DSOs, Dental Providers and Insurance News

Marquee Dental acquires practice in Alabama

Marquee Dental Partners (Nashville, TN) announced it has acquired Dr. R. Scott Gamble, Cosmetic and Family Dentistry. Dr. Gamble has practiced in the Dothan, Alabama community for over 15 years. This partnership enables him to focus on serving his loyal patients and the growing number of new patients seeking his services, Marquee said.

MB2 Dental opens 200th practice

MB2 Dental (Carrollton, TX) announced that it has added three new partners and expanded into Connecticut. The new additions bring MB2’s office count to 200 practices across 13 states in the U.S. New MB2 Doctor Owner, Dr. Glenn Vo was the official 200th practice and is also known for his dental discounts website, Nifty Thrifty Dentists, a resource for dental professionals, along with his Nifty Thrifty podcast and Facebook group where he interviews fellow dentists and industry experts.

Pankey Institute names Brady president, CEO

The Pankey Institute promoted Lee Ann Brady, DMD, to the role of president and CEO. Brady was the Pankey Institute’s first female resident faculty member and later was promoted to clinical director. She will continue in her role as director of education while serving as president and CEO.

Bellevue Orthodontics launches same-day clear aligners using 3D printing

Bellevue Orthodontics (Bellevue, WA) announced that its patients can now get clear aligners for teeth-straightening on their first appointment. Patients have access to fully customized clear aligners such as “Movement Aligners” and customized product packaging.

Marquee Dental Partners solidifies growth through refinance

Marquee Dental Partners (Nashville, TN) recently refinanced its existing credit facility, securing a commitment from Crestline Investors, Inc. (Fort Worth, TX) to support its ongoing growth initiatives. The new structure provided capital support in Marquee’s close of seven recent acquisitions in 2019. The company says the funds will further be used for additional acquisitions, de novos, and general corporate operating expenses. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Aspen Dental signs deal for new lease in Chicago, will expand workforce

Aspen Dental Management (Syracuse, NY) has signed a lease for roughly 200,000 square feet at a 19-story office building under construction at 800 W. Fulton Market (Chicago, IL). The deal also includes 8,000 square feet of retail space in the building. The new space will be a large expansion from the 50,000 square feet the company occupies nearby at 1040 W. Randolph St., where it opened an office in 2018.

Mayo announces pilot dental services for children

Mayo Clinic Health System (Mankato, MN) has announced a pilot project that will expand preventive dental services for children at Eastridge Clinic. The announcement coincided with National Children’s Dental Health Month in February. Funded through grants from Mankato Area Foundation and Delta Dental, several dental services are now being offered to children up to the age of 18, including oral exams, dental cleanings, X-rays and application of fluoride varnish and sealants. The expansion of services aims to help address the wide disparities in oral health care access for vulnerable and underserved populations.

Bright Now! Dental opens new office in Los Angeles

Smile Brands Inc. (Irvine, CA) announced the opening of another affiliated Bright Now! Dental office in Los Angeles, CA. The newest Bright Now! Dental office provides full-service general dentistry, as well as orthodontics, Invisalign, oral surgery, periodontics, endodontics, and implants. The office will be led by Dr. Jereme Berryhill.

ADA announces new SVP of operations

The American Dental Association (ADA) has promoted Robert Quashie to the role of SVP of operations. In his new role, he will oversee the ADA’s technology division, along with its member and client services division. The technology division enhances the association management systems, which support ADA and local dental strategy, while the member and client services division works to expand the organization’s membership. Prior to his promotion, Quashie was VP of business operations and strategy for the ADA.

Texas awards new contract to DentaQuest for Medicaid, CHIP

Texas’s state department of Health and Human Services recently awarded DentaQuest a contract to continue providing dental managed care to enrollees in Texas Medicaid and CHIP programs. DentaQuest has been a partner to the State of Texas since 2012, providing Medicaid and CHIP dental benefits and currently serves about 1.5 million Medicaid and 229,000 CHIP beneficiaries throughout the state. Operations for the new contract begin Sept. 1, 2020.

ADA amends religious diversity policy to be more inclusive

The American Dental Association (ADA) in an effort to advance it’s diversity and inclusion efforts, the ADA House of Delegates voted at its meeting in September to rescind the policy titled “The Dentist’s Prayer,” used by some state and local dental societies during their meetings, and amend its policy on recognition of religious diversity. The ADA Board of Trustees had charged its Diversity and Inclusion Committee with considering the role of faith and religion in the Association, as well as The Dentist’s Prayer, following a House vote in 2018 referring the prayer for further study and report. In amending the recognition of religious diversity policy, the House resolved that Association meetings may begin with “a personal moment of reflection or silent prayer.”

Market Research and Trends

National study finds dental practices do poor job of using internet marketing resources

New research released through DMscore indicates significant performance gaps in digital marketing execution for dental practices, despite billions of dollars in marketing spend. Digital continues to be under-utilized throughout SMB professional marketing channels, including paid search advertising like Google Adwords, directory presence like Yelp and search engine optimization (SEO). The recent DMscore study reveals that few dentists optimize their practice’s marketing efforts. For example:

  • Nationwide, 71% of dentists have a Yelp profile, but 20% of the profiles are “unclaimed” by the practice, and
  • Over 33% of dental sites had poor organic search results, resulting in lower visibility and business loss.

“Root Canal” listed as most searched-for procedure on cost-compare website

Healthcare cost transparency website, FAIR Health Consumer, has released year-end statistics for 2019 that shed light on how a healthcare cost transparency site can attract a broad range of users as well as results on what medical and dental procedures site users were most interested in looking up. The site includes medical and dental cost-lookup tools that it says allow users to search for typical costs of healthcare procedures in their geographic areas. For both last year and 2018, the top five dental terms searched for with FAIR Health Consumer’s medical cost lookup tool were:

  • Root canal
  • Crown
  • Orthodontic
  • Cleaning
  • Implant

Sale of .org domains could have big impact on healthcare

The Internet Society in November announced its intent to sell control of all .org domains to private equity firm Ethos Capital for $1.1 billion. The sale and its implications have generated outrage and worry among .org users – including the many healthcare nonprofit organizations that would be affected.

Since 2002, domains ending in .org have been purchased through an agency called the Public Interest Registry, which is owned by the Internet Society, a well-regarded nonprofit working to expand access to the internet across the world. One worry of the proposed sale is that Ethos, to make the .org top-level domain as profitable as possible, will rapidly raise prices for its customers.

Currently, .org is an open domain, so anyone can register a .org domain, and there are more than 10 million registered worldwide. But the Public Internet Registry has the authority to suspend domain names for illegal activity, and one of the concerns raised in a public letter opposing the sale is the potential for governments to target NGOs by accusing them of illegal activity and pressuring the Public Internet Registry to take down their domains. This could have serious implications for the many healthcare nonprofits who use .org addresses.

Large number of Americans willing to go out of country to get lower cost care

One-fifth of people enrolled in a health insurance plan are willing to travel outside of the U.S. for care, with 60% of them already having done so for dental treatment. A recent survey has found that nearly 20% of Americans enrolled in a health insurance plan are willing to travel outside the U.S. for care – and that nearly 60% of them have already done so. Nearly 74% of respondents cited the possibility of lower costs as the reason for their willingness to travel. A total of 1,860 responses were tabulated in a voluntary survey of eHealth consumers who purchased Medicare plans or individual and family plans under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

U.S. Government and Regulatory Trends

U.S. Congress members write letter to FDA, FTC regarding SmileDirectClub

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) (St. Louis, MO) announced that, on Jan. 6, nine members of the U.S. House of Representatives authored a letter to the FDA and FTC “to express concern regarding SmileDirectClub.” Additionally, the Congressmen expressed their “strong support of the FDA and FTC investigating the practices of SmileDirectClub to ensure that it is not misleading consumers or causing patient harm.”

Maine considering bill to abolish insurance waiting periods for children

Members of Maine’s state legislature’s Committee on Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Services have discussed an issue brought up by pediatric dentists around the state. Many of the dentists say they’ve had children whose dental care had to be delayed because of insurance waiting periods. A new proposed bill (LD 1975) would abolish insurance waiting periods for anyone under the age of 19, with an exception for orthodontic care.

Lack of access to dental care causing oral health epidemic in Oregon

Oregon is facing a dental health epidemic, and a lack of access to care is at the root of the problem for many children, rural residents and low-income families. Legislators will consider improving access to education and services in schools, as well as creating licensing for a new type of practitioner who can complete many of the same tasks as a dentist, but at a lower cost.

In the House, the Oregon Community Foundation has partnered with state Rep. Cedric Hayden (R-Roseburg) and Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer (D-Portland) to pass the “Healthy Teeth, Bright Futures” campaign. The program would direct Oregon school districts to include age-appropriate dental health instruction as part of their health education.