we appreciate multiple links from prominent bloggers, essays and journalists, too. Don’t misunderstand. We do not publish for the sake of provocation and we do lightly self-censor. But, we publish to advance our own thinking and understanding. That we also entertain and invite debate is an additional benefit.

Self Motivation Mission to Inform

Our posts and comments are motivated to correct the record and to infuse an unbiased debate over both healthcare and financial reform with the best evidence available. In the process, we learn much. Hence, though we may entertain, we are motivated by a desire to inform and “bridge the gap between medical mission and profit margin” in the Health 2.0 era.  

Join Our Mailing List 

Assessment

We’d even go so far as to say that anyone who does not agree is attempting to fool you with clever theory that belies the practical truth. According to Austin Frakt PhD, of the Incidental Economist, if you fall for it … that only proves our point!

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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Protected Health Information Data Breaches

Affecting 500 or More Individuals

[By Staff Reporters]

As required by section 13402(e)(4) of the HITECH Act, the Secretary must post a list of breaches of unsecured protected health information affecting 500 or more individuals.

The following breaches have been reported to the Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services [DHHS].

Full Report

This link was sent in by our own investigative reporter Darrell K. Pruitt, DDS.

Link: http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/administrative/breachnotificationrule/postedbreaches.html

Assessment

Shall we await a response from Kathleen Sebelius, who was sworn in as the 21st Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on April 28, 2009?

Currently, she leads the principal agency charged with keeping Americans healthy, ensuring they get the health care they need, and providing children, families, and seniors with the essential human services they depend on. She also oversees one of the largest civilian departments in the federal government, with nearly 80,000 employees.

Conclusion

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Dr. Mark Leavitt says “Trust me”

On eMRs – Just Go for IT

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS

Neil Versel, a frequent contributor to FierceEMR, posted an article titled “CCHIT’s Leavitt: Don’t wait for final rules to proceed with EHR.”

http://www.fierceemr.com/story/cchits-leavitt-dont-wait-final-rules-proceed-ehr/2010-02-18#comment-778

Half-Baked Ideas 

Even though many states are spending eHR stimulus bucks as fast as they can on half-baked, expensive ideas that enrich HIT stakeholders, most physicians and most all dentists are delaying investing tens of thousands of dollars in HIT fantasy until HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius gets her act together. Sebelius is in way over her head. She hasn’t even settled on the definition of “meaningful use” for crying out loud.

Soon to Be Former CCHIT Leader 

Foot-dragging upsets the soon to be former head of CCHIT Dr. Mark Leavitt. He says doctors should put caution aside and just go for it.

“We believe that it’s risky for providers to wait until all the federal rules are final. If you wait to purchase an eHR until the rules are final and the accreditation process for certifying bodies is complete, I will put my reputation on the line and say that you will not achieve meaningful use in 2011.”

Assessment 

So, Dr. Leavitt, even as you are no longer wanted at CCHIT and are leaving in less than six weeks, you promise American doctors that your reputation is like (stimulus) money in the bank. Will you co-sign loan agreements? Talk is cheap, Dude.

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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Kathleen Sebelius Please Pay Attention to Dr. Darrell Pruitt

Deferred Investment [An Incentive to Access]

By D. Kellus Pruitt; DDS

On Friday, the editor of the Chicago Dental Society’s [CDS] blog “Open Wide” posted a progressive, brief article titled, “State of Illinois offers incentive for dentists to treat Medicaid patients” (no byline).

http://chicagodentalsociety.blogspot.com/2009/12/state-of-illinois-offers-incentive-for.html

CDS says that last week, Governor Pat Quinn signed a law which allows Illinois dentists who treat Medicaid patients to accept payment deposited into a tax deferred investment portfolio instead of the traditional delayed, unpredictable payments that offer no tax advantages – only headaches.

Illinois Governor Quinn is a vast improvement over his predecessor. What was his name? He’s gone on to become a TV personality …. Oh yeah. Blagojevich!

I don’t know about you, but for me, Quinn’s incentive to access could offer not only more relief for those who cannot afford dental care in Texas, but it could also be a more or less painless way for dentists to fund IRAs – rather than having to do it at the last minute like I’ll do in a few months – just like every year. Instead of having an IRA hanging over my head, all I would have to do is donate my skills to help a few more people every now and then. That’s noble, charitable duty, friends – even with the Quinn incentive.

I especially respect current Medicaid dentists who work for nothing at all on the more profitable days.

To HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

Pay attention. You only think you run the show.

The nations’ dentists you need aren’t being paid what they deserve, yet they put up with expensive and threatening CMS bureaucracy and struggle on – simply because they wish to ease suffering everyone else chooses to ignore.

Medicare dentists are American heroes to be sure. But let me warn you, Ms. Sebelius, they will turn on you hard and cold if you try to push them around. It’s time that you welcome real dentists to the bargaining table instead of ambitious ADA-approved stakeholders. You need us more than we need you, Ms. Sebelius. Forget the ADA. That is a foundation on which we can build … or not.

And this is for my stunned dentist colleagues in Texas who cross the street to ignore grandiose special bastards like me. Most of you detest the messy stuff I drag around, but nevertheless can’t stop watching from a safe distance. Rather than get your own hands messy, most of you simply pay the TDA to quietly and ineffectively hide or delay huge approaching problems. So what’s the trade-off? To remain “In the Loop,” you must obediently take up your differences with leadership in the approved, professional manner through designated ADA representatives. And. that’s so cute.

Now that you read about Quinn’s incentive, don’t you also hope that a TDA committee has already approved a draft of a deferred investment proposal to be offered to state lawmakers as soon as possible? After all, similar plans are already being tried in not only Illinois, but in four other states as well: Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi and Arkansas.

Hope as we may, nimrods, I fear those in Austin who should be paying attention to legislative opportunities such as this only heard about Quinn’s incentive to access law a minute or so ago at best.

Of Face Book Accounts

Both the TDA and the ADA desperately need functional Facebook accounts like Chicago Dental Society’s. By the way, it is the CDS which will be hosting their annual mid-winter dental conference in Chicago – reliably a tremendous meeting. This year it is Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 25-27, 2010 in the McCormick Place West Building.

http://www.cds.org/mwm_2010/

The TDA’s Facebook Wall is pristine white and graffiti-ready, and the spray paint is free to any artist who walks by. Not unexpectedly, it’s a mess. Nobody is joining, and whoever is in charge of managing the site is busy deleting unacceptable comments from a jerk who has no respect for anyone. (It’s not me). The TDA Facebook is in trouble, and it has been suggested that it should be shut down. It is indeed an embarrassment.

Assessment

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Here’s something we’ll all laugh about later: The one dentist in Texas who could have sent the rogue artist on down the road (me), was kicked off for badmouthing BCBSTX and the NPI number as well as 13 other listed allegations, including posting pornography. I’ll let the TDA Director of Membership explain that and the other allegations if you are curious. I was not provided access to the evidence on which the sudden and uncontestable revocation of my TDA benefit was based. But there’s still hope because a friend of mine resented the way I was treated and complained to the TDA using the approved channels. That was 2 months ago. I wonder how well that one is progressing from the Austin City dump.

The ADA Facebook is no better. Over 1600 fans have piled up at the door waiting for the ADA’s grand opening, yet nothing is happening. What do you think is going on there?

If you’ve missed hearing from me for the last 2 weeks and have an inquisitive mind, I’ve been pursuing answers for such questions about ADA and TDA transparency on Twitter. They call me Proots.

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Don’t Hide a Security Breach if You Can’t Do the Time

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When Will Costs Outweigh Health Information Technololgy?

[By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS]pruitt

At what point will security data breaches become so costly that dentists will abandon computerization and return to pegboards and ledger cards?

Senate Judiciary Committee

A week ago, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved two separate bills which would mandate that dentists who store digital PHI notify patients if their data is breached. Of course, that would be the ethical thing to do anyway, wouldn’t it?

Senate Bill 139, also known as the Data Breach Notification Act, was introduced by Dianne Feinstein of California and is similar to existing state notification bills – including California’s own landmark Bill 1386 which set the standard 7 years ago.

Two Hundred Ten Dollars Cost – Per Record – for Notification

Considering that in October, the Ponemon Institute reported that it costs an estimated $210 per record to notify patients of a breach, there are a lot of angry lawmakers who are missing the point. Mandated fines for a breach are meaningless. Simply notifying thousands of patients of a breach will bankrupt any dental practice, even if it is an insurance company employee who loses a laptop computer containing a dentists’ patients’ personal data – like a BCBS employee did recently with over 800,000 physicians’ personal information.

Personal Data Privacy and Security Act 

Even now, a dentist whose practice is a victim of a breach, whether it is from stolen computer, hacker or dishonest employee, might take a quick look at the notification path to certain bankruptcy and gamble that patients’ data won’t be used before hiding the incident. That is why Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont has sponsored the other breach bill which reflects the prevailing attitude of frustrated constituents throughout the nation. It is known as the Personal Data Privacy and Security Act.

Leahy is more concerned with punishment than with breaches themselves. In addition to a fine, he would establish a jail term of up to five years for failing to disclose a breach when required.

http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:s1490is.txt.pdf

§ 1041. Concealment of security breaches involving sensitive personally identifiable information 

‘‘Whoever, having knowledge of a security breach and of the obligation to provide notice of such breach to individuals under title III of the Personal Data Privacy and Security Act of 2009, and having not otherwise qualified for an exemption from providing notice under section 312 of such Act, intentionally and willfully conceals the fact of such security breach and which breach causes economic damage to 1 or more persons, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.” 

If dentists want to continue to use computers in their practices, Leahy would have them put serious skin into the game. The bill was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

On the ADA Advocacy page, dental leaders still maintain that electronic dental records will lower the cost of dentistry. And as recently as last month, the ADA House of Delegates again publicly endorsed the adoption of eDRs, yet still neglect to adequately warn ADA members of their dangers, now including possible imprisonment.

Assessment

ADA President Dr. Ron Tankersley is already irrelevant.

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Don’t Tread on Me – Obama

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Bite Me – CMS

[By D. Kellus Pruitt; DDS]pruitt

Shy but proud Texas Dental Association leaders still direct employees to encourage members to volunteer for permanent, mandated National Provider Identifier numbers. Why? “Just ‘cause.”

As part of an agreement the TDA made with the state to help politicians out of a lawsuit they brought upon themselves for not providing adequate dental care for the poor in the state, TDA leaders followed someone’s bad advice to encourage Texas dentists to accept CHIP (Medicaid) – which requires dentists to have arbitrary 10 digit NPI numbers to participate.

Don’t get me wrong. I have the highest respect for dentists who treat the poor for pay that doesn’t even cover overhead. That is compassion to a fault – even before CMS investigators arrive with subpoenas based on vague, nuisance complaints from disappointed patients, disgruntled employees and hungry competitors. Getting even with rich, greedy, or otherwise mouthy dentists has never been easier because I’ve heard that CMS intends to investigate all complaints.

Yes, low pay is only part of the nasty package that TDA officials are officially discouraged from discussing with membership – even as they beg for us to sign up for CHIP and “do our part to return our debt to society by helping those who cannot care for themselves.” So who would dare question the reason for the faux sentiment expressed by a long string of TDA Presidents? That would be me.

There are simply so many other charitable ways of publicly and privately returning help to the community that don’t add to the risk of donating one’s skill. Even if one does not help local free clinics, how hard can it be to quietly give away care, Doc, in these hard times? It’s just between you and God anyway, isn’t it? One simply enters N/C in the fee column. Confidentially I sometimes get hugs that so far can be neither controlled nor taxed.

It appears to me that CMS is arguably more influential with TDA leaders than common TDA members like me. If I am correct, this means that dentistry is at risk of being overrun by authoritarian bureaucrats hired by ambitious politicians who often promise more than they can deliver before ducking accountability for earthly bad decisions. The business model even reminds me of the TDA’s.

So now that the TDA played its hand with regard to its fondness for BCBSTX and the NPI number, what does it mean for Texas dentists if Obama’s imminent “Public Plan Option” turns into “Medicaid for All” – as some naively hope and others justifiably fear? This week, the AMA gave its support to the Public Option. Will the ADA be next? 

Dentistry unhurried is value-added service. One cannot get rich at it, but it’s an honorable living.

Regardless of whether you approve of my tactless vitriol or not, I have to say that when it comes down to feeding my family, even this special bastard could be silenced if there is no longer a market on the east side of Fort Worth for dentistry unhurried. Especially if it meant a monthly visit by CMS inspectors like Dr. Annie Bukacek is going through right now. Like me, she also gives her patients the time they deserve. But unlike me, she doesn’t have time to pick fights with shy bullies who hide behind employees.

I’ll get to the physician’s story in a moment. But first, just how important are secrets to the leaders of the nation’s preeminent non-profit dental organization? It’s important enough that many in the ADA House of Delegates want the power to mete out punishment to fellow officers who cannot keep their mouths shut. Some of those we elected even want to make the sanctions retroactive to deal with colleagues who have already broken the traditional unwritten good ol’ boy code of stoic conduct. At the same time, the TDA is begging dentists in the state to run for ADA office – starting on the local level. Why do you think dentists in Texas don’t want to get involved? Nobody accepts delivery from the cluetrain in Austin. It probably stops there at least a couple of times each week day.

I copied below three of the ADA Delegates’ referred resolutions from Judy Jakush’s November 2 ADANews article, “Delegates vote on Association business matters,”

http://www.ada.org/prof/resources/pubs/adanews/adanewsarticle.asp?articleid=3821

1] Res. 70 states that if any member of the ADA, including delegation member, council, committee or task force member, or Board of Trustees member has been acknowledged as breaking the attorney-client privilege or executive session, that member is, at a minimum, barred from ever again participating in an attorney-client or executive session within the ADA. This shall include such acts which have been acknowledged as occurring prior to the enactment of this resolution.

2] Res. 67 would specify that candidates for elective or appointive officers may not have had any sanctions bestowed upon them by the Association. Also referred was Res. 67RC, which would direct that anyone found by the Committee on Credentials, Rules and Order to have violated his or her duties to the Association would be disqualified from holding elective or appointive office.

3] Res. 68 was referred to the Council on Ethics, Bylaws and Judicial Affairs for report to the 2010 House with recommendations for Bylaws changes. The proposal calls for CEBJA to review the Bylaws and craft language that would define the mechanism for sanctions up to and including removal from office of a delegation member or Board of Trustee member if there is found to be cause for removal as shall be defined. That cause, at a minimum, should include those causes as delineated currently for council members. Res. 68 also calls for a method for fair and impartial hearings to be recommended and the establishment of an authorized House committee that can be held on an ad interim basis between annual sessions of the House of Delegates with authority to determine and impose any such sanctions deemed appropriate. 

Remember, the ADA is a non-profit, professional organization whose only purpose for existence is to serve dental patients through dentist members who support it with dues. When one reads these and other resolutions in Jakush’s article, it looks like ADA President Dr. Ron Tankersley is running the Pentagon. We’re only dentists for crying out loud!

Dr. Annie Bukacek’s 6-month battle with CMS

This morning I read what has turned out to be a popular article titled “Investigators descend on doctor,” written by Candace Chase, writing for the Daily Inter Lake which serves northwest Montana.

http://www.dailyinterlake.com/news/local_montana/article_d8cde54e-cc2d-11de-9ddd-001cc4c03286.html

“Dr. Annie Bukacek of Hosanna Health Care in Kalispell was surprised when a 30- to 40-foot-long command-post vehicle pulled up unannounced last week, along with a posse of state and federal health-care fraud investigators.”

“Bukacek points out that anyone – a disgruntled ex-employee or patient or someone who doesn’t like a physician’s looks or politics – could trigger an investigation and cost a physician as well as the government thousands of dollars.” 

I wonder what would happen if a dentist openly taunts CMS leaders? As I previously mentioned, it is Dr. Bukacek who claims, “They said they have to followup every allegation made.” 

When all American dentists are required to volunteer for NPI numbers and can no longer be legally paid in cash at the time of service, we’ll all be hung by an ADA-approved mistake of historic proportions. I suggest that ADA members take time right now to jot down names so that when judgment day inevitably arrives, one will be prepared to hold accountable the ADA employees who recommended the numbers. After reading how ADA leaders are hunkering down, it looks like going through employees will probably be the only way to touch the bosses they bravely try to shield.

Oh yeah. I posted the 5th of almost 30 comments that so far follow Candace Chase’s provocative article:

“Dr. Annie Bukacek’s experience is why as a US citizen in the land of the free, I simply refuse to do business with the US government. Bite me, CMS. Did you hear me? I said bite me!”

Assessment

It’s not likely that I’ll regret those words because I am powerless to stop myself from typing them anyway.

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ADA Opens a Facebook

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Perhaps too Early?

[By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS]pruitt

Something strange has happened to www.DentalBlogs.com I think they have partially shut down their Facebook account. They no longer feature original articles such as those by Dr. Rhonda Savage and Ms. Linda Miles, and in the last couple of weeks, they eliminated their collection of photos. Now the site only features ads and press releases. Does anyone else wonder what happened? Sure you do! This is exciting.

Perhaps Re-Tooling 

Unless they are just re-tooling this weekend, I suspect that since their previous format was biased heavily in favor of advertising dollars in a tough economy, their funding simply dried up. Like so many other advertising-related careers, the dinosaur found it couldn’t compete in a 2.0 market.  Nevertheless, today I did learn something important from the DentalBlogs Wall: The ADA has opened a Facebook account.

http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/pages/American-Dental-Association/32252997166?ref=mf

Such transparency is inspirational

When I announced this news on Twitter a few hours ago (“Proots”), neither the ADA nor the TDA had yet told membership. Yea, I scooped them on their in-house news. It happens all the time.  Naturally, I became a fan of the ADA Facebook. When I joined, there were already 1205 fans, even though the site is yet operational. I found that intriguing because it usually takes a long time for most FBs to attain 1200 fans – especially when all one can gather is the mission statement of the ADA’s newest Internet site.

My View 

Here’s what I see: About the time DentalBlogs laid off employees from their fully active Facebook, the ADA opened theirs (Gasp)! The ADA was well known to DentalBlogs because the ADA once advertised with them regularly. That is where I found an article about the ADA-approved CareCredit/GE that ended up causing problems for some people and entertainment for others. Let’s face it, friends. I just know that I’m not the only dentist in the nation with at least two burning questions. I bet at least 4 others are wondering who were the first seven fans to sign up for the ADA Facebook and Has Kim Volk, CEO of DDPA signed up yet?

Because the number of fans is rapidly piling up, such information from a few weeks (?) ago could soon be just too difficult to uncover from the fans list on the ADA site. It took a long time for me to scroll down through 1200 names – looking for those I recognize (Gasp)!

Scrolling Quickly, but Carelessly

I could have easily missed several easily recognizable names in contemporary dentistry, but as far as I can tell, not only was Delta Dental Plans Association CEO Kim E. Volk’s name not present in the list of 1200 fans, but there were very few names I recognized … and I’m sorry if I insulted anyone. I also did not see “Ron Tankersley” and other ADA officials’ names on the fans list. Didn’t the ADA try partial transparency like this once before? I may be wrong, but I think I played a role in shutting it down a few years ago with my persistent and still unanswered questions about the NPI number.

More Semi-Reliable Information

Here’s another bolus of semi-reliable information: I also quickly scrolled through DentalBlog’s list of 400 fans and did not notice an unusual amount of matches with the ADA Facebook fans list.

Those who dare to do so, might just ask, “So if the ADA fans didn’t come from dentalblogs, where did they come from?” I think one possibility is that the ADA effort has been in Beta and limited to a select group of people up until now. Doesn’t it seem strange that nobody is able to post anything? Did someone open the doors a few hours early? So who were the first 7 fans? No, you don’t have to scroll down to find out for yourself. I’ll tell you.

Who is John Hergert?

The first person to become a fan of the ADA Facebook account is named John Hergert from Chicago, Illinois.

2nd – Laurie Rich

3rd – Amy Lund

4th – Kelsey Majors

5th – Jessica Stevens

6th – Samantha Campbell

7th – Lina Kulkormi

I don’t recognize any of the seven, and I have not searched anyone’s name other than John Hergert’s – the first person to become a fan of the ADA Facebook. I found someone named John Hergert in Chicago, Illinois who is Associate Vice President at Lipman Hearne Inc. – an advertising agency.

http://www.spoke.com/info/p6JVgPy/JohnHERGERT.

Here is the bio of the person I only suspect is the first to become a fan of the ADA Facebook.

John Hergert’s Biography

John Hergert Associate Vice President John Hergert has a keen understanding of what it takes to capture and hold the attention of marketing audiences via innovative marketing techniques. Formerly Associate Director of Marketing Communications at DePaul University in Chicago, John works with both traditional and interactive media to design and implement marketing strategies that build a client’s image, increase support, and grow enrollment or attendance. John’s experience includes developing ROI-based marketing strategies for a variety of nonprofit and for-profit clients. Prior to DePaul, John was an account executive overseeing marketing and advertising strategy, web development, direct mail, print production, and promotional development for clients including Disney, Marconi, Owens Corning, and Reynolds. John began his marketing career while at the University of Wisconsin, where he was hired by a Los Angeles firm to implement cutting-edge marketing programs for Saturn and Trek Bicycle Corporation. John received his B.A. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin and his Master of Science in Information Systems from DePaul University.”

Assessment 

What do you want to bet that the ADA Facebook is Mr. Hergert’s baby?

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Why ADA / Intelligent Dental Marketing Failed?

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The ADA is an Incredible Dinosaur

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDSpruitt

As a member of the ADA, I am also a part owner in any business venture the leaders of the organization enter into. I’ve observed the loss of my investment in a business deal because my employees made mistakes. As a business owner, it would be simply irresponsible for me to ignore something like this.

The Embarrassing Story  

Do you know what part is missing from this embarrassing story? The ADA has not uttered a word about the ADA/IDM failure… Or, as the ADA Business Enterprise Inc. leaders call it – the ”ADA/idm” failure.

The fact that the two business entities never came to an agreement on what to even call their doomed joint venture reveals a lot about the egos that gummed up the machinery. It’s possible that pride undermined our non-profit/for-profit partnership from the very start. We just don’t know what happened because there are so many possible reasons for this business model to fail. Will loss of ADA members’ investment happen again if the cause is not recognized and eliminated? I think the chances are pretty good that even more embarrassment is on the way. Given the soft environment, it’s only natural.

Over my 27 year career as a dentist, I have met many ADA officials, both employed and elected, on all three levels of the tripartite system of governance – local, state and national. From the topmost quality of character I have witnessed in all but a few politically-empowered and proudly insensitive exceptions, I can assure you that like all major projects of the ADA, the failed ADA/IDM adventure into dental marketing was assembled with nothing but noble intentions and benevolent wishes for ADA members and dental patients – at least from the ADA side. Whether the leaders of the ADA’s new business partner, Intelligent Dental Marketing out of Utah, were dedicated to serving ADA members in a captive market is unlikely. The ADA/IDM business model is sort of like managed care dentistry. When dentists sign contracts that provide them with clients regardless of how they are treated, there is a natural tendency for dentists to become unappreciative of those who pay their bills.

Little Consumer Competition  

The ADA allows Americans to experience what socialism is like in markets where there is no competition for consumers: Professionals such as dentists stop trying to please their patients, and IDM stops trying to please dentists. If IDM was a decent company before the business venture with ADA membership, the ADA ruined them with a sweetheart deal that included protecting them from competition, as well as shielding them from complaints by angry ADA members. And like dental patients with preferred provider lists, ADA members noticed the bad treatment. However, complaints were never made transparent even as more ADA members where signing contracts with ADA/IDM. That is unfair and unethical.

Just Google for Complaints  

Want to see what an embarrassment in situ looks like? Just Google “CareCredit complaints.” ADA-approved CareCredit/GE has a long history of sweetheart deals like the one they made with ADA leaders. Their trail is always marked by complaints. The ADABEI is selling ADA members’ reputations. I just read ADA reporter James Berry’s article highlighting outgoing ADA President Dr. John S. Findley’s address to the House of Delegates that he gave on Friday. The article is titled, “We built our home on a foundation of science and values: Dr. Findley”

http://www.ada.org/prof/resources/pubs/adanews/adanewsarticle.asp?articleid=3771

One free-standing paragraph in the article caught my attention that perhaps exposes a symptom of the pride and secrecy that surrounds the ADA/IDM disaster. In the middle of the article, James Berry offers this cryptic message that was obviously not meant for all members to understand:

“On the Association itself, the president noted that the ADA has undergone significant change in the past year and a half. As problems were discovered and defined, he said, the leadership acted to resolve them.” 

Was the ADA/IDM fiasco one of the problems that was resolved? Did they resolve the problem with CareCredit/GE causing ADA members to be covered by the Red Flags Rule – and not letting members know about it? Did they resolve the problem of data breaches and how they can mean certain bankruptcy for ADA members, even if the members do the right thing?

Possibly  

We just don’t know which problems were resolved, but somehow we should feel much better, now that President Findley got the message out to mid-level ADA leaders who probably know exactly what he is referring to. And, by protecting lower caste members from knowing things they don’t need to know, problems are quietly resolved and the profession’s image is preserved. “Image is everything” – ADA/IDM business slogan.

“Findley for the future”- Dr. John S. Findley’s campaign slogan.

Bingo! We have a match.

We should not forget that before IDM leaders got in way over their heads and started doing foolish things like marketing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) talents they lacked, there has not been a dues increase for a couple of years – in part because of the profits that were churned from ADA/IDM purchases ADA members made. I am certain that the ADA Business Enterprise Inc’s failure breaks the hearts of sincere and devoted leaders in the ADA who would have never recommended going outside the ADA’s Mission Statement had ADA employees been transparent with them. The officials of IDM couldn’t care less. Their part of the venture is much easier to dissolve for the Utah businessmen. They just picked up and walked away. However, the ADA officials have a fiduciary responsibility to members who trusted them. Once again, virtually all of the ADA leaders are just like you and me. Some just got in too deep on our behalf and couldn’t shut the mistake down before members got needlessly hurt.

Officials in other businesses the size of the ADA are held accountable for their mistakes and are not afforded the opportunity to filter communications with the owners because of image concerns. This kind of sweetheart deal for business executives, most of who come from Delta Dental, UnitedHealthcare or both, as in the case of the new executive director, Dr. Kathleen T. O’Loughlan, occurs only in the ADA and to a lesser extent in the US government and dental insurance industry.

Assessment

The state of the ADA is not nearly as rosy as Dr. Findley would have us believe. I think we have all seen authoritarian leaders re-write history. The ADA is an incredible dinosaur.Business can be ugly in the highly competitive land of the free. If businesses don’t take risks, we cannot move forward. For that reason, mistakes are expected. But never forget. Owners expect to be told about them.

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Encrypt or De-identify PHI

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Which One Just Might Work?

[By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS]pruitt

The United States’ advancement in Healthcare Information Technology, which has the potential to lead to wonderful money-saving cures through research using trustworthy interoperable health records, is currently stopped cold by patient security problems that are only getting worse. Our lawmakers cannot get around the security obstacle without resorting to authoritarian means using CMS’s power to withhold providers’ discounted payments and threats of obscene fines from the HHS and the FTC. History shows that tyranny is not tolerated well in this part of the world. Lawmakers can get their butts voted smooth out of office in my neighborhood.

HITECH  

Here is something nobody mentions: Despite the current hope in a thick, political fantasy called HITECH, encryption of patients’ Protected Health Information [PHI] is a non-starter in the land of the free. Everyone knows that resourceful, cynical Americans will simply never trust encryption to protect their secrets, and will reliably withhold important information from their eMRs – one way or another. Doctors as well as patients can be expected to go out of their way to sabotage technology they fear. We all intuitively know this is true, don’t we? We aren’t so naïve to think all the players will happily play by the rules, are we? And I think we can all agree that an untrustworthy digital health record in an emergency room is worse than no patient information at all. Security is a grand problem with eMRs that started with HIPAA changes in 2003 that made eHRs so slippery. And the problem is clearly not being resolved. Not yet.

Public Lacks Trust 

Regardless of the campaign donations which follow him, there is nothing Newt Gingrich and his entrepreneurial friends in high places can do about the public’s lack of trust in encryption. It gets worse: Encryption hasn’t a chance of isolating PHI from dishonest employees in doctors’ offices, and slippery digital patient data can be moved soo easily. Everyone knows that as well, don’t they? It is estimated that two-thirds of the identities stolen in the nation are lifted from doctors’ offices. That’s us, Doc. HIPAA is not only irrelevant, it is an expensive distraction – it gives future ID theft victims a false sense of security.

HIPAA Approved 

De-identifying digital records is not mentioned in HITECH as a HIPAA-approved method of security. Yet it is the ONLY solution that promises to be even more secure than paper records. Because of heavy stakeholder stakes in hospital care, it will take longer for CEO-types to embrace patient-friendly de-identification. Other than identifiers such as names, social security numbers, birthdates, addresses and other items that have street value, NOBODY cares what is in a dental record. I actually think this opens a tremendous opportunity for someone courageous in the Texas Dental Association to discuss the feasibility of de-identification of dental records. Otherwise, instead of leading the nation in solving security problems, the TDA will look just as stupid as the ADA.

Encryption would also provide a dangerous false sense of security in eMRs – that is if it had a chance in the marketplace. But encryption will never go far because consumers simply won’t buy it. That is a marketplace fact that stoically optimistic HIT stakeholders are trying hard to avoid. They also know they are running out of time. Deadlines are quickly approaching for both HIPAA and the Red Flags Rule that providers are far from prepared for.

Former Attorney Speaks 

Bill Lappen, a former attorney and author of the ad I copied below, as well as a partner with his brother David in the de-identified health record venture says: “Since no identifying information is ever entered, a hacker can’t determine whose information is shown.”

So in addition to protecting one’s practice against dishonest or vindictive employees, de-identification of dental records would make hacking a dentist’s computer a complete waste of time, and hackers wouldn’t endanger dental patients and bankrupt dentists.

My Confidence 

I confidently tell you that soon, someone smart will come upon the unprecedented idea that the ultimate answer to our security problem in healthcare will be de-identification of medical records, not encryption. De-identification allows a compromise of privacy for only a miniscule percentage of physicians’ patients. We cannot allow that to stand in the way of better health for everyone else. Those special cases are so few that I am confident that they can be dealt with individually. We simply must move forward. I’ll have to retire some day. I may need help from Medicare.

Encryption gives us only danger and protects nobody but a thief with a key.

Assessment 

We’ve wasted enough time on HITECH and HIPAA, as well as CCHIT. It’s time to say no to stakeholders and pay attention to patients’ needs instead of those who would needlessly increase the cost of their care. Stimulus money attracts cockroaches.

In the name of Hippocrates, disregard the tainted HIPAA mandate. It is dangerous, and especially absurd in dentistry.

Link: http://www.theopenpress.com/index.php?a=press&id=58568

Life-Saving Patient Information can be Online, Anonymous and Usable

Published on: September 26th, 2009 12:19am

By: blappen

Los Angeles, CA (OPENPRESS) September 26, 2009 — Hospital Emergency Rooms need instant access to patient medical information. Allergic reactions and dangerous drug interactions can be deadly. Time is critical. Until now, privacy was a large concern. Two brothers, who have developed medical software over the past 15 years, think they have a simple first step towards moving patient information on to the internet.

“The ER doesn’t need to look up the information by patient name” said Bill Lappen, a former attorney. “We have implemented secure systems in the past, but no matter how secure we make the site, we have to assume that it will be hacked” added David Lappen, a computer design engineer from Stanford. “But providing instant access to life-saving information is too important to ignore”, he added. To protect patient privacy, their system does not know to whom the medical information belongs. Since the person’s identifying information is never on the system, it can’t be stolen. “By enabling anonymous entry, we have protected people’s privacy while allowing them to put their life-saving information in a place where it can be instantly accessed when needed”, added Bill Lappen.

www.AMCC.me is the public service website they created. It allows anyone to enter medical information anonymously. The site provides a random ID which the user carries in his/her wallet. For someone to see that user’s medical information, they merely enter the ID into the site. Unless the user has given them their ID, the information shown is meaningless. That same information, when associated with a patient, can save their life.

Since no identifying information is ever entered, a hacker can’t determine whose information is shown. “Secure patient-controlled Electronic Medical Records are now available on the internet” said David Lappen. A sample ID has been set up on the site to allow users to evaluate the concept before setting up their own free ID.

Contact:

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Bill@AMCC.me

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Dr. Pruitt Invites Dr. Cohen to Discuss eDRs

Where is the ADA’s Representative?

By Darrell K. Pruittpruitt; DDS

He or she should have been talking with me long ago. I have the audience and I’m giving you that opportunity I promised you, Dr. Donald Cohen.

Rest Easy

I’m aware that I possibly make you uncomfortable, considering how “unprofessionally” I’ve publicly treated lesser devoted HIPAA consultants. Rest easy! As soon as I read your article, I could tell that you’re different from your colleagues I’ve met. First of all, like me, you’re a dentist. That’s very important. Secondly, your credentials are impressive and reveal that compliancy is not a hobby for you like it is for others. Nobody can accumulate a history as impressive as yours without professional dedication. The last point, and the most important of the three, you seem honest about HIPAA compliance.

A Professional

It wasn’t lost on me that in your article you were professionally non-judgmental of the Rule. Instead of trying to justify a defenseless law, your job is to help dentists comply with the mandate as it is written or risk significant fines. Like tax-collecting, someone’s got to do the job of delivering bad news. You have a legitimate purpose to be involved in the dental industry, even if what you teach makes little difference at all if a dentist’s records are breached. I argue that following the inevitable bankruptcy from a breach, HHS fines are hardly a deterrent. And that is the issue: eDRs containing patient identifiers are too risky for the marketplace.

Electronic Dental Records

I think you would have to agree that eDRs are going nowhere until records are safe, and encryption is not going to be sufficient to protect dentists against dishonest employees. Ambitious bureaucrats in waiting, such as HIPAA consultants Travis Criswell, Sharalyn Fichtl, Kelly Mclendon and Olivia Wann – not a dentist among them – hooked their careers to the HIPAA mandate to avoid the tough sales jobs competition otherwise demands in the free market. All four share an authoritarian misconception that since it is the law, dentists will be forced to purchase their products – even if they are utterly senseless. I think we both know that they are oh so wrong. I promised earlier to give you an opportunity to publicly support truth in eDRs if you so choose. Perhaps we could rationally discuss in front of everyone how dentists can wriggle free of the approaching mess. There is no pressure here, other than this is public invitation. Since you haven’t made unrealistic claims about eDRs like others have, I am not interested in hounding you further. I simply ask you to consider responding to the article I posted in your name on PennWell titled “Dr. Donald Cohen’s opportunity.”

http://community.pennwelldentalgroup.com/forum/topics/dr-donald-cohens-opportunity

Assessment

I sincerely appreciate the respect you have shown me, and I pledge to afford you the same. Of all the consultants I have approached with my concerns about HIPAA and eDRs, you are the first to even acknowledge a problem simply by posting my concerns. I think you have the courage to face the realities of the marketplace, while others foolishly think dentists are a captive market.

Note: I submitted this to be posted following an August 28th press release posted by HIPAA consultant Dr. Donald Cohen titled, “Dentists Should Know about New HIPAA Rules.”

http://www.dentalblogs.com/archives/administrator/dentists-should-know-about-new-hipaa-rules/comment-page-1/#comment-35672

If you are interested in discussing the topics of interoperability with fax machines, de-identified eDRs and security that surpasses paper records, in front of you is the opportunity to address your largest audience yet, Dr. Cohen. I’m self-syndicated.

Note: Do you realize that if Dr. Cohen takes me up on the offer, this will be the first time two dentists have openly discussed eDRs on the Internet? Do you think it’s about time?

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BCBS-TX Reverses NPI Policy

Victory at Last

[By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS]pruitt

Every now and then, I enjoy little victories. My war with BCBS-TX started when they began declining to pay their clients’ claims if they originated in my office. Since I’m not a HIPAA-covered entity, I didn’t volunteer for an arbitrary National Provider Identification number.

The behemoth insurance company not only successfully drove away some of my long term patients, but their clever policy blocked my access to their pool of clients who were led to believe their dental insurance was good everywhere – until my office manager had to tell them otherwise. BCBSTX is a sleazy company simply because it lies to its clients as policy. 

Successful Claims

In the last two weeks, my office manager has successfully filed a couple of claims and it appears that unless payment is blocked in the next day or so, BCBSTX no longer requires Texas dentists to have NPI numbers.

Asessment

That’s nice, but I want more. I want the state CHIP program to drop its NPI requirement as well. Why limit access to dental care to the poor because of a number that only helps insurers. I’m just getting started, Texas.

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Kelly Mclendon RHIA censors D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS

Dateline: 8.15.09

pruitt

Dear Kelly Mclendon, Registered Health Information Administrator

You are beginning to make me feel insulted, and I will not have that. I just noticed that the last two comments I submitted to your Website, www.spacecoastmedicine.com, on August 9 and 10, are still “awaiting moderation.”

http://www.spacecoastmedicine.com/2009/08/electronic-records-for-all-patients-mandated-by-2014.html#comment-89 

(For clarity, the comments which scared Mr. Mclendon are copied below) 

Over five days have passed, and I want you, your readers and my readers to know that I spent a lot of time preparing those two pieces exclusively for you at your invitation for comments. You are as sincere as I am, aren’t you? 

When I’ve caught others in the squeeze you might be experiencing, several have pleaded that the censorship was an innocent oversight, and did the right thing immediately by posting everything I send them (include this comment, please). And then again, there are a few slow-learning, command-and-control types who think they cam still somehow control the content of their Websites. Like you, Kelly, an anonymous dentalblogs.com editor whom I call “Nancy” by default, also informed me that my comments were awaiting indefinite moderation. What a foolish, rookie mistake that proved to be. For example, if you google “dentalblogs.com,” my article “Dentalblogs.com hates D. Kellus Pruitt DDS” is their 4th hit. It seems to be very popular. 

How’s this for the title of a comment that should make it to your first page by Monday: “Kelly Mclendon RHIA censors D. Kellus Pruitt DDS”? Please, no phone calls. 

D. Kellus Pruitt; DDS 

Dateline 8.9.09 

I’m sure physicians’ businesses are no different than dentists’ when it comes to the liability of data breaches – especially considering the giddy, mindless momentum of HITECH-empowered HIPAA. If a computer is stolen in a burglary, compromised by a dishonest employee who sells IDs on the side, or otherwise hacked, and the dentist reports the tragedy according to the letter of the law, it inevitably means bankruptcy even before the feel-good fines are levied by HHS (HIPAA) and the FTC (Red Flags Rule) for not having required irrelevant documentation of administrative trivia in order. What were our lawmakers thinking? 

I guess the HIPAA blunder proves that when politicians, insurers and healthcare IT entrepreneurs get together in vendor clubs like CCHIT, the only government-approved eHR certification authority, they can mandate damn well any law that suits their needs. 

Allscripts CEO Glen Tullman, who is an influential friend of Barack Obama as well as a Trustee of CCHIT told Bloomberg.com reporter Alex Nussbaum in an interview almost a year ago that providers should make the financial commitment “to ensure that doctors have some skin in the game.” 

Glen Tullman is only one reason our nation’s healthcare IT industry stinks from the top down. 

D. Kellus Pruitt; DDS

Dateline: 8.10.09 

Thank you, Kelly Mclendon, for providing a rare venue to possibly clear up a few items of uncertainty about eHRs in dentistry. First of all, if a technological advancement such as eDRs does not pay for itself, even with government subsidies, who pays for it? That seems like a quick way to increase the costs of dental care – and for what? How do dental patients benefit from expensive HIT solutions when the telephone, fax machine and US Mail serve us fine? 

Digitalization of records offers no benefits to dental patients. Only stakeholders who would grab our patients’ money benefit from HIT. Everyone else loses. Trusting, naive dental patients lose the most. 

Electronic dental records are expensive hazards. If you can think of a lame reason for them, please let me hear it. You can bet I’ve crushed it before. I’ve been down this road with others many, many times. 

Within a week, the government will price computerization smooth out of dentistry. Over 90% of dentists have patient identities on their computers today. If HIPAA is enforced, with or without the Red Flags Rule, I predict that less than half of the nation’s dentists will be computerized a year from now. 

As for your argument that eHRs somehow provide up-to-date and otherwise superior medical histories for dental patients, think about this: If someone changes a paper medical history, it leaves a paper trail. If an insurance thief alters allergies on a digital record to suit his or her own needs, nobody in the emergency room can tell. Whoever said “Paper kills,” lied. It is a catchy PR pitch, though.

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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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ADA President and Broken Promises

The Future President

By Darrell K. Puritt; DDS

pruitt8

The election for a future ADA president occurs the first week in October in Hawaii at the 2009 annual meeting. A couple of days ago, the ADA News Online posted the ADA President-elect candidates’ statements.

http://www.ada.org/prof/resources/pubs/adanews/adanewsarticle.asp?articleid=3133

All three sound like they support meaningful dialogue with membership: Candidate Dr. Raymond Gist says one of his goals is: “To protect and preserve ownership of the intellectual property of the ADA while demonstrating transparency and fostering an understanding of how our system works.” Candidate Dr. William Glecos says “My first goal will be to coordinate and improve our communication efforts within the ADA. To make sure we are engaging all our members and imparting a sense of connection and transparency.” Candidate Dr. Marie Schweinebraten says “… communication, internal and external, must be improved to respond in today’s world … barriers must be eliminated to allow member input and volunteer involvement when solving specific issues.” I’ve seen candidates use these same buzzwords before, but not mean them. Dentistry is being severely threatened right now, and I’m too young to retire. So I want to see a future leader confident enough to walk through fire with me on behalf of my patients.

Promises from ADA President-elect candidates have been very disappointing so far. Past President Dr. Mark Feldman, President Dr. John Findley and President-elect Dr. Ron Tankersley each promised “transparency.” Feldman and Findley broke their promises very early, and so far, Tankersley has done no better. Nine months ago I invited Dr. Tankersley to a conversation about the future of electronic dental records and he chose to insult me with silence rather than respond. I took it personally, Ron, and I’ll never forget it. Because all three of these presidents are simply rude people, it wouldn’t bother me to never ask any of them for friendship. 

So do you think our fresh leaders are any more sincere about transparency with membership? Or are they also hoping to be safely elected. This could be an opportunity for one or more of the three to break loose and be counted as a brave leader… or not. Let me show you what Feldman, Findley and Tankersley have gotten us into. Below is a list of duties expected of dentists with NPI numbers that came out today on ANCO Online. If any of you three candidates have the courage to respond to my challenging comments about what I consider to be a perfect example of a renegade department, jump right in. Concerned members need to be warned about the courage we can count on. If you cannot defend the Department of Dental Informatics, just say so. We’ll all be better off. And on truth, we can build. What an opportunity for you! I bet one could easily gain the delegates’ attention by doing the right thing, even if it is unpopular at first to those who may have helped you to power.

Responding to this article in a respectful, professional way could be just what it takes to get a person elected to the highest position in the American Dental Association. That’s what you intensely want, isn’t it? You just have to recognize what I am spelling out for you, Raymond, William and Marie. Just look at the growing discontent with the ADA on the Internet. Whoever is the first to show sincerity and courage, will become a hero to those of us who feel betrayed by those we once trusted. Victory will never be easier. I’ve had a look around. Believe me when I tell you that things are soo bad that even I could be a contender. Don’t make me run for the job.

Here is the first issue for discussion if you are interested: For dentists who were persuaded by the ADA Department of Dental Informatics to quickly volunteer for the 10 digit identifying number, let me ask you this: If you had been told what ADA employees are paid to tell you, which you can read below, would you have applied for an NPI number? And if you were forced to apply for a number by a managed care contract with BCBSTX, Delta Dental or other discount dentistry broker, would that be considered an unfair business practice?

Let’s look at fairness: Who does the NPI number help? Dental patients or BCBSTX? Or perhaps the ADA? We were told again and again in ADA News Online articles written by Arlene Furlong that the best reason for the NPI number was convenience. She said office managers would love it because it would replace numerous identification numbers. When one reads the list of NPI obligations a dentist volunteers their office manager for, all those other numbers don’t seem so bad after all. Why was HIPAA so important that the ADA Department of Dental Informatics forced employees under its supervision to intentionally mislead membership? Does the ADA work for dentists and their patients or for CMS? There you go, Dr. Raymond Gist, Dr. William Glecos and Dr. Marie Schweinebraten. It’s your turn now. If you have the guts to step up to a challenge, it could pay off big. Besides, even if you get elected without first responding to my concerns doesn’t mean you’ll get rid of me. Oh heaven’s no.

D. Kellus Pruitt; DDS

http://anco- .blogspot.com/2009/08/asco-coa-cms-palmettoj1mac-news.html

**** CMS NEWS ****

This message is for health care providers, particularly physicians and other practitioners, who have obtained National Provider Identifiers (NPIs) and have records in the National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES). The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recommends that each health care provider, including individual physicians and non-physician practitioners: · Secure and maintain their own NPPES account information (i.e., User ID, Password, and Secret Question/Answer) for safety and accessibility purposes. Health care providers should maintain the confidentiality of their User ID, password, and Secret Question/Answer in order to protect their NPPES information from unauthorized access. Reset their NPPES passwords at least once a year.

See the NPPES Application Help page at https://nppes.cms.hhs.gov/NPPES/Help.do and select the ‘Reset Password Page’ for applicable rules. Those rules indicate the length, format, content and requirements of NPPES passwords. Review their NPPES records in order to ensure that the information reflects current and correct information. Covered health care providers are required to update their NPPES information within 30 days of the effective date of the change.

Viewing NPPES Information Health care providers, including physicians and non-physician practitioners, can view their NPPES information in one of two ways: (1) By accessing the NPPES record at https://nppes.cms.hhs.gov/NPPES/Welcome.do and following the NPI hyperlink and selecting Login. The user will be prompted to enter the User ID and password that he/she previously created. If the health care provider has forgotten the password, enter the User ID and click the “Reset Forgotten Password” button to navigate to the Reset Password Page. If the health care provider enters an incorrect User ID and Password combination three times, the User ID will be disabled. Please contact the NPI Enumerator at 1-800-465-3203 if the account is disabled or if the health care provider has forgotten the User ID. OR (2) By accessing the NPI Registry at https://nppes.cms.hhs.gov/NPPES/NPIRegistryHome.do.

The NPI Registry gives the health care provider an online view of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)-disclosable NPPES data. The health care provider can search for its information using the name or NPI as the criterion. Information regarding NPPES data that are FOIA-disclosable can be found at http://www.cms.hhs.gov/NationalProvIdentStand/ by selecting ‘Data Dissemination’. Please note: Business Mailing Address and Business Practice location information (full address and corresponding telephone numbers) are key data elements that are FOIA-disclosable.

Health care providers should not report their residential address unless it is their Business Mailing Address or Business Practice location. The NPPES data appearing on the NPI Registry cannot be deleted; however, it can be updated or changed. Updating NPPES Information Health care providers, including physicians and non-physician practitioners, can correct, add, or delete information in their NPPES records by accessing their NPPES records at https://nppes.cms.hhs.gov/NPPES/Welcome.do and following the NPI hyperlink and selecting Login. The user will be prompted to enter the User ID and password that he/she previously created.

Please note: Required information cannot be deleted from an NPPES record; however, required information can be changed/updated to ensure that NPPES captures the correct information. Certain information is inaccessible via the web, thus requiring the change/update to be made via paper application. The paper NPI Application/Update Form (CMS-10114) can be downloaded and printed at http://www.cms.hhs.gov/cmsforms/downloads/CMS10114.pdf.

Deactivating the NPI Health care providers, including physicians and non-physician practitioners, can deactivate their NPIs if the NPIs are no longer required or needed. Reasons for deactivation include retirement, business dissolved, or death of the health care provider. A request for deactivation must be submitted via paper application. The paper NPI Application/Update Form (CMS-10114) can be downloaded and printed at http://www.cms.hhs.gov/cmsforms/downloads/CMS10114.pdf.

Health care providers should review the instructions located on the application regarding deactivations in order to properly complete the deactivation request. The Power of Attorney or Executor of the Will may complete the application for deactivation due to death of the health care provider.

Need More Information?

Providers can apply for an NPI online at https://nppes.cms.hhs.gov or can call the NPI enumerator to request a paper application at 1-800-465-3203. Visit CMS’ dedicated NPI web page at www.cms.hhs.gov/NationalProvIdentStand for additional NPI information.

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Janis Oshensky Lobbies Congress – Not Dentists

Show Me the Math

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDSpruitt 

I have noted here far too many times how it disappoints me that Delta Dental Plans Association vice president Janis Oshensky repeatedly chooses to turn to politicians rather than discuss Delta Dental’s arguably egregious and harmful policies with me, a dentist. I intend to put a stop to such disrespect one PR expert at a time if necessary.

Long ago I warned Oshensky that if she didn’t talk to me, she should probably just shut up in order to preserve what’s left of her Internet reputation. Since by posting her Letter to the Editor on POLITICO.com today, she obviously ignored my advice, this highly critical comment will reliably join three others of mine on her first page soon enough. Her employer is sacrificing her like a pawn.

The following comment is the one I posted on POLITICO.com in response to Oshensky’s letter. It might just help the vice president to finally come to a decision on this issue one way or the other. Either way, marketplace conversation like this cannot help but lead to safer air for the community … My pleasure.

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0709/24873.html

Dear POLITICO.com Editor:

This comment and subsequent invitation to Janis Oshensky is in response to the Delta Dental Plans Association vice president’s July 14, 2009 letter to you. Her letter is the most recent message she successfully sent Congress using a political news Website. Even though Ms. Oshensky holds the position of VP of dental relations as well as public policy, she has avoided answering this dentist’s questions about Delta Dental’s policies for months. If Ms. Oshensky is willing to do so, I would love for her to join me in discussion of Delta Dental’s taxation subsidy right here on POLITICO.com so that our lawmakers can witness a more balanced view of the issues.

Hello – It’s Me

Hello. My name is D. Kellus; Pruitt DDS, and I’m a practicing dentist in Fort Worth, Texas. It is my professional opinion that my patients are harmed by the policies of managed care dental plans like that sold by DDPA because there is no accountability to their clients or dentists. There is barely any accountability to those who select and pay for Delta’s products – dental patients’ naive bosses.

Like virtually every US citizen, your readers probably couldn’t care less about the dental industry. It is precisely because dentistry has been uninteresting for decades that make the microcosm of health care incredibly interesting to me. Let me uncover for your appreciation the event horizon in dental history. You could learn about more than just dentistry.

If left to natural forces of human nature, what happens to value when there is no accountability? For example, what do the 1975 East German Trabant and the 1979 Ford Pinto have in common? By popular vote, those products not only represent the two worst automobiles ever made, but the state shielded both manufacturers from accountability to consumers. Poor quality happens.

Oshensky argues against the taxation of managed care dental benefits like those sold to employers by Delta Dental. Let me offer that if Delta’s product were taxed like income, its value would quickly dive below the market threshold that attracts purchasers’ consideration.

Allow Me to Show-You the Math

Recently, Delta Dental of Michigan lost the accounts of thousands of GM retirees when their group dental benefits were cut in bankruptcy negotiations with UAW. Suddenly, Delta found itself forced to market their product to individuals who for once have the choice to keep their money. Faced with true competition for healthcare dollars, Delta leaders desperately cobbled together individual policies for the retirees who want to continue with their coverage. Even though Delta did everything possible to lower the cost of their coverage, the cheapest of the plans they offered still runs about $30 per person per month, and covers only 50% of everything, including preventive. So for premiums of $360 per year plus half the preferred providers’ 20% to 30% discounted fees, is this a bargain for Michigan retirees?

Free Markets 

In my free-market, fee-for-service practice, if a patient comes in for two cleanings and routine x-rays during a year, 100% of my bill is $208. This is the market price in my neighborhood that is continually challenged by lively competition with other dentists for new patients who may not even have dental benefits. Those customers pay in full at the time of visit, just like most people whose bosses purchased Delta Dental Plans.

Value Comparisons

So let’s compare value of Delta Dental’s product with cash. If I were a Delta Dental preferred provider, my fee of $208, less Delta’s 25% discount would be $156. Never mind that my wife has problems with my 70% cut in pay, let’s move on. 

The patient’s half of the $156 I earned is $78. $360 + $78 = $438. So for one uneventful year of discounted dental services with a dentist chosen from a list of names, a patient can expect to spend more than twice as much than if they paid the free-market price at the point of service.

Assessment

Not only is that hardly a bargain, but it is my opinion that managed care dentistry is dentistry by the lowest bidder with no quality control. That should be enough meat to get this conversation rolling. Now it’s your turn Ms. Oshensky. I think you have to admit that you’ve got holes to mend in the dental relations part of your job.

Conclusion

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ADA / IDM Breakup – You Heard it Here First

Will CareCredit be the Next ADA Subsidiary to Fail?

I saw a warning sign last week.

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS pruitt

My aggressive writing hobby has understandably brought me in hard contact with public relations people whose job is to insulate good ol’ boys from accountability – even if it means taking hits for the team and staining their reputations. Let’s face the fact we all of us involved in public relations know but don’t dare discuss: Depending on the ethics of one’s employer, PR professionals are sometimes used up like expendable pawns. And avoiding bylines for press releases no longer shields anyone from accountability.

I often silently stalk PR employees (Gasp!) on the Internet who work for sleazy companies just to better understand them. I’ve discovered that it is not hard to find and exploit the weaknesses of those whose heart isn’t behind selling their employer’s product. Sometimes all it takes is a fistful of transparency to cause defenseless representatives to completely shut up, and that alone makes our neighborhood safer. Committee-approved methods of evasion are as simple-minded as committees, so it doesn’t take long to figure them out – exposing the shameful ethics of those who sign off on the use of lame, institutional trickery.

For example, here’s a very popular, traditional PR trick: If a huge business entity such as the ADA has bad news they can no longer keep secret from customers, professional PR-types will advise their bosses to post bad news on a Friday to soften the blow. When traditional leaders find that they can no longer sidestep accountability, delaying accountability until a busy news day is the next best thing one can purchase. Even though the tricks seem simple, there are people who study evasion science as part of obtaining a degree in marketing.

So how good is the ADA’s PR team? How much time did ADA members’ employees buy for leaders before they had to quietly acknowledge an expensive failure?

On July 10, a Friday, “ADA/idm to phase out service” was posted on ADA News Online without a byline. (Another PR trick: When the ADA posts an orphan without a name, it means someone is ashamed of the bastard.)

http://www.ada.org/prof/resources/pubs/adanews/adanewsarticle.asp?articleid=3655

ADA Business Enterprises, Inc. (ADABEI), a wholly owned ADA subsidiary, announced today that ADA Intelligent Dental Marketing (ADAidm) of Salt Lake City, one of its joint venture companies, is no longer able to provide marketing services to its customers due to significant production and operational difficulties.”

Now the ADA must refund money to members in a depressed market. Could this embarrassment for our professional organization have been quietly avoided instead of delayed and magnified? I personally started seeing clues of CEO Trajan King’s reticence long ago, and warned ADA leaders in Chicago about my concerns. Nobody ever responded to my numerous, sincere warnings.

These are highly critical times on Capitol Hill and our patients trust us to represent their welfare. Dentists are their last hope, because there is nobody else who cares. Practicing dentists are solely responsible for assuring the benevolence of our niche market, and we are losing control publicly. Disasters like the ADA/IDM make the ADA look foolish to Congress, and word gets around fast on the Internet.

This morning, I read an article posted on The NY Times titled “Study Measures the Chatter of the News Cycle, “ written by Steve Lohr.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/13/technology/internet/13influence.html?_r=1

Researchers at Cornell used powerful computers and sophisticated algorithms to accomplish an unprecedented analysis of news articles and comments on the Web during the 2008 presidential campaign. They studied the characteristics of the news cycle by scanning 1.6 million mainstream media sites and blogs for repeated phrases and tracking the history of their appearances.

Lohr writes: “The researchers’ data points to an evolving model of news media. While most news flowed from the traditional media to the blogs, the study found that 3.5 percent of story lines originated in the blogs and later made their way to traditional media.”

The study also shows that traditional news outlets are still quicker than blogs by 2.5 hours. I should now point out that the Cornell study was performed using data from very popular, huge news items collected during a presidential election – not hidden, niche news like dentistry’s.

If you are involved in the dental industry, where are you more likely to read time-sensitive news about our profession first? In an ADA publication, or from D. Kellus Pruitt; DDS?

Whereas traditional media is 2.5 hours quicker with popular topics, I scooped traditional ADA News Online by three weeks when I posted “ADA/idm – A bad union after all?” on the PennWell forum.

http://community.pennwelldentalgroup.com/forum/topics/adaidm-a-bad-union-after-all

So what about the warning sign I saw concerning CareCredit – a wholly-owned subsidiary of the ADA?

When Trajan King, former CEO of the defunct ADA/IDM partnership refused to acknowledge my questions, I immediately suspected something was terribly wrong with the union of my non-profit professional organization and his for-profit Utah advertisement company. Six months later, my fears were confirmed. Now then, I hope it grabs someone’s attention that I see the same warning signs coming from the ADA’s CareCredit business. Note this date: July 13, 2009.

On Thursday, July 9, CareCredit purchased a press release on dentalblogs.com: “CareCredit Adds 24-Month, No-Interst [sic] Payment Plan” (no byline).

http://www.dentalblogs.com

Since dental problems only get worse, I consider the idea of extending credit to dental patients is a benevolent thought during these hard financial times. I also say that the offer appears to have been put together out of generosity and not greed like the ADA/IDM disaster. However, at 4:54 pm on the same day that CareCredit’s press release was posted, I submitted a difficult question for the anonymous author of the piece who works PR for CareCredit – and is an ADA employee.

“If the Red Flags Rule is not delayed for the third time in three weeks, how will it affect those who offer Care Credit?”

I was given the hopeful response “Your comment is awaiting moderation,” but days later there is no sign that my question is being considered at all. Please, oh please ask yourself: What could CareCredit leaders be hiding and how much will it end up costing ADA membership?

I will not be ignored by anyone. Today, I submitted two follow-up questions on dentalblogs.com. I considered warning the anonymous moderator that this is being simulposted on other blogs, as well as described on Twitter, but then I thought, why spoil the fun? Let the leaders of the ADA Business Enterprises, Inc. (ADABEI) get word of my e-Attack from their colleagues. Won’t they be surprised!

Oh, and for those who are wondering what happened to ADA/IDM CEO Trajan King – he quit.

Dear Dentalblogs.com moderator:

On July 9 at 4:54 pm, I submitted a sincere question concerning how the Red Flags Rule will affect ADA members who sign up for CareCredit. Instead of posting it with the promise of an answer, you regretfully chose to censor an ADA member. Today, July 13, I have a second and third question: Why did you ignore my first one and who is your boss?

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Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Texas on Facebook

Let’s Have Some Fun!

[By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS]pruitt

Hello, sports fans. Have you missed me? It’s been about five days since I posted a comment that didn’t follow an article authored by someone else.

My last one was “Pruitt’s Platform – Introduction to an Adventure.” It’s unusual for me to go so long between posting stand-alone pieces, but after putting that title to my introduction, and compounding the challenge by promising to never push out bland stuff, I set my standard high. It took me a few days, but I finally found a deserving old target on a brand new venue that I think will hold your interest. BCBSTX and I have an intense history, so I assume they charged someone anonymous and shy to follow everything I write. I welcome you, whoever you are. Yea, you. The one hiding in the dark corner, justifiably afraid to utter a peep. Keep your pointed head down, friend, and try not to wet your nice pants.

BCBSTX, you should be disappointed to learn that I found your Facebook account. Even for a fat dinosaur, you are an especially thick and slow-moving easy target. I recommend you just surrender now to transparency and start the confessions and reparations before the lawsuits become huge and the lawyers profit more from your collapse than the Texan dental patients you’ve harmed. Let me remind you that the repeal of the McCarran-Ferguson Act is just around the corner, and we all know about the rumor (started by me) that there are attorneys across the nation just waiting to file class-action lawsuits against BCBS for unfair business practices, including restraint of trade for using the NPI number to drive satisfied patients from dental homes they preferred. Finally, BCBSTX will be subject to the same anti-trust laws as the doctors they fear, and I am here to make sure BCBSTX feels the pain. Look what happened to Dell Computer when that huge dinosaur was surrounded by Jeff Jarvis and Dell Hell. The game I’m playing with you is a more nimble, improved variation of Dell Hell, using fewer vulgar words.

You should know by now you are too fat and too slow to hide from me and the sports fans I bring. Nevertheless, I am always fair in telling my targets my goals before I go on to accomplish them. Here is what I am going to do to you, BCBSTX: I intend to pull your anonymous, unaccountable butt out into the wide open for everyone to see – especially the lawmakers you lobby and support with generous donations. Did you know that there is a rumor (also started by me) that some of those same lawmakers you consider friends are aware of most of what I write on the same day I post it? The transparency I bring will eventually trap and crush you, BCBSTX. Or, you can immediately come out and meet me for an open discussion about the inevitable reformation of dental insurance in Texas – putting humble, obedient bureaucrats with names under the direct control of dentists and patients. And of course, it is understood that in order to save Texas citizens millions of dollars in healthcare expense, there will be drastic downsizing of BCBSTX Dental, just like Delta Dental and ADA/IDM are experiencing right now. That means no more bonuses and no more frivolous pursuits like publishing, printing and mailing to Texas dentists those expensive self-serving brochures joyfully titled “NPI Times.” I suggest you get your resumes in order, BCBSTX employees. I’m very good at having my way with archaic business models. Others I have attacked, such as ADA/IDM and Delta Dental, are clearly failing. Coincidence? Perhaps you’d like to tell yourself that when I undermine your support every time you come up for air. Why not send out your sharpest PR specialists? Oh please, would you? Also, equip them with committee-approved talking points that I’ll hang around their necks for a long time.

When I discovered that BCBSTX had a Twitter account, I started asking anonymous employees of BCBSTX about their new NPI number requirement for processing dental claims – even for dentists who have no contractual relationship with the company. But rather than answer a dentist’s questions about their dental policy (incredibly stupid, BCBSTX), the leaders of the command and control company who can no longer command or control their own socks, responded by blocking me from following them. That was irresponsible, childish behavior from one of the largest and most powerful dental insurance companies in the state. Shouldn’t it be important for BCBSTX to respect dentists who must deal with their cumbersome rules?

At a time when managed care dental companies like BCBSTX are lobbying Congress hard to preserve their taxation subsidy, I think it is important for lawmakers to recognize that these huge stakeholders neglect the welfare of those they serve: the principles – dentists and their patients. We are your constituents who count, Congress. Not discount dentistry brokers whose products will not sell in the free market without mandates and taxpayer assistance – simply because they are lousy products.

If BCBSTX had not opened a Facebook account, I would not have opened one myself. I discovered my fat, defenseless opponent when I googlesearched “BCBSTX” the other day. On their first page was the link “What is the NPI number of BCBSTX? – Facebook.” It features a client’s naïve, insignificant question about the NPI number, and it opened the door for my informed, significant one which I copied below, as well as posted on Twitter.

http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=93487018652&topic=8926

By the way, I was disappointed to see that my comment “BCBS-TX Dental Insurance is Rude to everyone,” which I posted on the Medical Executive-Post over three months ago, was no longer on BCBSTX’s first page. It was their third hit for weeks. But since I hadn’t given the comment a bump lately, it has dropped down to the bottom of their second page. Can’t have that! If you don’t mind, please click once or more on the following link and stay there a few minutes. That way, it will push the blunt criticism back up onto BCBSTX’s first page and will once again warn potential clients of BCBSTX’s poor business ethics. If you’re going to be there anyway, why not go ahead and read the sucker? You could find it interesting. Lots of people do.

https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2009/03/27/bcbs-tx-dental-insurance-is-rude-to-everyone/

As I wrap up this comment, I’ll share with you with the question I left BCBSTX on Facebook almost 6 hours ago concerning their NPI policy. I don’t think Facebook was a good idea for BCBSTX leaders. Sit back and watch me get someone fired today.

Dear BCBSTX:

I would like to point out to readers more information about the NPI number which you are not likely to share. If you have BCBSTX dental insurance, and your dentist does not have an NPI number, BCBSTX will not process your dental claim and the premiums you will have paid to BCBSTX will become unearned profit for BCBSTX.

Is that true, BCBS-TX? Yes or no?

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