Dentists Complain of Dental Patient-Stealing (Video)

Nearly half of dentists complain that other dentists or employees have stolen dental patients from their practices, according to our survey.

Fully 44% of dentist respondents reported that former colleagues have tried to take patients with them to their next job.

Read more: Dental Patients Are a Valuable Resource

Private Equity Dental Management Companies Come Under Fire

Private Equity Dental Management Companies Come Under FirePrivate Equity dental management companies are at the center of a U.S. Senate inquiry, audits, investigations and civil actions in six states over allegations of unnecessary procedures, low-quality treatment and the unlicensed practice of dentistry, according to a report released by Bloomberg News.

Federal lawmakers and state regulators are trying to determine whether a popular dental practice model funded by Wall Street is having a destructive influence on dentistry in the U.S.

The private equity dental companies only account for about 12,000, or 8%, of U.S. dental practices, according to Thomas A. Climo, a Las Vegas dental consultant.

In 2010, The Wealthy Dentist reported that All Smiles Dental Center Inc., a management company owned by Chicago-based Valor Equity Partners, filed for bankruptcy protection after a Texas Medicaid action cut off reimbursement payments because of their exorbitant amounts of orthodontic care at the expense of Texas taxpayers.

All Smiles was part of a state audit that discovered 90% of the Medicaid claims for orthodontic braces weren’t medically needed.

After years of criticism that the poor were being deprived of dental care under Medicaid, class-action lawsuits and public pressure forced Medicaid to change their health care reimbursements. As reported by The Wealthy Dentist in our story, Taxpayers Footing the Bill for Braces in Texas, some Texas’ dental practices went on to bill Medicaid $184 million for Medicaid orthodontics — more than the rest of the United States combined.

M. Alec Parker, executive director of the North Carolina Dental Society told Bloomberg News that the private equity industry stepped up its investments in dental management over the last 5 years partly because health care was one of the few areas that grew through the recession.

According to the Bloomberg report, Christine Ellis, a Dallas orthodontist, who testified before Congress in April of this year reported that the “flagrancy of the fraud” she found in audits she performed for Texas Medicaid “is truly unbelievable,” with only 10% of the paid claims she reviewed actually qualifying for Medicaid coverage.

Ellis told the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that Texas “has gained a lot of fraudulent orthodontic providers, including many private equity owned dental clinics engaged in the illegal practice of dentistry.”

Medicaid's Dental Boom - Bloomberg News

This May North Carolina is considering legislation that would subject agreements between dentists and the companies to state approval over concerns brought about by the the practices of private equity dental practices.

The Wealthy Dentist twice reported on the North Carolina Senate Bill 655 that would require the North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners to examine all business contracts entered into by dental practices in their state.

Our first article, Dentists Beware: The Government May Want To Tell You How To Manage Your Practice detailed information concerning inclusive authority over how dentists manage their business.

The second The Wealthy Dentist article, Dental Practice Management: North Carolina Senate Bill Wants Dentists To Do It Themselves discussed dentist responses to the impact this bill could have on their dental practices.

The measure has already passed the state Senate and has moved on to the House, where leaders have appointed a special interim committee to study the bill and its potential repercussions to dentists.

Reports have surfaced that the legislative proposal likely to be heard this month. The basics of the bill is intended to restrict contracts dentists can build with dental service organizations and give the Dental Board control of how dentists in North Carolina run their practices.

The North Carolina Dental Society supports the bill, stating that dental management companies often bill dental patients for unneeded care and opponents insist that passage of the bill will only drive up dental care costs.

What are your thoughts on private equity dental management practices?

For more on this story see: Dental Abuse Seen Driven by Private Equity Investments

Why Dental Insurance Can Be Aggravating for Dentists (video)

Why Dental Insurance Can Be Aggravating for Dentists (video)Many dentists feel that dental insurance is the bane of their existence.

Dentists often say that dealing with dental insurance is one of the most complicated aspects of dental practice management.

In fact, most dental patients have little understanding of how their dental insurance coverage actually works.  The intricacies of dental insurance and the lack of sufficient instruction provided by some insurance companies make it almost impossible for some dental patients to properly understand their dental insurance benefits.

This creates a widening divide between patients’ expectations of their dentist’s fees and what their the actual dental insurance coverage provides.

As one prosthodontist complained in a The Wealthy Dentist Survey on dental insurance, “My patients demand that I accept insurance assignments. At first I refused, but I lost more than half of my dental patients to other practitioners accepting insurance.”

The Wealthy Dentist survey asked dentists if they see dental insurance as friend or foe.

Not all dentists who responded to the survey see dealing with dental insurance as all bad.

“Patients with dental insurance coverage are much more likely to agree to a treatment plan,” responded one dentist.

To hear what dentists had to say about dealing with dental insurance, Click on play to watch the following video —

What are your thoughts on dealing with dental insurance?

Dental Management Companies: Dentist Survey Video

Dental management companies dentist survey videoDental management companies can be useful, but many dentists feel they cross a line with dental practice ownership.

We conducted a survey asking dentists if they agree or disagree with the statement that, “Only dentists should own dental practices.”

Fully 89% of the dentists responding to this survey agree that dental practice ownership should be reserved for dentists, not dental management companies or private investors.

Jim Du Molin and Julie Frey discuss dentists’ thoughts on dental management companies in this video.

“Corporate dentistry is here,” acknowledges a California orthodontist, “but only a dentist should be allowed to own a practice or corporation. They will more likely to put the patients’ best interest first, before corporate profits to shareholders and investors.”

“Dentistry is becoming a commodity, just like a loaf of bread,” said a Washington dentist. “All the dental advertising and giveaways have cheapened the status of dentists and dentistry.”

A Colorado dentist offered, “Some dentists are just not cut out to be business people and should just stick to clinical treatment.”

What would you advise a dentist considering joining forces with a dental management company?

HIPAA and Dental Practice Cloud Computing

HIPAA and Dental Practice Cloud ComputingDental Practice cloud computing is here to stay and research and technology analysis company, Forrester, predicts the cloud market will reach about $55 billion by 2014.

The term cloud computing refers to the use of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store and process data, rather than a local hard drive, or central office network.

The appeal is the ability to access data from any location from any computer, rather than being limited to one specific location and computer.

As dentists and their dental practices continue to embrace this latest technological trend, HIPAA privacy and security rules will soon be modified to address cloud computing to ensure that dental patient data is safeguarded.

GovInfoSecurity.com is reporting that Joy Pritts, chief privacy officer in the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, a unit of the Department of Health and Human Services, recently discussed HIPAA and cloud computing at a panel discussion hosted by Patient Privacy Rights.

Pritts acknowledged that the movement of health information to the cloud is inevitable.

The shift to cloud computing “reminds me of the mobile area, where technology and practices are ahead of policy,” Pritts said. The impending new HIPAA modifications will help ensure that cloud vendors take adequate steps to protect dental patient data.

HIPAA rules do not prevent dental practice management companies, dental practices and the medical community at large from moving to cloud computing as long as they comply with current HIPAA law.

According to Government Health IT in a letter to the HHS Office for Civil Rights, Patient Privacy Rights founder and chair Deborah Peel, MD, urged the Department of Health and Human Services to create cloud-computing guidelines around the issues of secure infrastructure, security standards and business associate agreements.

“Issuing guidance to strengthen and clarify cloud-based protections for data security and privacy will help assure patients (that) sensitive health data they share with their physicians and other health care professionals will be protected,” Peel said.

“Cloud-computing is proving to be valuable,” Peel said, but the nation’s transition to electronic health records will be slowed “if patients do not have assurances that their personal medical information will always have comprehensive and meaningful security and privacy protections.” (Source: Government Health IT)

Is your dental practice utilizing cloud computing?  What are your thoughts?

For more on this story see: Cloud Computing: HIPAA’s Role

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