With the start of a new year, a lot of people try to take the opportunity to get their lives – or teeth – in order. But it’s no secret that the logistics of dental work – the discounts, the appointments, the bills – can be overwhelmingly confusing at times. To be of assistance, we want to give you a “heads up” of some anticipated changes in the world of health and dentistry for 2016.
1. ADA Code Changes for Dental Procedures
On January 1, 2016, thirty-nine ADA dental procedure codes were changed, and nineteen new codes were added. Along with those changes, there were eight codes that have been deleted and are no longer in use. This is important for both dentists and consumers to know.
2. Obamacare Updates
Under Obamacare (also known as the Affordable Care Act, or ACA), insurers that are planning to increase plan premiums will be required to submit the new rates to state or federal government for review. If the rate hike is less than 10%, the insurers will not need to have their rates reviewed.
Click here to view a list of the rate hikes in 2016.
The 80/20 Rule
To keep premium rates from increasing in the future, the Medical Loss Ratio (or 80/20 Rule) has been put in place. This rule is meant to restrict what insurance companies can spend your premiums on – requiring them to pay at least 80% of the income on your health care, as well as quality improvement activities. This means that at least 80% of your money will not be spent on administrative, overhead or marketing costs. Companies that sell to bigger groups must spend at least 85% of the premiums.
To read more on the 80/20 Rule, take a look at this article.
3. Dental Technology for 2016
While we still don’t have hover-boards like Marty McFly thought, the technology of 2016 is expected to be more innovative than ever before. Included in the newest technologies are the items listed below.
The Smart Toothbrush
With the accelerated development of smart technologies – phones, televisions, watches – why not add “toothbrushes” to that list? More and more oral hygiene products are being produced to connect with your phone or tablet to update you on how well you brush your teeth, as well as entertain you while you do so. Read the details on a few smart toothbrushes in our last post, What You Need to Know About the Smart Toothbrush in 2016.
Electrically Accelerated and Enhanced Remineralization (EAER)
Every tooth is covered in a protective layer called enamel. When a tooth starts to decay, the enamel wears down and eventually the decay penetrates deeper, causing a cavity. Remineralization is the process of minerals being returned to the molecular structure of the tooth itself. Oftentimes fluoride is used to promote remineralization, but a filling is usually needed to fully heal a cavity. Now, however, a new technology is being developed that uses electrical currents to drive natural minerals back into the effected tooth – effectively healing minor cavities. Researchers say that this process should be virtually painless, as opposed to the more common drilling option. This cutting-edge technology is expected to come to dental offices within the next 3 years.
Crushed Bioactive Glass Fillings
At Oregon State University, engineers have been researching the elements of bioactive glass (a type of crushed glass) in order to develop it for dental use. The glass has been used for medical purposes before, but it is now being looked at as a possible option for tooth fillings. Why? Not only is the material extremely strong and long-lasting, it has components that apparently fight the same kind of bacteria that cause cavities. As this research continues, this bioactive glass may become the best option for tooth-fillings in later years.
Electronic Health Records
The EHR (Electric Health Records) technology has actually been around for a few years, but is becoming more prominent as time continues. Essentially, this technology allows patient information to be automated (electronically recorded) and consolidated. It keeps information such as the patient’s records, medical history, progress reports and more. This has been extremely helpful in the medical world to keep a personalized report for each patient with any necessary information in one spot.
In April of this year, there will be a Dental Technology Showcase featuring more upcoming developments in the dental world.
4. Dental Care Projections for 2016
Apex360, an eNewsletter, collected insights from the members of their Editorial Advisory Board about the dental industry advances in 2015. Each member was also asked what changes they were predicting in 2016.
Trends from 2015:
- Patients put more emphasis and value on their in-office experience at a dental visit.
- Dentists and dentistry as a whole has been more recognized as a vital part in solving sleep breathing problems.
- Technologically, the dental industry has gained more and more use of the cloud.
- There has been an increase in the growth of corporate dental practices. This is expected to continue well into the coming year.
Predictions for 2016:
- Patient demands will increase, including people looking for convenience in their dental experiences – both in the office and at home.
- Technology will expand and present new equipment and opportunities for the world of oral health as well as allowing dentists to meet the demands of patients.
- Dentists will be able to use their oral health expertise to contribute not only to the dental industry, but also the medical industry as a whole.
- Dental Support Organizations (DSOs) will continue to grow and drive acquisition.
- Dentists will need to digitize their marketing by taking advantage of social media. This “inbound marketing” can help dentists reach more and more people locally, as the amount of time people spend online will only grow.
- It is expected that there will be significant changes in dental insurance policies.
As 2016 continues, we are excited to see what developments are made industry-wide.
5. The Increase of Corporate Dental Practice
As stated above, many sources expect the growth of Dental Support Organizations and corporate practices in 2016. Take a look at the definitions of the different forms of dental practices below. (Definitions provided by dentaleconomics.com).
- Traditional: Dentist owns and manages practice, provides clinical care.
- Dental Management Service Organization (DMSO): Dentist owns practice and provides clinical care; a service organization provides management.
- Corporate: Dentist provides clinical care with corporate ownership and management.
- Nonprofit: Ownership by government agency or educational institution; dental care is provided by employees, students and faculty.
There are two aspects that will fuel the growth of corporate dental practices. First of all, many dentists of the baby-boomer era have begun to retire. This means they are looking to sell their practice, and of the most feasible options include selling to corporate entities. Why? Because although a large amount of dental or dental hygiene students are graduating, they come away with a large amount of debt that hinders them from being able to buy from retiring dentists.
Furthermore, these corporate entities present a large amount of competition for private practices – primarily when it comes to pricing. These corporations provide the convenience of accepting walk-in patients, as well as the ability to accept government insurance. For these reasons, it is expected that corporate dental practices or DMSOs will become increasingly favored.
With all of the updates for 2016, we hope this article was of help to you as you attempt to get everything settled for this year. Which piece of information was most helpful to you? Let us know in the comments below.