Sunset Review Public Hearing on State Board of Dental Examiners Next Week

Texas Dentists for Medicaid Reform –

Those that want to make their views known about the current state of the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners can testify in Austin next week before the Sunset Advisory Commission.  The staff report from the Commission is highly critical of the board’s operation – see ourprevious story on this from April.

The public hearing is taking place on Thursday, June 23, starting at 9:00 am in Capitol Extension, Room E1.030 at the Capitol.

See full text here.

The NextDDS Magazine – Fall 2015 – The Road to Integrated Care

The NEXTDDS – Click here for the full magazine pdf.

What is a DSO?

“DSO-supported dentistry is a growing professional career choice that would not exist if dentists didn’t want them or need them.”

— Dr. Quinn Dufurrena, Executive Director, Association of Dental Support Organizations (ADSO).

The Role of Dental Support Organizations

At their simplest, DSOs provide support services to dentists, with their services ranging from practice consulting to total practice management. While dentists are always responsible for patient care, clinical decision making, and patient records, DSOs can help streamline and/or consolidate certain administrative requirements of the practice in order to improve their efficiency and productivity.

Whether recent graduate or practicing dentist, ther are many who may benefit from practicing in a DSO environment. Those desiring flexible schedules, bearing the burden of significant student loan debt, or needing to build competency in a structured practice model are ideal for the practice supported by a DSO. New dentists who wish to learn from proven business systems rather than a traditional solo practitioner are also well suited for the DSO model. To this point, the ADA in 2010 reported that 6% of dentists surveyed had a practice supported by a DSO, and 15% of dentists who had practiced for fewer than 10 years were working for a DSO-supported practice.

Advantages of DSOs

Traditional dental practices commonly outsource nonclinical tasks such as billing, payroll, marketing, and human resources to third-party companies or consultants to manage aspects of the practice. The primary difference between practices utilizing a DSO model and those that do not is that a DSO consolidates these administrative tasks to a single source while traditional practices may use a number of consultants (CPAs, HR management, payroll services, etc.) for these services. Practices supported by DSOs benefit from economies of scale present in a network. They have greater buying power, may negotiate less expensive laboratory fees, better leases, insurance contracts, etc. They can also retain revenue in-house by creating their own specialist networks, for example, rather than referring patients out of the practice.

Professional Standards

Just like solo practitioners, dentists who partner with a DSO must maintain their own professional standards and take responsibility for their own clinical/ethical decisions, regardless of who handles the business activities. The dental laws in each state define what is clinical (i.e., matters of patient care reserved to dentists licensed in that state and regulated by its dental board) and nonclinical (i.e., operational tasks that can be performed by anyone). DSOs are able to provide only nonclinical services.

Don’t add red tape to my dental practice

Wausau Daily Herald

I have been a practicing dentist for nearly a decade. After post-graduate work at Marquette University and undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I was fortunate to follow in my father’s footsteps as a dentist. He too graduated from Marquette. It is the family calling; my brother is also a dentist. Taking care of people is what we do. It’s our passion and we’re grateful to provide the best dental care to our patients as possible.

It is therefore extremely troubling that the Wisconsin legislature is considering a bill (A.B. 368/S.B. 637) that would affect my whole family and our ability to effectively care for our patients.

Not long ago, we each were having separate problems with the standard and outdated model for managing a practice. My brother had a child who needed medical attention many times a year so he needed flexibility with his work schedule and assurance that his practice would prosper even though he was sometimes away. My father was getting to the twilight of his career and was looking for ways to take care of his patients, but not have the burden of the business side of dentistry each day. I, on the other hand, was a fairly new dentist who needed help to administer multiple offices with tens of thousands of patients.

Three different dentists with three very different types of challenges. We all needed help. Circumstances were driving our individual focus away from patients and toward these other problems.

Running a dental office has many non-clinical aspects like managing supply procurement, facility maintenance, and bookkeeping, to name a few. I turned to a well-established practice of working with a dental support organization, or DSOs. DSOs first came on the scene in the 1970s and have been a boon to patients across the country by working with individual dentists to solve the unique problems of their practice. In my case, the non-clinical tasks of a large practice combined with providing the dental care meant I was working seven days a week and losing the passion and fire necessary for a caring profession.

The proposed legislation gives unchecked regulatory authority over non-dentist entities that do not provide clinical care to patients. With a DSO I don’t have to worry about training, human resources, banking, purchasing, and most accounting. I can’t imagine a heart surgeon having to worry about payroll or if the hospitals quarterly returns are in, they have to stop focusing on patients. I’m concerned others won’t get the benefit of a DSO if legislation passes. It would cause a disruptive and chilling effect on DSOs that have operated here for more than 30 years.

Dental Service Organizations allow dentists more time to focus on patients, which expands the access to care and improves the quality of healthcare for our patients.  Additional regulations are unnecessary and will only increase expenses and decrease access to affordable and convenient dental care for state residents. A DSO-supported practice might not be everyone’s choice, but I would love a time when we can all just simply focus on helping our patients.

Dr. Tim Quirt is a dentist from Wausau who practices at Quirt Family Dentistry

Schaumburg dentist gives away smiles for free to disabled patients

Daily Herald

Dr. A.J. Acierno’s Schaumburg dental office was bustling on Friday afternoon with patients getting checkups, cleanings and filings.

He and his staff normally close up and head home for the weekend at 1 p.m., but this day was different.

Wearing “A Reason to Smile” T-shirts, Acierno and his staff spend three hours Friday afternoons every other month providing basic dental care to adults with developmental disabilities from Clearbrook, the Arlington Heights-based social service agency.

Clearbrook, like other nonprofits, has seen cuts in funding from the state, including money for dental care.

One of Acierno’s patients, whose brother is a Clearbrook client, suggested Acierno meet with Clearbrook officials, who told the dentist about the cutbacks.

Acierno decided to donate his time and encouraged his staff at the 14 dental offices he oversees to do the same. Acierno is CEO of DecisionOne Dental Partners, which has offices in Elk Grove Village, St. Charles, Lake in the Hills and Cary.

He’s now been providing the service to Clearbrook clients for about a year.

“Every office participates at some point,” he said, including dentists, hygienists and front desk staff who volunteer their time.

Acierno’s practice picks up the costs for the dental work. He says the importance of service to others was ingrained in him growing up.

“I think it’s a moral issue,” he said. “To watch a group of people, that need help that our government refuses to help — that’s sad and totally unacceptable.”

Many of the high-functioning Clearbrook clients who come in suffer from poor dental health, and regular dental care is difficult to afford.

Acierno says he’s planning to expand his services to perhaps four hours on a Friday, or having Clearbrook patients in twice a month, because of the need that exists.

Jacquie Lange, a Clearbrook medical driver, regularly brings the agency’s clients for dental checkups. Nearly 20 clients saw Acierno and his staff on this recent Friday.

“There’s a huge need,” Lange said. “This is just fabulous. This is a Godsend to us.”