FYI

Dentist blog from Delta Dental

Category: Delta Dental news (Page 1 of 13)

Stay up to date on the latest news from Delta Dental.

A program to ease the dental assistant shortage

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic effect on the workforce, especially in the dental industry. A shortage of qualified employees, particularly dental assistants, has made finding and hiring dental office staff a daunting task. A recent survey found that while almost 40% of dentists were actively seeking dental assistants, more than 85% of them reported the process to be either “extremely” or “very” challenging.

In an effort to support the dental industry and create employment opportunities, Delta Dental has partnered with the California Dental Association (CDA) and California Labor and Workforce Development Agency on the initiative Community Care Foundation to create Smile Crew CA.

What is Smile Crew CA?

Smile Crew CA is a statewide California program launched to provide residents, particularly those who lost jobs during the pandemic, with new employment opportunities as dental assistants. The program offers the opportunity to learn necessary skills for a dental assisting career, including dental terminology, HIPAA compliance and infection control protocols, as well as required certifications.

How Smile Crew CA works

The four-week training combines an online self-led learning module and classroom instruction with on-the-job training, and it offers up 160 hours of paid work experience. The program includes:

  • 15 hours per week of in-classroom instruction
  • 8-12 hours per week of shadowing in a dental practice
  • Interview preparation
  • Onboarding and offboarding assistance
  • A certificate of completion

No previous experience is required. To be eligible, applicants must be 18 years of age or older, have a high school diploma or GED, be literate in English and eligible to work in the United States.

How Smile Crew CA is helping

To date, nearly 80 participants have completed the program, and all have either been placed in open positions in dental offices for on-the-job training or are completing their externships before placement.

Smile Crew CA is a win-win for both dentists and the community, said Kevin Ryan, Delta Dental’s Director of Foundation and Corporate Social Responsibility.

“By getting people back to work in good, high-paying jobs in health care, we can do social good by building up the oral health infrastructure of the state of California,” Ryan said. “But in addition, we can give providers what they really need right now, which is qualified, trained and certified registered dental assistants.”

Ryan added that Smile Crew CA is just one part of an ongoing effort by Delta Dental to increase access to care across the state of California.

“We want to increase access to care in every conceivable way,” Ryan said. “Expanding quality oral health care is our purpose.”

Meet Jamie Clarke, VP of Network Development

Ask Jamie Clarke, and she’ll tell you she grew up in the health insurance industry. “My first career was at a health insurer, and I really loved it.”

Now Delta Dental’s Vice President of Network Development, Jamie Clarke first entered health care with a focus on building out provider networks and ensuring access to care. She found the work rewarding and spent years developing robust provider networks across the country.

Before joining Delta Dental, Jamie served as Chief Value Officer at a Nemours Children’s Health, a pediatric hospital in Delaware. It was there that she came to fully appreciate providing care and delivering positive outcomes.

“I was accountable for keeping kids healthy,” she said, “and that experience was transformative for me.”

Strong networks mean consistent access to care

Jamie leads a team focused on building out Delta Dental’s multiple networks, from Delta Dental PPO™ and DeltaCare® USA to Medicare Advantage and the Community Care Network.

“A day in the life for me is ensuring that we’re building and maintaining our networks so members have access to care,” Jamie said.

Wherever there are patients looking for care, Jamie’s team ensures there’s a network of dentists available to treat them.

An easier, more modern dentist experience

Now Jamie is turning that dedication for members towards dentists. High on her list of priorities is solving operational opportunities like the onboarding process, claims and grievances.

“We know that dentists are extremely busy caring for patients and dealing with multiple insurance carriers,” Jamie said, “so we’re striving to create frictionless, positive experiences for them.”

One way to create those experiences is with efficient technology.

“We still have a lot of paper communications and get a lot of phone calls,” Jamie said. “Resources like our online Provider Tools and electronic claims filing make it easy for providers to get answers and get paid quickly.”

Transparency is also essential.

“We want to be clear about what providers can expect from us and what we need from them to help them succeed,” Jamie said.

That’s why Delta Dental is ramping up educational opportunities and resources, from webinars and articles to continuing education courses, to offer dentists and their staff valuable tools and information.

A two-way partnership

When it comes to dental insurance, dentists are key. A strong network allows patients to get the care they need. But partnering with Delta Dental brings value to dentists, too.

“We have a large and diverse patient base,” Jamie said, “and because our benefits are structured to encourage members to stay in network, dentists can expect loyalty from their patients.”

Jamie’s No. 1 priority is ensuring that Delta Dental dentists feel heard and respected.

“When a provider gets in touch with us, we want them to feel like there’s a real person on the other side of the interaction,” she said. “They’re not just being shuffled through a queue.”

The challenges of COVID-19

The pandemic has created new difficulties for dental offices across the country. Many dentists during the COVID-19 pandemic made the difficult decision to retire or close their practice because of the economic challenges, Jamie said. Staffing challenges have also been magnified.

When the pandemic began, Jamie was working at the children’s hospital, where she saw firsthand the difficulties of providing care.

“We had to work even harder to seek positive results,” Jamie said. “We set up outdoor tents to see patients and were trying to figure out creative ways to keep children healthy.”

The dental industry is still reeling from the pandemic, but Delta Dental is here to support dentists through the challenges, Jamie said.

“Call us,” she said. “We’ll listen. We care, and we want to partner together to provide exceptional care to patients.”

Medicare Advantage DHMO updates for 2022

It’s a new year, and that means there’s a new crop of partners joining Medicare Advantage. If you’re part of Delta Dental’s Medicare Advantage DHMO network, members of these groups with a Delta Dental Medicare Advantage DHMO plan can choose your practice as their primary care facility. If you don’t currently participate in this network, we still encourage you to review the following information.

Here’s a quick look at the new Medicare Advantage DHMO partners for 2022.

Additionally, the following Medicare Advantage partnerships are continuing in 2022. Some partners are making changes that may affect the coverage available to your patients. For partners who are updating their benefits, be sure to use Provider Tools to see details!

  • Central Health Medicare Plan in California has expanded to San Mateo County and enhanced their benefits for all divisions.
  • WellCare in California’s Orange and San Diego coverage is continuing DHMO coverage for its members.
  • SCAN Health Plan is expanding to San Mateo and Alameda counties in California.
  • Kaiser California Medicare is adding a new diagnostic and preventive benefit in California counties.
  • Kaiser Georgia Medicare is enhancing benefits and expanding to Newton, Rockdale, Spalding, Walton, Barrow and Butts counties in Georgia.
  • Stanford Healthcare Advantage in California is updating its website but making no changes to its DHMO offering at this time.

Nearly a million members nationwide have access to a Medicare Advantage plan through Delta Dental, and every day for the next decade, about 10,000 Americans will turn 65. By 2030, approximately 18% of the nation’s population will be 65 or older. Joining the Medicare Advantage DHMO network represents an incredible opportunity to expand your business by serving this growing market!

By joining the Medicare Advantage DHMO network, you’ll enjoy the following benefits:

  • Your practice will be listed in our Medicare Advantage network directory.
  • You’ll retain patients who are joining a Medicare Advantage plan. Their DHMO plans require that they visit Medicare Advantage network dentists.
  • You’ll grow your business with new Medicare Advantage patients looking for an in-network dentist.

Interested? To apply for participation in the Delta Dental Medicare Advantage DHMO network, please email medadv@delta.org. We’ll send you an application and contract.

Go green with paperless EOBs

If you’re enrolled in direct deposit payments, you’ll now receive electronic explanations of benefits (EOBs) instead of paper. This change is part of our effort to reduce our environmental footprint.

How will this affect me?

If you currently receive payments via direct deposit (also known as electronic funds transfers, or EFT), you’ll no longer receive paper EOBs in the mail. If you plan to sign up for direct deposit, you’ll automatically be switched to paperless EOBs once you do.

To view your paperless EOBs, just log in to your Provider Tools account. You can view, print and download all available documents.

Is there any action I need to take at this time?

No action is required at this time. This change went into effect on January 21.

Why should I sign up for direct deposit?

Enrolling in direct deposit is the fastest, easiest and safest way to receive payments. With direct deposit:

  • Your money is deposited directly to the bank account of your choice.
  • Funds are available sooner than with paper checks.
  • There’s no risk of postal delays or missing checks.

How do I sign up for direct deposit payments?

Just log in to your online account to sign up for direct deposits. If you don’t already have an account, you can register quickly and easily.

Information is at your patients’ fingertips with Delta Dental’s wellness library

Here’s a great new way to help your patients stay informed about oral health and wellness. Delta Dental’s refreshed wellness library features updated articles, colorful images, informative videos and loads of information about oral health.

When will my baby’s teeth fall out? How can I get my teenager to take care of his braces? Why do my teeth hurt when it’s cold outside?

Your patients can now find answers to their most frequently asked questions in Delta Dental’s wellness library. The site is mobile-responsive and accessible, with articles that are straightforward, easy to understand and backed by the latest research. 

Find sections on:

Your patients will learn about the crucial link between oral health and overall well-being, with articles exploring the relationship between oral health and various medical conditions and explaining the best habits for lifelong wellness.

Readers can even expand their cooking repertoire with a host of dentist-approved recipes for the whole family in our recipe section. Find ideas for tasty and healthy dishes like a warming pumpkin soup, homemade banana nut muffins or garlic mashed sweet potatoes.

Those on special diets can explore recipes tailored to their needs with special sections listing recipes that are dairy-free, diabetic-friendly, gluten-free, vegan or vegetarian.

Your patients now have instant access to an abundance of oral health information through Delta Dental’s wellness library. Please feel free to share articles from the wellness library on social media to help us get the word out, and send any feedback or ideas for articles you’d especially like to see to Delta Dental at blogs@delta.org.

Medicare Advantage PPO updates for 2022

It’s a new year, and that means there’s a new crop of partners joining Medicare Advantage. If you’re part of Delta Dental’s Medicare Advantage PPO network, you can see the members of these groups. And if you haven’t opted in, consider this: every year for the next decade, about 10,000 Americans will turn 65. By 2030, approximately 18% of the nation’s population will be 65 or older. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to expand your business by serving this growing market!

Here’s a quick look at the groups joining us for the first time and updating their plans this year.

  • Alignment Health Plan is a new group with approximately 2,500 members in northern and southern California. Members who choose expanded dental coverage can access the Delta Dental Medicare Advantage PPO network.
  • Aspire Health Plan is backed by Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula and Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System, bringing coverage to Monterey County in California. Beginning in 2022, certain diagnostic and preventive care benefits will be covered at 100%.
  • CDPHP Medicare serves the Capital Region in New York. In 2022, CDPHP will be expanding to St. Lawrence, Lewis and Jefferson counties.
  • CHRISTUS Health Plan offers Medicare Advantage dental coverage in the state of Texas and select areas of New Mexico.
  • Essence Healthcare serves members in the San Francisco Bay Area. Essence Healthcare was previously known as Stanford Healthcare Advantage.
  • Health Choice Utah offers coverage in all counties throughout the state of Utah.
  • Some Molina Healthcare states are moving outside of our network. In 2022, Delta Dental will be partnered with Molina Healthcare in California, Florida, Michigan, Texas and Wisconsin.
  • Select Health Advantage is available in Nevada in Clark and Nye counties.

Nearly a million members nationwide have access to a Medicare Advantage plan through Delta Dental. By joining the Medicare Advantage PPO network, you’ll enjoy the following benefits:

  • Your practice will be listed in our Medicare Advantage network directory
  • You’ll retain patients who are joining a Medicare Advantage plan. Their fee-for-service plans require that they visit Medicare Advantage network dentists.
  • You’ll grow your business with new Medicare Advantage patients looking for an in-network dentist.

Interested? To apply for participation in the Delta Dental Medicare Advantage PPO network, please email medadv@delta.org. We’ll send you an application and contract.

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