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Keeping the CORONA VIRUS Out of Dental Offices?

Opinion-Editorial

[By Darrell K. Pruitt DDS]

The ONLY way to protect dentists, staff, patients and their families from the risk of fatal COVID-19 infections is to keep the virus out of dental offices. (See graph from the New York Times).

***

Prediction: If quick and reliable testing is not available soon, within weeks after dental offices re-open for routine dental care – creating aerosols with high speed hand pieces, air/water syringes and ultrasonic scalers – dental offices will justifiably become known as reliable sources of COVID-19 infections, before being closed down again by the state.

Assessment: Your thoughts are appreciated.

***

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On the Domestic Oral Healthcare System

USA Perspectives

By http://www.MCOL.com

***

***

***

Conclusion

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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

***

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***

Meth Mouth

More About Meth Mouth and Teeth [MMT]

By Anonymous DEA Agent

Meth Mouth Teeth is severe tooth decay and tooth loss, as well as tooth fracture, acid erosion, and other oral problems, potentially symptomatic of extended use of the drug methamphetamine. The condition is thought to be caused by a combination of side effects of the drug and lifestyle factors, which may be present in long-term users.

However, the legitimacy of meth mouth as a unique condition has been questioned because of the similar effects of some other drugs on teeth. Images of diseased mouths are often used in anti-drug campaigns.

 ******

EDITOR’S NOTE: I do not know if this is a legitimate picture or not. But, I do suggest that we all “Just Say No to Drugs”. And; as a dental school drop out, I have an affinity for all pro-dentite colleagues.

Conclusion

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***

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***

Happy World Oral Health Day

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Happy World Oral Health Day

[By Staff Reporters]

Today is March 20th – World Oral Health Day (WOHD), a day in which dentists and organizations worldwide are promoting oral health.

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dental

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According to the FDI WOHD website, 90% of the world’s population will suffer from oral diseases in their lifetime, and many of them can be avoided with increased governmental, health association and society support and funding for prevention, detection and treatment programs.

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The Benefits of Dentistry Unhurried

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And Medicine, too?

[By Kellus Pruitt DDS]

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

Dental Handiwork

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

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

Melinda Morales for the Visalia Times-Delta

[Visalia, California – October 16, 2014]

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

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

***

Insightful or clueless dentist?

***

Enjoy the Teeth

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

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

Kelly Soderlund

[ADA News, October 13, 2014]

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

Good reporting, ADA News

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

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

Eric T. Schneiderman

[Office of Current NY State Attorney General]

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

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

Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA

[Medical Executive-Post, January 16, 2009]

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

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

***

slow down

***

CIGNA Speaks

Cigna spokeswoman Karen Eldred tells ADA News,

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

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

http://texas.doctoroogle.com/

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

More:

Assessment

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

Hurried Care?

Conclusion

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On Practice-Based Research Networks

In Dentistry – if only it were that easy

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

I like the concept of a Practice-Based Research Network for teasing out latent miracles from dentalcare data, but I’m afraid any hope of networking success is limited by insurmountable cost and safety concerns of EDRs that few in the dental industry are yet willing to recognize.

Dr. Schleyer 

Titus Schleyer, DMD, PhD, Associate Professor and Director, Center for Dental Informatics, University of Pittsburgh published “The feasibility of an electronic dental practice-based research network” a few days ago.

“The long-term goal of our research is to use data from EDRs to improve patient care and its outcomes. The objective of this project is to develop a generalizable method for extracting EDR data for practice-based clinical research, using Dentrix as the test system.

In our first specific aim, we will determine the utilization of clinical data elements useful for research by practitioners by mining the electronic dental records of 100 Dentrix users and generating summary statistics about patient documentation patterns by data field.

The second specific aim will develop a technical Infrastructure for extracting data from Dentrix and integrating them with manually collected research data. The main outcome of this project will be the electronic Dental Practice-Based Research Network (ePBRN), a generalizable method for extracting clinical data from EDRs and reusing them for practice-based research. This project is a first step in making the increasing amount of electronic clinical data available for improving research, clinical care and patient outcomes.”

-Abstract: September 30, 2011

http://halley.exp.sis.pitt.edu/comet/presentColloquium.do?col_id=2348

I agree with Dr. Schleyer. However, until dentists perceive value in EDRs instead of liabilities, the dreams that he and I share about real-time, evidence-based research on an internet platform will be nothing more than just a cool-sounding fantasy of a handful of geeky dentists hoping to get a better peek at an obscure healthcare niche.

On Transparency 

Transparency in dentistry, rather than NPI numbers, has a better chance of revealing cost-effective solutions for painful and even life-threatening health problems. In addition, nothing is holding down the cost of HIPAA compliance, and data breaches from healthcare facilities – including dental offices – are only becoming more common.

Assessment 

Sidestep liability. De-identify now. If a dentist’s EDR system is breached, yet it contains no Protected Health Information [PHI], who cares?

Conclusion

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USN&WR – Meet the ADA President

Dr. Raymond Gist

By Kellus Pruitt DDS

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

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

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

 

Dear US News and World Report:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s what I think:

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

Assessment 

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

Conclusion

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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

Conclusion

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The Absurdity of “Meaningful Use” Requirements in Dentistry

Let’s End the Silence

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

Hey, Doc. How can your silence possibly serve your patients’ best interests?

For my colleagues in the audience who have quietly examined the critical and timely issues I’ve repeatedly offered for discussion – adults with post-graduate degrees who might have briefly considered publicly responding  to what I write, but who still cannot take ownership of an opinion – what on Earth is holding you back? Whatever it is, I say there are only lame, self-serving excuses for dentists to continue to betray patients’ trust. So how does that make you feel, Doc? A little angry maybe? Indignant? Let’s work on that professional nerve a little more. Maybe I’ll get a rise out of you yet.

Where Have You Been? 

As a healthcare provider whose trusting patients depend on you to protect their interests from stakeholders who cannot be held accountable – where have you been? Do you really believe dentists’ stoicism upholds and promotes the ideals of the healing profession? What about the Hippocratic Oath? How?

Or, is your shyness perhaps the manifestation of a character weakness revealing little confidence in your own personal ethics? You can’t blame me if that pisses you off. As long as you are silent, it’s impossible for me to tell a thing about you. So please, feel free to describe how my observations make you feel. You could easily change my opinion by merely speaking up to defend your silence … which promises to be an interesting argument.

ADA Members 

Or, maybe, as an ADA member, or more so a vetted official, professional silliness isn’t your choice at all. Perhaps you are torn between supporting common sense and honesty in your community and a professional dedication to the ADA’s committee-approved slogan “Speaking with one voice.” What looks to me like a cheap PR hack’s piece of art – purchased by either a clueless or nasty-cynical ADA official – is intended to not only keep members in their place as policy, but to also give state and national politicians the impression that all dentists unquestioningly unite behind any and all ADA ideas – sight unseen. (Public discussion of policy with membership is never permitted, even though it’s just dentistry). Elsewhere in the world, that would be called tyranny. It’s also easy to see that “one voice” is a generous exaggeration of our current dental leaders’ influence in Washington.

Stage 2 Meaningful Use

If anonymous leaders who secretly manage a silent profession insulated from the community were the least bit effective at protecting dental patients’ welfare, dentists who actually provide dentistry for the poor wouldn’t be faced with absurd and overwhelming Stage 2 Meaningful Use documentation requirements that will be enforced by CMS in 2012:

  • Record Smoking Status for Patients 13 Years Old or Older
  • Generate Lists of Patients by Specific Condition
  • Check Insurance Eligibility Electronically from Public and Private Payers
  • Submit Claims Electronically to Public and Private Payers
  • Provide Patients with Timely Electronic Access to their Patient Information
  • Computerized provider order entry (CPOE)
  • eRX
  • Record Demographics
  • Record and Chart Vital Sign
  • Patient Reminder
  • Electronic Copies
  • Clinical Summaries
  • Advising Smokers to Quit

Rising Above Politics

As healthcare professionals, our patients depend on us to rise above political correctness and petty, cheap slogans. Indeed, how good is it for healthcare when doctors evade unpopular issues? Can anyone in the audience explain how our patients are better served by PR hacks than dialogue? Anyone?

Assessment

Face it. The absurdity of Meaningful Use [MU] requirements in dentistry proves that our non-responsive leadership is incapable of protecting our dental patients. From now on, only you and I can do that on our own as individuals. But to make a difference, you must be heard.

Conclusion

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Challenging a Naive eDR Advocate

An Open Letter to Dr. Margaret Scarlett

By D. Kellus Pruitt; DDS

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

Dear Dr. Margaret Scarlett

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

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

Courageous 

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

Collegial

Let’s keep it collegial but challenging.

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

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

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

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

Assessment 

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

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

Why Does the ADA Promote eDRs?

By Darrell K. Pruitt DDS

Not so Fast!

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

Unlucky dentist loses everything …

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

Worst Way to Start Off the Year

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

Assessment

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

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

“Image is everything” ADA/IDM slogan

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

Assessment

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

Conclusion

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Dental Therapists [Emerging New Providers?]

Coming to a State Near You

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

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

A Balanced Article

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

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

In My Opinion

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

Assessment

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

Conclusion

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“The ADA Practical Guide to HIPAA Compliance”

Book Review – Dark, Dark Reading

By Darrell K. Pruitt DDS

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

On Being Leary 

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

Unsupported Claims

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

Disaster Recovery 

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

ADA Slogan

“Dentistry is healthcare that works”.

Beware

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

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

Still Not a Fan

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

In the Minority 

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

Join Our Mailing List 

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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Dental Compensation Different than Docs

On Medical Professional Salaries

Staff Reporters

www.BusinessofMedicalPractice.com

A 2003 Survey of Dental Practices reported net income from dentistry-related sources.

Dentists Differ from Doctors

Dentists differ from physicians in that 90% are in private practice. In 2002, the average practitioner’s net income was $174,350. The average dental specialist’s net was $291,250. These figures represent a 0.7% and a 5.8% increase over 2001, respectively.

Assessment

Net income rose steadily since 1986, when general dentists made an average of $69,920 and specialists an average of $97,920. But, by 2010, according to PayScale.com, the average general dentist earned $98,276 – $157,437; a decreasing trend allocated as follows.

Compensation Chart 

Salary  $92,689 – $147,682
Bonus  $1,996 – $19,727
Profit Sharing  $1,038 – $27,514
Commissions  $480.74 – $32,500

Conclusion

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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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Conclusion

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Some Dental Consultants Say the Most Incredible Things

Are Dentists like … Rodney Dangerfield? 

By Darrell Kellus Pruitt; DDS

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

Gary Kadi DDS, DentistryiQ

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

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

eDR Rationalization?

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

Working Both Sides of the Consulting Fence

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

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

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

eDR Lobbying 

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

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

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

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

Is HIT – Or any IT – Really Secure? 

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

Cost Savings

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

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

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

The PennWell Article

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

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Assessment

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

Conclusion

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The DDS / Doctor [Salesman] will See [Up-Sell] you Now

Blurring the Line between Medical Professionalism … and Mercantilism

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

[Publisher-in-Chief]

Concerns and complaints about pushy dentists are apparently becoming more numerous among consumers, as elective cosmetic treatments and marginally effective tests and modalities are increasingly available from the same providers that patients formerly turned to for unbiased dental advice and oral healthcare. All for a price!

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37198272/ns/health-oral_health

So, enter the cosmetic [rank-and-file] dentists and the elective renaissance of the profession – at least economically. An entire industry has even sprung up teaching dentists how to sell various products, and up-sell related services and procedures.

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=dentists&iid=166771″ src=”0163/1731b859-b744-4a0e-b055-a9e985ad8673.jpg?adImageId=12959860&imageId=166771″ width=”372″ height=”459″ /]

Root-Cause [pun intended]  

Why is this happening? Economics of course! Dental profession success in eradicating cavities, caries and other common mouth disorders – which used to comprise 80% of dental procedures and income – is now a two-edge sword working against their financial self interests … damn!

In fact, I recall about three decades ago when the situation first became acute, as more than a few of our nation’s dental schools closed for lack of interest in matriculation. Right here in Atlanta, the prestigious Emory University School of Dentistry closed its doors while I myself was a patient there; and employed as a surgical resident at a nearby acute care hospital. Contemporaneous cocktail party talk and medical gossip centered on the “death of dentistry” as I exhaled a sigh of relief at my career choice.

Going forward, years later, far too many managed care contracts reimbursed so poorly that they became a loss-leader [access portal to a patient population] for dental practitioners. In other worlds, lose money or break-even on the covered services contract, but profit handsomely by offering [pushing] non-covered services to cohort contract members … and their sphere of influence.

One Word from Mrs. Robinson – Plastics

Plastic surgeons, of course, are still the doctors most commonly associated with non-covered and purely cosmetic and elective treatments such as Botox injections, facelifts and tummy tucks. But, similar elective procedures — which generally aren’t covered by insurance — are being offered by a wide variety of medical specialists.

For example, many dermatologists, who treat patients for skin cancer and other diseases, also promote treatments to smooth wrinkles, lighten age spots and remove hair. Otolarnygologists, who care for patients with conditions of the ear, nose and throat, commonly perform nose jobs, brow lifts and eyelid surgery. And, podiatrists, who are often experts at foot reconstructive, diabetic and ankle surgery, sell shoes, shoe-inserts, laser beam treatments for fungus toenails and various cosmetic and prosthetic devices for deformed toenails and crooked digits.

Medicare Limits – Privates Don’t

At least Medicare requires an ABN [advanced beneficiary notice] for non-covered medical services, and limits non-participating doctors to 115% of the Medicare fee schedule for all providers. Increasingly, some private health plans are doing and proposing, same.  

Practice Management Guru

Now, I have no issue with efficient medical practice management operations, for any specialty. In this era of managed care and health 2.0, governmental intervention is onerous, competition is fierce and patient empowerment is reversing the aging command-control medical establishment. Nor, do I have a problem with offering the entire range of therapeutic and/or elective options to any patient. This is a “good – better – best” elective marketing concept.

In fact, the third edition of our best-selling book, the Business of Medical Practice [Transformational Health 2.0 Skills for Doctors] will soon be released this autumn www.BusinessofMedicalPractice.com. In it, we seek to educate doctors about modern business, management and economics practices; as well as the emerging participatory health 2.0 philosophy and information technology skills. Our goal is enhancing the survival potential of the independent practicing medical professional.

But, the ever expanding menu of treatment options – promoted by a trusted medical professional – should include procedural risks and complications, period of recovery and alternatives, including benign neglect [watchful waiting], marginal benefit and marginal utility, as well as price transparency.

Call this new-wave litany, a type of “informed patient business consent”.

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=doctor+money&iid=182012″ src=”0178/66353b45-9776-48b9-9bdd-2993a48f32bf.jpg?adImageId=12959922&imageId=182012″ width=”372″ height=”459″ /]

Aphorisms of the Past

Over the years, we have heard phrases like the following from all sorts of independent specialists. I know I have, and so have you. Many are the butt of “insider” jokes:

MD: I’m sure that appendix is hot – I have a car payment to make

DPM: Even the normal foot can be surgically improved

DO: Now, I can bill like a real MD

DDS: We can straighten out – the straightest teeth

DC: I’ll crack your back in only forty sessions … and I finance

But, these are aphorisms of the last-generation. Today we are responsible adults. Let’s grow up and become medical professionals and “DOCTORS” again … not healthcare merchants, sales sharks or equipment shills that offer strategic competitive advantages; but not real patient benefits.  

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Assessment

The old practice management business adage of yesteryear – to work longer hours, see more patients quicker, up-sell marginally effective procedures, or do more treatments in order to realize more income – will not necessarily hold true in the modern era.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/17/AR2010051703034.html

According to colleague, financial advisor and ME-P thought leader Brian J. Knabe MD – a primary care physician and current www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com matriculant – and textbook chapter 27 co-author on physician compensation and salary:

In the environment of Healthcare 2.0, those doctors who embrace efficiency, innovation and appropriate business models will be better positioned to optimize their incomes. 

http://businessofmedicalpractice.com/chapter-27-salary-compensation-2/

Conclusion

Comments from our dental – and other – physician readers are requested. And, so are your general or specific thoughts on this ME-P. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe. It is fast, free and secure.

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Understanding the Medical Career Choice!

Regrets and Recriminations – or Joy and Bliss?

By Eugene Schmuckler PhD, MBA

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By Dr. David E. Marcinko MBA

www.MedicalBusinessAdvisors.com

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Jimmy’s mother called out to him at seven in the morning, “Jimmy, get up. It’s time for school.” There was no answer. She called again, this time more loudly, “Jimmy, get up! It’s time for school!” Once more there was no more answer. Exasperated, she went to his room and shook him saying, “Jimmy, it’s time to get ready for school.”

He answered, “Mother, I’m not going to school. There are fifteen hundred kids at that school and every one of them hates me. I’m not going to school.”

“Get to school!” she replied sharply.

“But, Mother, all the teachers hate me, too. I saw three of them talking the other day and one of them was pointing his finger at me. I know they all hate me so I’m not going to school,” Jimmy answered.

“Get to school!” his mother demanded again.

“But mother, I don’t understand it. Why would you want to put me through all of that torture and suffering?” he protested.

“Jimmy, for two good reasons,” she fired back. “First, you’re forty-two years old. Secondly, you’re the principal.”

Similar Physician Sentiments

Many of us have had conversations with medical colleagues at which time sentiments of those expressed by Jimmy have been voiced. The career choice that was made many years ago is now, for some reason, no longer as exciting, interesting and enjoyable, as it was when we first began in the field. The career that was undertaken with great anticipation is now something to dread.

The reason for this is occurrence is not that difficult to understand. Two of the most important decisions individuals are asked to make are ones for which the least amount of training is offered: choice of spouse and choice of career. How many college students receive a degree in the field they identified when they first enrolled at the college or university? In fact, how many entering freshmen list their choice of major as undecided? It is only during the sophomore year when a major must be declared is the choice actually made. So, career choices made at the age of 19 might be due to having taken a course that was interesting or easy, appeared to have many entry level jobs, did not require additional educational or professional training requirements, or was a form of the “family business.” Now as an adult, the individual is functioning in a career field that was selected for him or her by an eighteen-year-old.

Judging Career Success

How do we judge career success? A career represents more than just the job or sequence of jobs we hold in a lifetime. The typical standard for a successful career is by judging how high the individual goes in the organization, how much money is earned, or one’s standing attained in the medical profession.

Yet, career success actually needs to be judged on several dimensions. Career adaptability refers to the willingness and capacity to change occupations and/or the work setting to maintain a standard of career progress.  Many of you did not anticipate the managed care, Health 2.0, or political changes in your chosen medical profession, or specialty, when you began your training.

A second factor is career attitudes. These are your own attitudes about the work itself, our place of work, your level of achievement, and the relationship between work and other parts of your life.

Medical Career Identity

Career identity is that part of your life related to occupational and organizational activities. This is the unique way in which we believe that we fit into the world. Our career is only one part of our being. We play many roles in life each of which combine to make up or totality. At any point in time one role may be more important than another [life saving physicians versus retail sales clerk]. The importance of the roles will generally change over time. Thus at some point you may choose to identify more with your career, and at other times, with your family.

inheritance

Career Performance

A final factor is career performance, a function of both the level of objective career success and the level of psychological success.  How much you earn and your reputation factor into, and reflect, objective career success. To be recognized as a “leader” in a medical field and asked to submit chapters for inclusion in text-books, medical journals or new-wave blogs such as this may be a more important indicator of career success than money.

Psychological success is the second measure of career performance. It is achieved when your self-esteem, the value you place on yourself, increases. As you can see, there is a direct relationship between psychological success and objective success. It may increase as you advance in pay and status at work or decrease with job disappointment and failure. Self-esteem may also increase as one begins to sense personal worth in other ways such as family involvement or developing confidence and competence in a particular field, such as consistently shooting par on the golf course. At that point, objective career success may be secondary in your life. This is why many people choose to become active in their church or in politics. Even though one may have slowed down on the job, or in their professional career they can be extremely content with their life.

Case Model Scenario

Consider the following situation.

You are traveling on business. Although you are on a direct flight, you have a one-hour layover before the second leg of the flight and your final destination. Leaving the plane, after having placed the “occupied” card on your seat you walk down the concourse. On the way, you encounter a friend that you knew in high school. The two of you sit to have a cup of coffee and then you realize that your departure time is rapidly approaching. In fact, you will be cutting it quite close. Running down the concourse you return to the gate only to find that the door has been closed, the jetway is being retracted and the plane is being backed away from the gate. You stare out the window watching the plane go to the end of the runway and then begin its takeoff. Something goes horrible wrong and the plane crashes on takeoff, bursting into flames. It is apparent that there will be no survivors.

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Assessment

To the world you are on that plane (remember the occupied card). Traveling on business your generous insurance policy will be activated. In anticipation of being in a location where they may not have ATM machines you have a good deal of cash, sufficient for at least a month.

Conclusion

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McNally, D. Even Eagles Need A Push, New York, NY: Delacorte Press, 1991.

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Need a New Career in Dentistry – Become a Consultant

Or – Maybe Just a Hobby

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS

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

Meet Jill Coon, Inc

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

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

My Translation 

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

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

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

Bonus Round 

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

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

Assessment 

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

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

Conclusion

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

Industry Indignation Index: 47

How about it – HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, JD?

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A New Survey on Dental Insurance

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

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS

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

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

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

Bloody Sunday

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

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

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

Assessment 

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

Conclusion

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Electronic Medical Records and Dentistry

A Note to Diane Rehm

[By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS]

Dear Diane Rehm,

I always enjoy your show.

You add value to my drive to work.

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

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

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

Small and Mid Sized Practices

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

Marginal Benefits May Not Exceed Marginal Costs 

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

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

Assessment 

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

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

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Sales of Dental Equipment and eDRs Down

Peterson Dental Supply Reveals a Decline

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS

Yesterday, Kevin Henry posted “Dental news of the day for Thursday, Feb. 18” on the DentistryiQ Blog.

The source for the day’s dental news was a sales report provided by Patterson Dental Supply.

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

Soft Sales

“Sales of dental equipment and software declined 10% from the year-earlier level, which was consistent with Patterson’s forecast for this period.”

If one remembers the economy at the last of 2008, it is not difficult to understand why Patterson’s analysts forecast that sales of dental equipment would drop. But, how did they know that sales of Patterson EagleSoft, their clinical and practice management software would also fall by 10%? I find it interesting that their accurate prediction was made shortly after Patterson announced the release of EagleSoft Version 15.00 on October 10, 2008. That must have been discouraging to EagleSoft employees.

When is the last time you’ve heard of a company roll-out of a new version of software – expecting it to be even less successful the previous version? That’s interesting.

Health Policy and Politics 

What makes Patterson’s valiant prediction of a decline in software sales even more remarkable is that a year ago, President-elect Barack Obama was giddy enthusiastic for digital health records, which includes Patterson’s EagleSoft. Not to say I told you so [maybe-a-little], but Patterson’s analysts obviously recognized what I did long before: Digital dental records are losing popularity among dentists. What’s more, none of my patients have ever said that they wish I had digital dental records. Dental patients simply do not desire them.

As a matter of fact, some have expressed relief that my paper records are more secure than anyone’s digital records. They also like not having to sign HIPAA forms – a meaningless waste of trees and appointment time.

Insightful or clueless dentist?

Assessment 

A year after Patterson privately admitted doubt about paperless dental practices, the slow-moving ADA House of Delegates met in Hawaii in October ‘09 and officially encouraged ADA members to adopt eDRs. Why doesn’t the American Dental Association know at least as much about dentistry as Patterson Dental?

This is an intriguing time in dental history. I can’t wait until the ADA opens up about their mistakes in dental informatics. One of these days we’ll all have a good laugh about their lame, expensive shenanigans.

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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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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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Stuff that Still Floats to the Top on the ME-P

Interesting Articles of Yore

By Darrell K. Pruitt: DDS

I’ve posted hundreds of articles on the Medical Executive-Post over the last year, and it always surprises me when something I long ago forgot rises to the top of their popularity scale.

The Run-Down

Earlier today, a comment I posted on March 30 titled “Usual and Customary UnitedHealthcare” was the most popular article out of thousands (?).

https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2009/03/30/usual-and-customary-unitedhealthcare/

Why the sudden interest in UnitedHealth? Where is it coming from? 

At the same time, an article I posted on June 17 titled, “GM Bankruptcy Hits Delta Dental Hard,” had just showed up at 11th of the top dozen most popular articles. Why?  

https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2009/06/17/gm-bankruptcy-hits-delta-dental-hard/

Now, the UnitedHealthcare has dropped off the top dozen, and GM Bankruptcy has moved up to number 6.

Assessment 

Do you find that interesting? What do you think happened in the dental insurance market that has ME-P juggling my articles?

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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.

Conclusion

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Top Ten Signs the ADA is Hunkering Down

About the American Dental Association

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS

Today, I especially cherish my right as a dues-paying member of the ADA – and as an American – to share my blunt, un-requested opinion as if you were a colleague, a patient or disinterested lawmaker.

For by early 2011, such liberty could warrant official sanction by the yet to be revealed national enforcer of the 2010 ADA Code of Conduct … if by then they find someone in the ADA capable of publicly announcing my crimes with a straight face, just before I receive a good talking-to about professionalism. If the future Ethics Enforcer would like me to help burnish his or her brand new gunslinger reputation quickly and deeply, I will gladly link any ADA official’s name to mine, and we’ll be companions for as long as I feel our union helps bring even more transparency to my profession. I’ve been an SEO assist for several ADA leaders for a couple of years already. Just ask ADA President Dr. Ron Tankersley – or – just Google his name.

Getting Spanked? 

I’m not too worried about getting spanked. What can the ADA possibly do to me? Besides, officially, nobody will utter as much as a peep because of the transparency thing. Unofficially, ADA officials will privately send more attaboys because they trust me. They know by now that I never betray friends. I’m selectively transparent – which is my right but not yours, non-profit ADA. I think we both know, Dr. Tankersley, that I’m not the only one who thinks a minority of ADA leaders are playing naïve, childish and costly games.

Then again, it could just be my persistent, egocentric stage of emotional development that causes me to imagine that Resolution 82 is pointed directly at the nose of D. Kellus Pruitt; DDS.

“Patient rights, ethics considered” was posted on Nov 16 on the ADA News Online, and was written by Jennifer Garvin 

http://www.ada.org/prof/resources/pubs/adanews/adanewsarticle.asp?articleid=3843

Garvin writes, “Res. 82 asks that the following principles be considered for an ADA member Code of Conduct:”

1. Members will maintain high standards of integrity and conduct their dealings as members of the Association in a professional manner.

2. Members will treat other members and Association officers, trustees and staff with courtesy and respect, and shall refrain from conduct that is unreasonably disruptive or is harassing.

3. Members will respect the decisions and polices of the Association and will not engage in conduct that is disruptive to Association staff or causes the Association to expend an unreasonable amount of time or effort to address.

4. Members are encouraged to use proper Association channels of communication to address differences.

5. Members will comply with all applicable laws and regulations, including but not limited to antitrust laws and regulations.

6. Members will respect and protect the intellectual property rights of the Association, including any trademarks, logos and copyrights.

7. Members will not use Association membership lists for personal solicitation purposes.

8. Members will not use all or part of Association lists, including membership directory, online member listings, conference attendees and education course participants for selling, prospecting or creating a directory or database.

9. Members will treat all information furnished by the Association as confidential and will not reproduce materials without the Association’s written approval.

10. Members will avoid conflicts of interest.

Assessment

Garvin concludes: “The resolution also states that a proposed member code of conduct, together with proposed sanction and enforcement procedures, be presented for consideration by the 2010 House of Delegates.”  It is probably earthly unprofessional to make light of authoritarian bluster, but this really reminds me of the John Landis film “Animal House” when Dean Wormer put John Belushi and other ΔΤΧ Fraternity misfits on double secret probation. ADA Trustees shouldn’t take themselves so seriously. It looks silly to those watching. Or then again, keep it up. After all, it looks silly to those watching.

Toga Party! Dentures 2 for 1! Just ask for Dr. Ron.

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Conclusion

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Our Recent Experience with CFP® Mark Utility

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Certification Falling from Grace – Deserved or Not?

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

[Publisher-in-Chief] dem21 

The Premise

In the summer [2008], we sent a random email blast to the first 200 Certified Financial Planners® on our list-serve. These were folks who had previously contacted us, and/or purchased our textbooks, handbooks, tools and/or dictionaries that assist accountants, financial advisors, attorneys, medical management consultants and all those working to assist physicians and medical professionals on business and economics matters.

The “Straw-Poll” Query

Our email blast asked the simple question:

“Did you ever voluntarily resign your license to use the CFP® mark?”

First Round Results

We received four positive responses [2%]. We then followed up to learn that 2 of the 4 were CPAs, one was a CFA and another was an MBA. Now, what do these results signify – probably nothing – or maybe an emerging trend?

Repeat

So, last summer [2009], after the continuing Wall Street collapse, and the Somnath Basu PhD article on “CFP Trust” in Financial Advisor magazine and this blog, we sent out a follow-up email to the exact same 200 Certified Financial Planners® as before; but carved-out and replaced the 4 CFPs who had resigned the mark, with 4 others.

Link: I Jealously “Shake my Fist” at Somnath Basu PhD

This time we asked the question:

“Have you recently considered allowing your CFP mark to lapse; or resigning it?”

Second Round Results

This time we received exactly eight positive replies [4%] or double the number from the first round. One CFP® said:

“I am rethinking my entire business and marketing philosophy. This includes separation from any taint left over from recent industry scandals – and yes – even including my CFP® mark”

 CMP logo

http://www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

Assessment

This little experiment was not statistically significant by any means. And, again it probably is indicative of nothing. Yet, these types of questions must be boldly asked today; even if they were not even timidly asked yesterday.

Nevertheless, cited plausible reasons for the increased negative CFP® mark response may be:

 

  • CFP BoS lacks modernity and membership alliance. 
  • SEC mismanagement.
  • NASD/FINRA impotence.
  • Wall Street greed.
  • Lack of true fiduciary accountability.
  • Client anger and public distrust.
  • Advisor frustration at lost income.
  • College for Financial Planning and American College credibility.  
  • ME-P operations in the medical niche advisory space.
  • CFP® mark and related industry certification taint.
  • Alternative degrees and available designations.
  • Rise of RIAs and the fiduciary CMPmark for healthcare specificity.
  • Resigning [doing] and considering [thinking] are not equivalent;
  • etc, etc. 

It is interesting to note that no CFP® resigned their mark who did not hold either another graduate degree [MBA, MSFS, MA, MS, PhD], or more rigorous industry [CFA and CPA] certification.

Assessment 

So, is CFP mark allegiance just a union-like mentality of “united we stand – divided we fall”, by those with little to no gravitation pull of their own – or something else; ie., industry group think? You decide; and do tell us what you think.

Note: I am the founder of the CMP online education and certification program for financial advisors and consultants interested in the health economics, finance and medical practice management space, and a former [resigned] certified financial planner www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org 

Update 2013:

Conclusion

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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.

Channel Surfing the ME-P

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Conclusion

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Ask an Advisor about “Meaningful-Use”

Do dentists qualify for “meaningful use” incentives under ARRA?

By Ann Miller; RN, MHA

[Executive Director]

Chairman's Seat

A simple and direct query asked by an ME-P subscriber.

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Conclusion

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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?

Conclusion

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INSURANCE: Risk Management and Insurance Strategies for Physicians and Advisors

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Guest ME-P Bloggers Welcome

Join Us!

By Ann Miller; RN, MHA

[Executive Director]Lighthouse

Perhaps you have a great idea for a short article to promote the integration of personal financial planning and medical practice management, including expert posts, humorous stories or interesting news; but don’t want to maintain a blog? We have more than 50 topic channels to consider.

 

Contact me at MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com and be a guest blogger! 

Conclusion

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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.

Conclusion

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Off-Road Touring with Dr. Marcinko [Part V]

About the Ship USNS COMFORT
By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™
[Publisher-in-Chief]
Dateline: August 4, 2009USNS Comfort Canton, Maryland

The official Navy ship USNS COMFORT [“Medical Treatment Facility”] has the primary mission to provide a mobile, flexible and rapidly responsive capability for acute medical and surgical care in support of amphibious task forces. These forces include the Marine Corps, Army and Air Force elements, forward deployed Navy elements of the fleet, and activities located in areas where hostilities may be imminent. Operations are governed by the principles of the “Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Wounded, Sick, and Shipwrecked Members of the Armed Forces at Sea”, as of August 12, 1949.

Mission

As a secondary mission of the ship COMFORT is providing a full hospital service asset for use by other government agencies involved in the support of relief and humanitarian operations worldwide. These mission statements are accountable to both the Reduced Operating Status (ROS) and Full Operating Status (FOS) military personnel staffed at National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda Maryland until the ship is activated. However, the ROS personnel’s immediate and number one priority is to fully activate the ship to a FOS Echelon III Medical Treatment Facility within a prescribed 5-day time frame.

Functions

In meeting these missions, the ROS personnel perform the following functions:

  • Serve as the nucleus of the critical core required to execute activations;
  • Develop, test, and maintain systems and procedures to support activation process;
  • Orient and train FOS augmenting staff;
  • Monitor/assess the medical treatment facility’s overall ability to fully activate/perform mission.

Leaders

The ship is commanded by CAPT James J. Ware DDS, with Executive Officer Captain Larnerd, and Master Chief Lohner. The home base is Baltimore, Maryland.  Upon arrival at the dock, the ME-P and I planned to meet onboard with Master David Lieberman. But, an interview was cancelled due to a last minute scheduling conflict. However, we were placed in the competent hands of our civilian tour guide, Shaun B. of Virginia. He noted 70 civilian and 700 military personnel.US Comfort

Assessment

Shaun B, informed me that despite advanced age, my application for a four month tour would be gladly reviewed. And, it is under serious future consideration as my nurse sister is a recent Bronze Star Award winner from a Combat Army Surgical Hospital [CASH] unit stationed in Iraq. I also did my trauma surgery training in Martin Army Hospital, at Fort Benning Georgia, back-in-the-day.

About Off Road with Dr. Marcinko

These sporadic off-road segments will continue through-out my 2009 summer promotional tour. Attendance at several formal and informal engagements increased since the early summer. The previously noted sales spike for our texts, handbooks and dictionaries www.HealthDictionarySeries.com continued and interest in our online www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com program and premier quarterly guide: Healthcare Organizations [Journal of Financial Management Strategies] www.HealthcareFinancials.com remained high.

Part IV: https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/off-road-touring-with-dr-marcinko-part-iv/

Conclusion

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Healthcare Organizations

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.

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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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Journal of the American Dental Association [Letter to the Editor]

ADA Image Tarnished?

[By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDSpruitt]

Dear Editor,  

This is a sincere letter which I am sure you will agree should be published in the October 2009 edition of the JADA. Today is July 19, 2009. I am allowing for the six weeks minimum time it requires for letters to appear in print following their selection for publication. It will be posted on the Internet immediately. In spite of this, I trust you will eventually agree to publish it in spite of your archaic rules. Otherwise, by November, history could show that the editor of the JADA arguably denied representation of dental patients’ interests at a most critical time in the history of the profession. That would be regrettable for your own professional reputation as well as for the JADA’s. As an ADA member, if my concerns are ignored, I will hold you publicly accountable for an explanation for a long time.

Public Laundry

From now on, we will agree to wash our laundry in public because otherwise it doesn’t always come clean. You can call the pressure I bring unprofessional if you want, but following the ADA News’ public exhibition of their shoddy ethics this week, it would be foolish to use my methods as an excuse to deny my access to membership. As I am certain you are aware, there were three revisions of “ADA/idm to phase out service” on ADA News Online (7/10, 7/13 and 7/16). I not only welcome a wide-open public discussion about ethics in journalism with representatives of the JADA, but I encourage it. We both know that the ADA needs clean laundry now more than ever before in its history.

ADA Business Enterprises, Inc.

For members who haven’t heard, the 2 ½ year old joint venture of our ADA Business Enterprises, Inc. (ADABEI) with Intelligent Dental Marketing – a Utah-based private business – fell apart in late spring of this year. Months later, our ADA leaders are still less than transparent with membership about what went wrong. I’ve been in business long enough to know that if mistakes by employees are not revealed and discussed, they are bound to happen again and again. And, it’s not like the leaders of the ADA were not warned. They just didn’t take heed. By late 2007, many knowledgeable people involved in the dental industry easily recognized the faults in the partnership between our non-profit professional organization and a for-profit Utah advertising company. In hindsight, anyone can see that ADA/IDM’s slogan, “Image is everything,” clearly betrays an attitude inconsistent with both the mission of the ADA and the Hippocratic Oath. Nevertheless, even the spirit of the slogan was regretfully adopted by the leaders of the ADA’s Business Enterprises, Inc. Now it is the image of the entire ADA that is suffering the damage.

ADABEI

I personally began questioning the accountability of the tricky ADA/IDM business model over two years ago when the profits from ADABEI had officials excited about avoiding the need to raise membership dues last year. Not unexpectedly, in the atmosphere of euphoria, nobody in Chicago wanted to acknowledge the concerns of a handful of alert members. We were cast aside as troublemakers. So how critical is the risk? With massive, unprecedented health care legislation imminent, this is the worst time imaginable for our stoic, image-conscious officers to lead us to nation-wide embarrassment.

Following the Money

The surrender to such temptations for leaders of non-profit organizations is not unprecedented. Do you know why the dues for the American Association of Retired People (AARP) have been kept so low? Not unlike the ADA, the non-profit AARP reaps profits from insurance policies and other products that its leaders sell to membership – even using misleading ads in AARP dues-supported publications. However, unlike dues money, vendor “kickbacks” don’t depend on accountability to members. A few years ago, the profits derived from agreements with vendors predictably became the lifeblood for AARP’s self-perpetuating bureaucracy – eventually influencing their lobbying efforts. Since non-profits like the AARP and the ADA are traditionally respected by lawmakers who like huge campaign donations, a non-profit entity’s lobbyists can be tempted to quietly represent vendors’ interests at members’ expense. Sometimes they get caught.

Lost Confidence

Almost a year ago, the AARP lost valuable member confidence when the organization was forced to suspend sales of “limited benefit” health plans backed by UnitedHealth Group (of Ingenix fame). Sen. Chuck Grassley said the plans which leave policyholders vulnerable to tens of thousands of dollars in costs were sold by the AARP to naïve and trusting members using misleading marketing tricks – not unlike those used in the ADA’s promotion of ADA/IDM. Sen. Grassley sent a detailed letter to CEO Bill Novelli demanding answers to questions about health insurance plans promoted to over a million dues-paying AARP members. Grassley told USA Today reporter Julie Appleby that “Insurance is supposed to limit your exposure to the potentially high cost of a serious illness and these plans do the opposite.” (Nov 7 2008).

http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2008-11-07-aarp-insurance_N.htm

Is AARP-level accountability as good as it gets?

I say no. Attention ADA members – It is my opinion that our leaders are losing the control of our professional organization. The recent failure of ADA/IDM isn’t the first glaring sign of trouble in Headquarters. Over a year ago, the executive director, Dr. James Bramson, was suddenly fired with no explanation. In fact, then President Dr. Mark Feldman commanded that the reasons for the firing will not be disclosed. Obediently, ADA leaders have so far maintained firm control of the top secret information which if released could somehow endanger dental patients (?). Because Bramson’s severance pay came from my dues and not out of Dr. Feldman’s pocket, I think I deserve to know more details. Otherwise, this mistake could happen again and again.

The ADA/IDM disaster is also not the only ADABEI embarrassment I see on the horizon. It is my opinion that CareCredit is also showing signs of silent desperation. On July 9, the officials of the wholly-owned ADA subsidiary purchased an ad on dentalblogs.com titled “Press Release: CareCredit Adds 24-Month, No-Interest [sic] Payment Plan” (no byline).

http://www.dentalblogs.com/archives/administrator/press-release-carecredit-adds-24-month-no-interst-payment-plan/

Even though I approve of the benevolence in the idea of extending credit to those with worsening dental problems – especially during these hard financial times for patients – the anonymous CareCredit (ADA) representative who posted the ad failed to respond to my timely and important question: “If the Red Flags Rule is not delayed for the third time in three weeks, how will it affect those who offer Care Credit?”

Assessment

Nor did he or she respond to my follow up response on July 13. “On July 9 at 4:54 pm, I submitted a sincere question concerning how the Red Flags Rules 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?”

Conclusion

So far, I’m still waiting for responses to all three questions. I trust you will treat my concerns with more respect, Editor.

Conclusion

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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

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

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How to Become a ME-P Thought-Leader

Answering a Growing Chorus of Inquiries

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

[Managing Editor]hetico

The Medical Executive-Post is the complimentary companion blog to the premium peer-reviewed quarterly subscription journal: Healthcare Organizations [Financial Management Strategies]. While the perspective of our blog is private medical practitioners, the focus of our e-journal on CD-ROM is large medical groups, healthcare organizations, hospitals, healthcare-systems, ASCs, emerging healthcare institutions and medical business entities  TABLE OF CONTENTS

HOFMS

The ME-P is for Doctors

 

Currently, the ME-P is being developed as a common venue for medical professionals to share their insights on how to best manage a private medical practice. A well-established practice will have a solid financial and executive-management foundation, and will have protocols, procedures and contingency plans in place before they are ever needed in an emergency. And so, we seek new-wave and next-generation input from physicians, osteopaths, podiatrists, dentist, nurses, PAs, CRNAs and optometrists who have experience starting and running medical practices in the Health 2.0 modern era. The goal is better patient care as doctors avoid costly or tragic management mistakes.

biz-book

The ME-P is for Financial Advisors and Management Consultants

Physician advisors like attorneys, accountants, practice managers, medical billing experts, insurance agents, commercial realtors, healthcare IT experts and others are invited to display their expertise, too. You may not become rich here, but you may become famous, or at least develop an excellent client base from the doctors and practitioners reading your articles, posts and comments! Financial advisors, CMAs, CFAs, MBAs, PhDs, CFP® and Certified Medical Planners [CMP™] are also invited to strut “cognitive-stuff”, as free-labor publishing entrepreneurs! Then, we aim to unite both sectors for success.  

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Steps to Becoming a Thought-Leader

1. Send us an email with your bio and contact info.

2. Tell us why you want to write for the ME-P.

3. Send in an original writing sample.

We may follow-up and discuss your credentials and the topics you’re interested in writing about.

Assessment  

Speaking engagements, travel to exotic locales, and print or e-book chapter contributions may all be in your future because of your career launching contributions to the ME-P. Everyone has something to share and teach, and we look forward to learning from everyone joining us here. And, please feel free to contact us for deeper involvement in all www.MedicalBusinessAdvisors.com, www.HealthDictionarySeries.com or www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com activities. Take your career to the next level with the ME-P.

HDS

Conclusion

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

Link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/HealthcareFinancialsthePostForcxos

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

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Healthcare Organizations: www.HealthcareFinancials.com

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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?

Conclusion

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Product Details 

Discount Brokerages versus On-Line Brokerages

Physicians Must Appreciate the Differences

By Daniel B. Moisand; CFP® and the ME-P StaffME-P Blogger

Here are a few questions for all physician-investors to consider in 2009:

1. True or False? 

The key to investment success is to pay as little for a trade as possible.

2. True or False? 

The higher the number of trades in an investment account, the better the investment results.

3. True or False? 

The majority of revenue of a discount or on-line brokerage comes from trades. 

A: The answers should be crystal clear! False, False and True. It is almost entirely that simple.

Cost Control

Much like a medical practice, keeping costs down is an important objective of personal finance but, it is certainly not the key to success.  There are many studies that show that active trading garners inferior results compared to a longer term buy and hold type of strategy. One of the most publicized recently was conducted by a UC-Davis team led by Dr. Terrance Odean. The study examined the actual tracing activity of thousands of self-directed accounts at a major discount brokerage over a six-year period. The results were clear. Regardless of trading level, most of the accounts underperformed the market and showed that the higher the number of trades, the worse the result.

Of Bulls and Bears

While the U.S. markets were on a dramatic upswing a decade ago, the general interest level in them increased as well.  More households owned financial assets than ever before. Demographics drive much of this surge. The older edge of the baby boom generation is finding that as the children leave home, they have more income than ever before and saving for retirement becomes a higher priority. The proliferation of defined contribution [401-k, 403-b] retirement plans has also forced more people to take responsibility for their long-term security. When, the US stock market was on a tear; one would have be wise to remember an old Wall Street saying – “Don’t confuse brains with a bull market.” Unfortunately today, far too many self-directed investors did not heed the warnings. The media is full of stories about investors whose portfolios were decimated by the recent bear market. While this loss of wealth is somewhat tragic, in almost all cases the losses were made possible by poor planning and/or poor execution that a mediocre advisor would have avoided.

The Business of Advice

One also cannot conclude that everyone is acting as his or her own investment advisor. The advice business continues to thrive. Sales of load mutual funds have continued to grow, as has commission revenue at full-service firms. No-load funds have continued to grow as well and gain market share from the load funds. However, it would be inaccurate to tie that growth to do-it-yourselfers. Much of the growth of no-load funds can be attributed to the advice of various types of advisors who are recommending the funds. In addition, several traditionally no-load fund families have begun to offer funds through brokers for a load.

The Discounters

For physicians and all clients, the primary attraction to a discounter is cost. Everyone loves a bargain. Once it is determined that it is a good idea to buy say 100 shares of IBM, the trade needs to get executed. When the trade settles one owns 100 shares of IBM, regardless of what was paid for the trade. There is no harm in saving a few bucks. However, the decision to buy the IBM shares and when to sell those shares will have a far greater impact on the investment results than the cost of the trade as long as the level of trading is kept at a prudent level. The fact is that most good advisors use discount firms for custodial and transaction services. The leading providers to advisors are Schwab, Fidelity, and Waterhouse.fp-book1

Ego Driven

In addition to cost savings, discounters appeal to one’s ego for business. Everyone wants to feel like a smart investor; especially doctors. Often, marketing materials will cite the IBM example and portray the cost difference as an example of how the investor is either stupid or being ripped off. There is also a strong appeal to one’s sense of control. An investor is made to feel like they are the masters of their own destiny.  All of this is a worthy goal. One should feel confident, in control, and smart about financial issues. Hiring a professional should not result in losing any of these feelings, rather solidify them. Getting one’s affairs in order is smart. The advisor works for the client so a client should maintain control by only delegating tasks to the extent one is comfortable. Knowing that the particular circumstances are being addressed effectively should yield enhanced confidence.

Sales Pressure Release

The final reason people turn to discount and on-line brokerages is to avoid sales pressure. Unlike the stereotypical stockbroker, no one calls to push a particular stock. Instead, sales pressure is created within the mind of the investor. By maintaining a steady flow of information about stocks and the markets to the account holders, brokerages keep these issues in the forefront of the investor’s minds. This increases the probability that the investor will act on the information and execute a trade. Add some impressive graphics and interfaces and the brokerage can keep an investor glued to the screen. The Internet has made this flow easier and cheaper for the brokerages, lowering costs and increasing the focus on trade volume to achieve profitability.

Assessment

The pressurized information flow however, does little to protect investors during a bear market. Ironically, this focus on trading is one of the very conflicts investors are trying to avoid by fleeing a traditional full service broker.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. What are your feelings on discount and internet brokers? Tell us what you think. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/HealthcareFinancialsthePostForcxos

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

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Medical Risk Management: http://www.jbpub.com/catalog/9780763733421

Healthcare Organizations: www.HealthcareFinancials.com

Health Administration Terms: www.HealthDictionarySeries.com

Physician Advisors: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

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Sponsors Welcomed

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