DENTISTS: Don’t Write Many Prescriptions / Ransomware and Cyber News

A Personal Op-Ed Perspective

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pruitt

By Darrell Pruitt DDS

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Dentists simply don’t write that many prescriptions.

Henry Schein employees are not defending Stanley Bergman’s venture into e-prescription software. That is because they know it stinks. Digital prescriptions not only endanger patients and dental practices, but they offer no tangible benefits over paper. None!

Digital only increases the profits for Stanley Bergman and pharmaceutical interests – who eliminate data entry personnel from their payroll.

“First do no harm”

Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We welcome back the op-eds of colleague Dr. Pruitt and trust he remains well in 2022.

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Ransomware and Dentistry – Recent News

“Why Healthcare Will Remain a Top Cyberattack Target in 2022 – one of the main reasons criminals are interested in healthcare data is that it contains a lot of details, such as date of birth, Social Security numbers – the active ingredients for identity theft. You can get those data points from any number of places, but healthcare organizations are the richest sources.” Healthcare Info Security, December 28, 2021.https://www.govinfosecurity.com/interviews/healthcare-will-remain-top-cyberattack-target-in-2022-i-4999

“Ransomware in 2022: You May Be Screwed, but Without Insurance It Could Always Be Worse – A commentator recently summed up the risk of ransomware attack in 2022: ‘we’re all screwed.’ True enough. But that’s all the more reason to prepare right now. After all, the only thing worse than a ransomware attack is not having adequate insurance coverage when it occurs. The time to prepare is now.” National Law Review, Wednesday, January 5, 2022.
https://www.natlawreview.com/article/ransomware-2022-you-may-be-screwed-without-insurance-it-could-always-be-worse

“Insurers run from ransomware cover as losses mount” Summary:
– Lloyd’s of London discourages cyber expansion-sources
– Ransomware as profitable as Colombian cocaine cartels
– Some insurers asking policyholders to pay half of ransoms
– Attackers change strategy from scattergun to focused.Reuters, November 19, 2021.
https://www.reuters.com/markets/europe/insurers-run-ransomware-cover-losses-mount-2021-11-19/

Yep.  We’re all screwed. Well, not all of us.

 Paper remains the best deterrent to ransomware. 

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ORAL HEALTH AND EQUITY

BY NIHCM

INFO-GRAPHIC
Gum disease remains one of the most prevalent chronic diseases in the United States with 46% of adults over 30 showing symptoms. Although significant improvements have been made to improve oral health in America, many people still experience barriers to preventive or essential dental care.

Black Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans, as well as low-income populations, children and pregnant women are at greater risk of oral health diseases. The disparities experienced by these populations have only been exacerbated by the pandemic. 

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Image result for caries

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In this infographic highlights the challenges to achieving optimal oral health and identifies opportunities for advancing health equity moving forward. 

INFO-GRAPHIC: https://nihcm.org/publications/oral-health-health-equity?utm_source=NIHCM+Foundation&utm_campaign=901307447a-Oral_Health_Infographic_091421&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6f88de9846-901307447a-167744768

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On the Domestic Oral Healthcare System

USA Perspectives

By http://www.MCOL.com

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Conclusion

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Robots Used in Chinese 3D Printed Dental Implant Surgery

Robots Used in Chinese 3D Printed Dental Implant Surgery

[By Bertalan Meskó MD PhD]

Two 3D printed dental implants have been autonomously placed in the mouth of a volunteer patient by the world’s first autonomous surgical robot.

The hour-long procedure, supervised by surgeons from the Fourth Military Medical Institute took place in Xi’an, central China, and used a robot jointly developed by the hospital and the robotics department at Beijing’s Beihang University.

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Robot used in Chinese 3D printed dental implant surgery

Conclusion

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The Amazing Future of Dentistry and Oral Health

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Bert Mesko

By Bertalan Meskó, MD PhD

The Amazing Future of Dentistry and Oral Health

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Conclusion

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The “Selling-Out” of a Profession [Dentistry]?

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Dentistry …?

[By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS]

1-darrellpruittSeveral years ago, a president-elect of the American Dental Association proclaimed, “The electronic health record may not be the result of changes of our choice. They are going to be mandated. No one is going to ask, ‘Do you want to do this?’ No, it’s going to be, ‘You have to do this.’” (ADA News, October 2008).

Looking back, it is easy to recognize the ADA’s renegade capitulation to HHS as a warning sign of things to come.

The ADA is the same national healthcare institution whose leaders joined Delta Dental in persuading dentists to volunteer for HIPAA’s NPI numbers – never revealing what they are to be used for. It’s the same not-for-profit Chicago corporation which continues to protect non-dues revenue by misleading the nation about the “savings and convenience” of EHRs in dentistry. Among all healthcare organizations, the ADA is alone in their enthusiasm for EHRs and Meaningful Use requirements.

And to top it off, the ADA leadership has progressively become less accessible by the community it serves – NEVER entering into open discussions of urgent dental issues on the internet, even to the extent of ending its commitment to answering dental questions for visitors to Dr. Oz’s Sharecare.com. It’s only dentistry for crying out loud!

As a matter of fact, Dr. Maxine Feinberg, the new ADA President, recently suggested in an interview with the ADA’s Judy Jakush that telephone conversations are “The best kept secret of the ADA which members don’t understand.” What?

Dr. Feinberg: “The best-kept secret is that if you have a problem or complaint, you will likely walk away with a positive experience. And, on the rare occasion that the staff can’t help you, there is a good chance that you will speak to Dr. Kathy O’Loughlin, the executive director. That’s amazing customer service.”

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Insightful or clueless dentist?

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What’s not to understand? I understand that ADA membership numbers have taken a hit over the last few years, but nevertheless, the dues of a little over 150,000 dentists still help pay the salaries of ADA employees. That’s a lot of phone calls that will have to be transferred to the right person (the first time), scheduled to call back later or be completely ignored. Isn’t email, or even the US Mail a better idea? Or is lousy communication (unaccountability) with dentists and patients the goal?

About that NPI number

How do you feel about the ADA leading the effort to assess and report your value to your community without ever stepping into your office or talking with a satisfied patient? When you volunteered for your National Provider Identifier at the insistence of the ADA and Delta Dental, you agreed to CMS terms. What? Nobody mentioned that?:

“Spread the mission of the DQA – The DQA, formed in 2008 through a request from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, is comprised of multiple stakeholders from across the oral health community who are committed to development of consensus-based quality measures.” By Kelly Soderlund for the ADA News, November 3, 2014.

Does “multiple stakeholders” sound as costly to you as it does to me, Doc? I say we already have too many stakeholders. What about the principals (dentists and their patients) who pay the stakeholders’ bills?

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eHRs

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Does anyone disagree that DQA looks like the ADA’s desperate mission creep for cash? With the chronic drop in membership, the Chicago corporation has turned to vigorous pursuit of non-dues revenue – probably in the form of federal grants and stimulus money from HHS. The ADA (which prefers clumsy communication via telephone), is asking state and local dental leaders to put their own personal credibility at risk by persuading uninformed dentists to unquestioningly accept multiple stakeholders’ assessment of their value to society – just like clueless dentists cooperated in the NPI effort.

Dr. David Schirmer, chair of the DQA’s education committee, tells ADA News: “Eventually, all of dentistry will need to understand quality measures. But before we reach our grass roots membership, we need our leaders in dentistry to understand.” He adds, “I’m challenging those leaders to pave the way for their younger colleagues and help them understand the long-term impact this will have on dentistry.”

ADA Editor Soderlund: “The DQA has taken the lead on developing quality measures within oral health care. These measures touch every practicing dentist in the United States, and with dentistry, how it’s modeled and how it’s financed changes in the future — specifically as a result of the Affordable Care Act — they’ll become even more prevalent. The mission of the DQA is to advance performance measurement as a means to improve oral health, patient care and safety through a consensus-building process.”

“— specifically as a result of the Affordable Care Act —“ Since you never respond, ADA, how do we know you haven’t sold us out once again for taxpayers’ money?

Assessment

If it’s difficult for the ADA to hold onto membership now, just wait until the nation’s dentists figure out that Obamacare cannot give everyone A’s on their internet report cards. This means the majority of dentists are going to be pissed at the ADA for their bad grades, no matter what.

Conclusion

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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.”

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Insightful or clueless dentist?

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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.

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slow down

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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 the Future of Dentistry?

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Not good for the profession … as we know it!

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

1-darrellpruittIf you have not yet noticed, the future doesn’t look good for the dental profession as we know it.

Like far too many neighborhood primary care physicians who can no longer make a profit on their own, managed care is having its way with dentists as well.

Unfortunately, our patients remain clueless about downsides to discounted care sold by huge, insensitive corporations manned by executives who cannot be held accountable for their favorite providers’ level of care.

Since as a dentist I am somewhat transparent anyway, I would like to share some feelings with friends about an awkward subject that is on the minds of more dentists than one might expect, yet (almost) none feel comfortable revealing it: Regardless of the public’s perception of dentists’ wealth for the last few decades, it does not look like the anticipated economic recovery is likely to include the small dental practice down the street.

Schadenfreud

Not unlike Schadenfreude, I am certain at least some of dentistry’s disappointed customers may find this news addictingly pleasing to savor – up until one needs a dentist for a problem that cannot be handled safely by their designated dental therapist preferred by insurance MBAs.

I watch the dental news closer than most dentists, and sadly, my studied predictions have always proven to be very accurate, even if unpopular. Today I confidently predict that the profitability most dentists enjoyed for decades will not return for years – perhaps a decade or more.

On the other hand, as it becomes increasingly difficult to find dentists who allow time for gentle injections, patients should expect to pay them better than most. When an imbalance in the free market becomes unsustainable by artificial means such as managed care’s pay-for-performance algorithms, this is the way competition regulates quality in a natural way.

Personally, I’ve dealt with the downturn by working part time as an associate of another practice to make ends meet, and I feel fortunate to have found such a wonderful opportunity with a wonderful, patient-centered team. Marci, my wife, seems to be happier as well.

Assessment

Sorry if today’s news was a bummer, Doc. Maybe it is time others spoke up as well. Our leaders’ obvious lack of interaction on the internet exposes a tremendous vacuum, and they are incapable of rescuing the profession with silence… and neither will rushed therapists in huge dental clinics.

It’s up to you and me, Doctor. Come on out. The air is fine.

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Transparency Emerges in Dentistry

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Cavities Blamed on Patients

[By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS]

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

PBS Frontline

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

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

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

Tradition Dentists Usually Silent

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

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

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

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

Responses

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

Assessment

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

Conclusion

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

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On 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?

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

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

By Ann Miller RN MHA and The Whole Tooth

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

About Dr. Pruitt

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

About The Whole Tooth

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

Assessment

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

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

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Some Dental Consultants Say the Most Incredible Things

Are Dentists like … Rodney Dangerfield? 

By Darrell Kellus Pruitt; DDS

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

Gary Kadi DDS, DentistryiQ

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

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

eDR Rationalization?

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

Working Both Sides of the Consulting Fence

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

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

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

eDR Lobbying 

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

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

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

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

Is HIT – Or any IT – Really Secure? 

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

Cost Savings

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

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

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

The PennWell Article

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

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Assessment

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

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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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On the HITECH Act of 2009

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

By Staff Reportersdigital-signature2

On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act [ARRA]. According to some, the law provides an opportunity to transform healthcare in the United States.

HIT

The law also provides $19 billion in health information technology [HIT] funding to ensure widespread adoption and use of interoperable HIT systems like the electronic health records funding provision. But, as ME-P readers are aware; this is not apparently for electronic Dental Records [eDRs]; and CCHIT is no advocate of professional diversity.

Link: https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2009/03/02/cchit-is-prejudiced-and-lacks-diversity-%e2%80%93-an-indictment

HITECH

Obama’s signing of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act [a portion of the stimulus package] recognized the importance of HIT as the foundation for health care reform and cost savings.

Assessment

Is this report correct? Read all 187 pages and decide.

Link: HITECH http://democrats.science.house.gov/Media/File/Commdocs/HealthIT%20Bill.pdf

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Discount Dentistry Brokers

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More … on Sleazy Defenseless Companies

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS

I just came across a deceptive advertisement for a discount dentistry broker.

Yea, I know! What’s new? 

Why do we as healthcare providers silently allow naïve consumers to be so brazenly misled by sleazy businesses like Universal Benefit Plans and Universal Dental Plan, when we know they cheat their clients out of healthcare dollars?

Massachusetts Non-Profits

In a press release that announces their joint outreach initiative to aid Massachusetts nonprofits, it says Universal Dental Plan provides “… guaranteed rate discounts of 20-50% on all procedures.”

http://news.prnewswire.com/DisplayReleaseContent.aspx?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/01-06-2009/0004949991&EDATE=

Off the Top 

Just think – 20-50% off what – a super-inflated “retail” price? Dentists’ overhead easily tops 60%. If a dentist is losing 10% of his or her retirement just to do an intricate procedure for a gullible and trusting consumer who has no idea what is happening, how well do you think that work of art will chew? 

A Madoff Investment

Universal Dental Plan sounds almost as good as a Bernard L Madoff Investment, except that Ponzi tycoon Madoff accidentally promised quality before the wheels fell off. Universal Benefit Plans and Universal Dental Plan are sleazy companies who will never attempt to defend themselves on the Internet. They know better.

Assessment

This has been fun. Let’s do it again. And, if sleazy attorneys don’t like what I have to say about these two sleazy clients, come and get me.  But you better bring a ladder and a sack lunch. I’m not worried. I’ve said the same thing about Delta Dental, and they haven’t the guts to face me either [“Such a ‘Sleazy’ Company” on this Medical Executive-Post].

https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2008/09/19/%E2%80%9Csuch-a-sleazy-company%E2%80%9D/

Note: Dr. Pruitt blogs at PenWell and other dental sites, where this post first appeared.

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Conclusion

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ADA – Can You Hear Me Now?

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The Sounds of Institutional Silence 

[By Darrell K. Pruitt DDS]

pruitt2

Hey you, American Dental Association.

What do you have against talking with us members?

Do you fear the questions we might ask, or something?

Who I Am 

I am one of a growing number of dentists who believes that our profession, as well as all US health care, urgently needs transparency through communications – hair and all – bottom to top.  That means accountability from leadership.

Government Similarity 

President-elect Barack Obama has the same idea about government. Over a year ago, candidate Obama promised that all his Cabinet Secretaries would maintain weblogs to promote two way communication with all citizens. Even before he takes office, his website has been busy for weeks with interactive conversations with average citizens … yet I cannot get an official from my own professional association to respond to me online at all. I pay dues to the non-profit organization. How good is that?

The Naked Conversations 

Over two years ago, I read about weblogs in “Naked Conversations,” written by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. I quickly became a fan of networks. A few months later, I offered to help start an ADA weblog – in a conversation with ADA Senior Vice President Dr. John R. Luther. I suggested that if ADA members could interact online with ADA officials or their representatives in real time, the transparency would empower the organization like never before in history. He was not interested.

An ADA Weblog 

Dr. Luther dismissed my idea outright and refused to discuss it further. He specifically told me that when the ADA was ready for a weblog, “the ADA leadership would let me know.” If you don’t recognize it, his was a variation of a typical conversation-ending response often used by leaders of traditional top-to-bottom, command-and-control business models like the ADA’s. Other door-closers are “Just because,” and “Anyway, it’s mandated so we have no choice.”  In my opinion, the ADA and in turn, the dental profession, are hobbled by an archaic model that no longer works and is recently vulnerable to trouble-makers like me who not only don’t play by their self-serving rules – but have a hell of a good time flaunting them. 

So-Called Authoritarian Dismissals 

By the summer of ’06, I was already accustomed to authoritarian dismissals from Dr. Luther.  On a separate issue I had raised earlier concerning the NPI number, he used a nuclear door-closer when he suggested that I write a letter to the editor if his committee-approved non-answer didn’t satisfy me … which he knew didn’t come close. If I had gone through my ADA publications with my question, the turnaround – if it were even considered for publication – would have been at least six weeks. 

Chain of Command 

That is how the leaders of the ADA used to conveniently handle those who didn’t respect proper chain-of-command representation, which normally shelves tricky questions on local dental society levels long before they reach Headquarters in Chicago. Very soon, officials in the ADA will be demanded to explain what’s wrong with responding to members immediately, or their silence will look more and more suspicious. It is not a good time in history to be a dinosaur. Barack Obama’s team finds the time to talk to underlings. What makes the leaders of the American Dental Association so special?

Internal Rules

Oh yea! Here is another internal ADA rule. “Let’s not wash our laundry in public.”  That means laundry never gets washed. Now, Dr. Luther isn’t the only ADA official who won’t venture onto the Internet.  I have tried to attract past Presidents, current Presidents and future Presidents as well.

For example, when one Google searches “Dr. Ron Tankersley,” who will be our next President of the ADA, my article on the PennWell forum titled “An invitation to Dr. Ron Tankersley, President-elect of the ADA” – appears on his first page.

http://community.pennwelldentalgroup.com/forum/topics/an-invitation-to-dr-ron

Here is the invitation that has been ignored for two months

Dear Dr. Tankersley,

I too am a member of the ADA. Congratulations on your election to the highest post in our professional organization. It is an esteemed compliment when so many colleagues put so much faith in a fellow professional, especially in these challenging times for dentistry.

As a dentist, I am excited about the miracles of discovery that will become possible when we begin applying Evidence-Based Dentistry to a vast network of interoperable computers in dentists’ offices across the nation – creating real-time research.

  • How soon do you foresee this happening?
  • Can we expect to see the beginning of it during your reign?

Your response is appreciated by dentists and patients alike.

Assessment

Does anyone else found institutional silence odd these days? Or, am I unprofessional to demand information that I consider is owed me?

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Conclusion

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