FYI

Dentist blog from Delta Dental

Category: Industry (Page 2 of 4)

Find the latest news about dentistry and the dental health industry.

How dental technology can help take your care to the next level

As technology rapidly evolves, innovative new software and hardware have begun to appear in dental offices and schools around the country. Here are a few interesting and promising technologies that might be coming to your office soon.

Teledentistry

Thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, teledentistry has been expanding rapidly — in a recent survey, 34% of dentists reported that they see patients via telehealth platforms or plan to use it in the near future — and it’s projected to be a $2.6B industry by 2027.

A variety of services fall under the teledentistry umbrella, including:

Along with making dental care more accessible to patients during the pandemic, teledentistry has proven to be a useful tool treating for underserved populations. Low-income patients, rural patients, elderly patients in assisted living facilities and physically and intellectually disabled patients can face obstacles with in-person visits.

While teledentistry has shown great promise, the technology associated with it can be challenge for both dentists and patients. To help, we’ve introduced Delta Dental – Virtual Consult. This free, video-based platform enables you to consult with Delta Dental members virtually through a secure, HIPAA-compliant platform.

Artificial intelligence

While the first thing that pops into you head when you hear the term “artificial intelligence” might be science fiction, the science behind artificial intelligence isn’t fiction. And it’s available to help you right now.

Artificial intelligence, or AI, uses software to process information and learn patterns. As it gathers more information, it learns to assess situations and then make decisions or predict outcomes. As a result, AI can improve your ability to detect dental conditions quickly and accurately, and consistently provide you with the appropriate treatment. In ambiguous situations, AI can provide you with a second opinion.

So far, AI has proven to be a versatile tool for dentists, with these applications:

  • Making objective, consistent diagnoses for issues such as cavities
  • Diagnosing certain dental conditions, especially ones that may be caused by multiple factors, such as jaw issues and canker sores
  • Identifying patients at risk for developing oral cancers
  • Creating precise aligners
  • Determining orthodontic dental plans, including how the patient’s teeth should be moved, how much pressure should be applied to teeth and where pressure points on specific teeth are

Extended reality

Speaking of science fiction, another emerging technology that might have seemed impossible just a few years ago is extended reality, which includes several technologies:

  • Virtual reality (VR), a computer-generated, interactive, three-dimensional reality
  • Augmented reality (AR), an enhanced version of reality that combines real objects with computer-generated images, sounds or other sensory elements
  • Mixed reality (MR), a combination of the two

These technologies have potential applications in the dental field, including:

  • Planning and executing oral and maxillofacial surgeries, particularly implant placement and head and neck reconstructions. For example, with mandibular and maxillary reconstructions, a study found an excellent match between the virtual surgery plans and the actual outcomes, including the resection planes and the distance between the transplanted segments and the bone.
  • Education and training. Immersive 3D training with haptic feedback can be an effective and cost-saving training tool. Particularly useful is the ability to not only simulate a procedure in 3D, but also to be able to feel how much pressure to apply during drilling, cutting and milling through haptic feedback. The virtual simulations also enable students to assess their performance and then refine their technique.

3D printing

Invented in the early 1980s, 3D printers transform digital files into physical objects by stacking layers of material to form three-dimensional objects. Today, 3D printers can make objects from a variety of materials, including metals, ceramics, plastics and plaster.

3D printers are so adept at creating dental devices that the dental industry has become one of the leading users of 3D printing. Clear aligners are one of the highest volume applications for 3D printing technologies in the world.

3D printers may enable dental labs and offices to produce dental devices more quickly, accurately, consistently and inexpensively than human technicians can. With this improving technology and the exponential growth of clear aligner production, it’s estimated that by 2022 as many as 500 million dental devices and restorations will be produced annually with 3D printing technology. These include:

  • Crowns
  • Bridges
  • Dentures
  • Dental models
  • Retainers
  • Surgical guides for implants
  • Veneers
  • Orthodontic models

These are just a few of the innovations coming to your office soon. New technology continues to provide innovative ways to help you improve the accuracy, efficiency and value of the dental care you provide to your patients.

Teledentistry is now available in Texas

On June 16, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas signed HB 2056 into law, making it legal for Texas dentists to provide teledentistry services to their patients. Among other provisions, the law:

  • Requires informed consent from the patient
  • Establishes standards of care for teledentistry
  • Protects patient privacy
  • Promotes care for underserved areas
  • Addresses teledentistry’s use in treating patients with special needs
  • Sets up rules for Medicaid and teledentistry
  • Requests biennial reports on teledentistry’s effectiveness
  • Empowers the Texas Medical Board and State Board of Dental Examiners to set rules for teledentistry

Building up teledentistry services from scratch can seem daunting, but there are tools and resources out there that make it easy. From guides on how to see patients to tools like Delta Dental – Virtual Consult that help you easily expand your practice, Delta Dental makes it easy for you to find success with teledentistry.

Interested? Just fill out the interest form and we’ll reach out to you about getting started with Virtual Consult.

Dental fraud — what it is and how you can help fight it

An estimated 3% of the United States’ total spending on health care is caused by fraud, according to the National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association. That may sound like a small percentage, but with dental spending projected to reach $203 billion by 2027, that means we can expect to face over $6 billion in dental fraud.

Dental fraud is “any crime where an individual receives insurance money for filing a false claim, inflating a claim or billing for services not rendered,” according to the American Dental Association (ADA). Fraud can take many forms, but it requires intent, deception and unlawful gain.

Fraud harms everyone in the dental industry. It not only drives up the cost of coverage for patients and employers, but it can also directly affect your practice. Being found guilty of perpetrating fraud can result in fines, loss of professional licenses and even jail time!

Educate yourself and your staff on how to stay on the right side of the law. The ADA (PDF) and Delta Dental can help you, and your state’s dental board may have resources as well.

Common signs of fraud to watch out for

Because fraud requires intent and deception, there are signs that you and your staff can watch out for from patients who commit dental fraud. Stay alert for:

  • Patients who use another person’s ID or multiple IDs to obtain benefits
  • Patients who request that you misreport dates to circumvent calendar year maximums or limitations
  • Patients who misrepresent their available coverage or ask you to misrepresent care to their insurance (including concealing dual coverage)

Because fraud can be perpetrated by both patients and care providers, having clear policies can help prevent fraud before it begins. Make sure your practice prohibits the following:

  • Regular failure to collect a patient’s payment without notifying the carrier
  • Claims for covered services when non-covered services are provided
  • Recommendation of unnecessary services

Although fraud requires intent, it’s possible to commit mistakes that could unknowingly get you into trouble. It’s entirely possible to unknowingly commit fraud in an attempt to help patients who might be seeking help with their coverage. For example, waiving coinsurance costs is one example of this. In other cases, it might be a simple oversight. Common mistakes considered fraud include:

  • Listing the incorrect treating dentist on a claim
  • Coding the wrong treatment (for example, prophylaxis vs. periodontal maintenance)
  • Altering dates of service

What you can do to help protect your practice

Fraud can happen at any point in the process of providing care, accepting payment and submitting claims, but having clear, consistently applied policies for your practice can help everyone play their part in fighting fraud. Here are some general steps your practice can take.

  • Make arrangements for payment with patients prior to providing services. This includes discussing coverage and fees, especially for optional and non-covered services, so that patients fully understand what their financial obligations are.
  • Discontinue relationships with patients who don’t make reasonable efforts to pay.
  • Write out a fraud policy, including examples. Make sure that your office staff has read and signed this policy.
  • Divide the tasks related to processing payments among multiple staff members. For example, have one person accept payments and another make the adjustments in patient records.
  • As a dentist or practice owner, review the claims your practice submits. Claims are considered to be legal documents submitted with your authorization. The dentist listed is legally responsible for the accuracy and honesty of a claim, even if an office manager or other staff member submits the claim.

Here are some things you can do every month to help fight fraud.

  • Mail monthly reminders to patients of their balances and minimums due.
  • Forward large uncollectable balances to a professional collections agency.
  • Review collection and production reports each month. Make sure your bank statement and your office records agree.
  • Check the percentages on your monthly profit and loss records, as well as any year-over-year changes. For example, if supplies cost about 8% of your income a year ago and you’re spending 10% this year, find out why.

What Delta Dental does to help prevent fraud

You don’t have to combat fraud on your own. We’re proud to be your partners in working to eliminate fraud at all levels and steps of the dental care process. What we do includes:

  • Educate our clients, members, dentists and employees about fraud detection and prevention
  • Conduct clinical patient examinations to ensure that provided services meet professional standards and were correctly submitted
  • Review financial and treatment records to ensure contracts are followed
  • Report potential cases to state and federal law enforcement and cooperate with fraud investigations
  • Pursue the recovery of funds when fraud is suspected
  • Terminate contracts when fraud is confirmed

If you suspect someone is committing fraud, report it. Call Delta Dental’s Anti-Fraud Hotline at 800-526-1852. You may remain anonymous during this call.

By making sure that you and your staff stay on top of the law, having understandable and consistent policies and maintaining good relationships with paying patients, you can help keep your practice in the green and trouble-free.

Don’t miss the deadline for PPP loan forgiveness

Did your practice get a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)? The deadline to apply for forgiveness is fast approaching. Without forgiveness, your loan will become permanent, and you’ll be responsible for payments and interest.

PPP loans automatically convert to standard 1% interest loans if you don’t apply for forgiveness within 10 months of the covered period for spending the money.

If you applied when the program launched in April last year, your deadline falls in mid-July. If your loan had a 24-week covered period, your deadline will be in September.

Your business is eligible for full loan forgiveness if you met the program’s criteria such as maintaining employment and compensation levels and spending at least 60% of loan funds on payroll expenses. For more on applying for forgiveness, review the terms and instructions from the Small Business Administration.

DentaQual ratings update

This spring, DentaQual ratings were added to dentist directory listings. The program introduction was positively received and we are sharing a national announcement to broaden the understanding of the system as it is rolled out to more listings. In preparation for these changes, you can learn more about how DentaQual works, how it can help your practice and how ratings are developed.

Positioned for success: workplace ergonomics in the dental office

Imagine you’re in the middle of a clinical procedure. Are your neck and upper back straining as you try to get a better view? Are your hands and wrists clenched and tense? Are your legs dangling or crossed? If you answered “yes,” you’re not alone.

Many people struggle to maintain good posture throughout the day. Unfortunately, bad posture can contribute to the development of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) like carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis and muscle strain. For dentists and other dental professionals, MSDs are the leading cause for early retirement. At least 62% of dentists report one musculoskeletal complaint, with the most prevalent areas of pain being in the lower back and neck.

The good news is that you don’t need to accept pain as a part of your job. With proper ergonomics, you can identify and address work-related pain.

What is ergonomics?

Ergonomics is a philosophy that promotes designing workplaces to fit human needs so workers don’t need to strain to perform their jobs. The goal is to make you more efficient without compromising your safety. You can do this by maintaining a neutral position as much as possible and limiting tasks that cause strain. That means setting up workstations so everything you need is in reach or using special equipment, like footrests, to maintain a 90-degree bend in the knee.

Equipment can’t do all the work, though. State-of-the-art tools and gadgets should be paired with good posture to prevent potential MSDs. Practicing good posture is also the cheapest and quickest way to begin an ergonomic program.

What does good posture look like?

Unfortunately, careers in oral health are rife with opportunities to slouch and strain. To prevent MSDs, take note of these tips for good posture.

  • Spinal alignment. Maintain an erect, neutral spine instead of bending forward or leaning over the patient.
  • Proximity. Move your stool as close as possible to the patient’s head to minimize the need to overextend your arms or back.
  • Position. Keep your feet flat on the floor or the footrest of your stool. Adjust your stool height so your thighs slope slightly downward. Sit, rather than stand, for all clinical procedures. Hold your wrists in a neutral position and minimize wrist movement.
  • Weight distribution. Evenly distribute your weight in a tripod pattern, through each foot on the floor and your stool.
  • Equipment. Consider using a loupe to minimize the need to perch on the edge of your stool to see. If your overhead light is too dim or casts too many shadows, consider a head-mounted light as an alternative. Avoid gripping instruments tightly.
  • Stretching. When possible, take 10 minutes to get up and stretch your spine, arms and legs. Stretching during and after work can help relax strained muscles.
  • Exercise. Some poor posture habits begin with a weak core. Your core muscles act as a brace to your lower back when engaged, but using them all day can be exhausting. Train your core to make it easier to maintain good posture.

With tight schedules and productivity quotas, it can be difficult to prioritize time-consuming tasks like re-positioning patients. If you can’t eliminate strain, reducing it is still helpful. One easy way to reduce strain is to have your patients scoot to the end of the headrest once the chair is reclined. Eliminating those few inches between the top of their head and the top of the headrest shrinks the space for you to lean over.

The ergonomic office

For practice owners, investing in ergonomic training and supporting healthy practices has long-term benefits like preventing unwanted retirement, reducing canceled appointments and lessening the need for disability leave.

Ultimately, though, these suggestions are just the beginning. Most dental tools were developed with an average male dentist in mind, which may put people with smaller builds at a disadvantage. With ergonomics, there isn’t one solution to address every problem. You need to consider your and your team’s individual needs.

When implementing changes, remember to include the whole office. Your practice manager and front desk assistants also have ergonomic needs like monitor positioning and desk height. Encourage your team to communicate when they’re struggling with strain so that issues can be addressed early on. Approve time off to visit the doctor when needed. 

Even small changes can have a huge impact towards becoming an ergonomically healthy practice.

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2021 FYI

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑