Cliff's Notes

The Business of Dentistry

I See a Bad Moon Rising!

Cliff’s Notes for August 30, 2015

Cliff Marsh, Henry Schein ……Cell: 201-321-7494……Fax: 201-262-2210


 “When the rain comes, they run and hide their heads”

John Lennon—1966


Wow! What a great song line in that title. So now let me give you another one, Bob Dylan, “Come in and let me give you shelter from the storm.” Yes there is a storm and it’s rolling in! Do you have your shelter prepared?

Just recently China’s stock market crashed. The middle east is in chaos and some say our government is out of control. Well I express my concerns of those issues at the voting booth but running a dental practice in the 21st century is like guiding a ship though bad weather, you need to be alert and and aware of your  Surroundings.

In reality, the storm has been coming for a while but many dentists don’t want to acknowledge those gathering dark clouds. Instead they choose to hover under the umbrella of the past. I see so many clients hide behind their “standards” when the standards are changing. Or maybe it’s the change they are hiding from.

The big change is the Risk Management Program that you currently have in place, assuming you have a risk management program. With the rapid advancement of diagnostic and information technologies, your program needs to cover everything that could adversely effect operations. Your software needs to be encrypted according to HIPPA guidelines and you need to consider implementing a Patient Refusal of Treatment From. That’s right, if you recommend treatment, explain all the pro’s & con’s and the patient refuses, unless the patient signs a PRT form you could be held liable for malpractice. It becomes a he said she said and you know how that usually ends.

How about the risk of NOT utilizing new technology for diagnosis? Imagine one day you get a letter from a personal injury attorney informing you that a patient you haven’t seen in 2 years, because their insurance changed, is suing you for Malpractice because they developed Oral Cancer. Your defense is that you followed and documented all exams in accordance with ADA recommendations. The word that just killed you is “recommendations”. The plaintiff’ will ask you to confirm that the visual exam is (in most cases) a late stage diagnosis. They will then ask you if there is technology available to diagnose abnormalities in the early stages and if so, why don’t you utilize it or refer to diagnostic center that does. In reality your malpractice insurance carrier will defend or settle it, but it will still cost you a lot of money, think 6 figures!

Developing a risk management program is not that easy. You need to identify all areas of vulnerability and create a safety net for each. You will need professional help. The people that are knowledgeable about healthcare software security are not knowledgeable about employee management, regulatory compliance, malpractice, etc. You need a healthcare risk management specialist.

Risk management is part of running a business. The question is how much risk are you willing to take. Please feel free to contact me at any time to discuss any concerns but you may want to start with your legal advisor and insurance carrier.

Total Health

August 30, 2015 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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