Thursday, September 17, 2020

MEDITECH Launches Expanse Virtual Assistant through Strategic Conversational AI Collaboration with Nuance

 



It's starting to look like the promise of the past is starting to take shape in the now.  In the very early 2000s many of us who were pushing for tech expansion into the healthcare sector were dreaming dreams of efficiency brought on by powerful graphic user interfaces combined with powerful processors.  For those of you who have been around for a while, you probably remember the tech trade show Comdex that was help every fall in Las Vegas (it's now been supplanted by CES).  One year, during its peak time, Comdex was displaying several voice dictation systems that a lot of us were hoping would make the keyboard a bit of a "not so needed" accessory in the near future.

Unfortunately that plan didn't work out like I had hoped it would.  For many reasons, voice dictation didn't take off the way I had hoped.  Then around the time of the iPhone 4 we began to hear more about Siri and then voice just "exploded" onto the scene.  Now we are using it for all kinds of things.

Now comes word of a leap forward in EHR use which sounds pretty exciting.  The only concern that i would have on this is HIPAA security.  The user would need to make sure they cannot be overheard.  Here is the info:


BURLINGTON, Mass. & WESTWOOD, Mass.--()--MEDITECH and Nuance Communications Inc. (Nuance®) are re-imagining the way physicians interact with their Expanse EHR by introducing intuitive voice-driven navigation. Built upon the leading Nuance Dragon® Medical solution already used by more than 550,000 physicians, the companies have partnered to launch the MEDITECH Expanse Virtual Assistant. Nuance’s deeply embedded virtual assistant technology and sophisticated conversational AI dialogue and skills will enable physicians to navigate their EHR hands-free and transform the way they practice and provide care. By simplifying routine tasks, physicians can save steps and time, freeing them up to focus on direct patient care.

“MEDITECH continues to drive the industry forward by providing solutions that improve efficiency and reshape the patient experience,” said MEDITECH Executive Vice President Helen Waters. “In partnership with Nuance, Virtual Assistant technology represents another leap forward in usability and efficiency, ushering in a new era of digital transformation. Physicians can simply ask for what they need from their Expanse EHR and get it.”

Using simple voice commands, physicians can leverage Expanse Virtual Assistant to navigate and search patient charts for key areas of information including lab results, medications, allergies, radiology images, and more. Users can simply ask ‘Ok, MEDITECH, when was the last EKG?’ It is a powerful tool that allows physicians to directly engage with their patients and quickly access and review key EHR data and images together.

The COVID-19 pandemic has furthered the demand for touchless technology as healthcare providers are asked to limit the physical touching of objects such as keyboards, phones, and screens. But this benefit extends well beyond the current pandemic. For example, in surgical settings, physicians can use the Expanse Virtual Assistant to access information without having to leave the sterile field in the operating room.

“Conversational AI is essential for eliminating the barriers to positive physician-patient interactions, reducing administrative burdens on clinicians and empowering providers to keep patients and successful healthcare outcomes their priority,” said Peter Durlach, Senior Vice President of Strategy and New Business Development, Nuance Healthcare. “We are very excited to expand our decades long strategic partnership with MEDITECH and deliver this cutting-edge technology to Expanse. Our shared goal is to improve efficiency and increase clinician satisfaction for those who take care of all of us, and enhance the overall provider-patient experience.”

To learn more about the MEDITECH Expanse Virtual Assistant, click here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

IBM Study Finds that Data Breaches in Healthcare are the Most Expensive

 


Data breaches are expensive.  There is no way around that fact.  They are labor intensive and sometimes can even include upgrading and/or replacing hardware that is either outdated or crippled by an attack.  No matter what sector of business you are in, Ransomware or a breach that results in theft of data is expensive to weather and expensive to cleanup.

However, the Healthcare sector has some unique aspects to it that can make data breaches even more expensive and some of those have to do with fines issued by government agencies.  Federal mandates such as HIPAA or other regulations from state or even local governments can increase the cost of a data breach astronomically for the entity involved.  

The recent release of IBM's annual Cost of a Data Breach report shows that the average business encounters costs of about $3.86 million for a data breach while a healthcare entity averages $7.13 million in expenditures.  This obviously is no small amount and the difference of $3.27 million between the two average expenditure amounts shows how financially dangerous a breach can be for a company in healthcare.

Now, some of the reasons for the greater costs are because governmental bodies feel the need to make companies understand how important it is to protect PHI (Protected Health Information).  That's because there is SO much valuable data inside of a person's health record.  practically every piece of demographic information is there.  Social Security Numbers, address, birth date, spouse, phone number, etc.  Stealing that information makes it very easy for criminals to fabricate new identities and use them to acquire goods, loans, you name it.  The value of a health record can easily be $50 each on the dark web.  That compares to single digits for verified credit cards.  So governments see a need to force healthcare companies to protect that data... and rightfully so.


Here is what some of the report has to say.  For the full report, follow this link.  


IBM (NYSE: IBM) Security today announced the results of its annual study examining the financial impact of data breaches on organizations. According to the report, the cost of a data breach has risen 12% over the past 5 years1 and now costs $3.92 million on average. These rising expenses are representative of the multiyear financial impact of breaches, increased regulation and the complex process of resolving criminal attacks.2

The financial consequences of a data breach can be particularly acute for small and midsize businesses. In the study, companies with less than 500 employees suffered losses of more than $2.5 million on average – a potentially crippling amount for small businesses, which typically earn $50 million or less in annual revenue.

For the first time this year, the report also examined the longtail financial impact of a data breach, finding that the effects of a data breach are felt for years. While an average of 67% of data breach costs were realized within the first year after a breach, 22% accrued in the second year and another 11% accumulated more than two years after a breach. The longtail costs were higher in the second and third years for organizations in highly-regulated environments, such as healthcare, financial services, energy and pharmaceuticals.

"Cybercrime represents big money for cybercriminals, and unfortunately that equates to significant losses for businesses," said Wendi Whitmore, Global Lead for IBM X-Force Incident Response and Intelligence Services. "With organizations facing the loss or theft of over 11.7 billion records in the past 3 years alone, companies need to be aware of the full financial impact that a data breach can have on their bottom line –and focus on how they can reduce these costs."

Sponsored by IBM Security and conducted by the Ponemon Institute, the annual Cost of a Data Breach Report is based on in-depth interviews with more than 500 companies around the world that suffered a breach over the past year.3 The analysis takes into account hundreds of cost factors including legal, regulatory and technical activities to loss of brand equity, customers, and employee productivity. Some of the top findings from this year's report include:

  • Malicious Breaches – Most Common, Most Expensive: Over 50% of data breaches in the study resulted from malicious cyberattacks and cost companies $1 million more on average than those originating from accidental causes.
  • "Mega Breaches" Lead to Mega Losses: While less common, breaches of more than 1 million records cost companies a projected $42 million in losses; and those of 50 million records are projected to cost companies $388 million.4
  • Practice Makes Perfect: Companies with an incident response team that also extensively tested their incident response plan experienced $1.23 million less in data breach costs on average than those that had neither measure in place.
  • U.S. Breaches Cost Double: The average cost of a breach in the U.S. is $8.19 million, more than double the worldwide average.
  • Healthcare Breaches Cost the Most: For the 9th year in a row, healthcare organizations had the highest cost of a breach – nearly $6.5 million on average (over 60% more than other industries in the study).

Malicious Breaches Pose a Growing Threat; Accidental Breaches Still Common
The study found that data breaches which originated from a malicious cyberattack were not only the most common root cause of a breach, but also the most expensive.

Malicious data breaches cost companies in the study $4.45 million on average  over $1 million more than those originating from accidental causes such as system glitch and human error. These breaches are a growing threat, as the percentage of malicious or criminal attacks as the root cause of data breaches in the report crept up from 42% to 51% over the past six years of the study (a 21% increase).

That said, inadvertent breaches from human error and system glitches were still the cause for nearly half (49%) of the data breaches in the report, costing companies $3.50 and $3.24 million respectively. These breaches from human and machine error represent an opportunity for improvement, which can be addressed through security awareness training for staff, technology investments, and testing services to identify accidental breaches early on. One particular area of concern is the misconfiguration of cloud servers, which contributed to the exposure of 990 million records in 2018, representing 43% of all lost records for the year according to the IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index5.

Breach Response Remains Biggest Cost Saver
For the past 14 years, the Ponemon Institute has examined factors that increase or reduce the cost of a breach and has found that the speed and efficiency at which a company responds to a breach has a significant impact on the overall cost.

This year's report found that the average lifecycle of a breach was 279 days with companies taking 206 days to first identify a breach after it occurs and an additional 73 days to contain the breach. However, companies in the study who were able to detect and contain a breach in less than 200 days spent $1.2 million less on the total cost of a breach.

A focus on incident response can help reduce the time it takes companies to respond, and the study found that these measures also had a direct correlation with overall costs. Having an incident response team in place and extensive testing of incident response plans were two of the top three greatest cost saving factors examined in the study. Companies that had both of these measures in place had $1.23 million less total costs for a data breach on average than those that had neither measure in place ($3.51 million vs. $4.74 million).

Additional factors impacting the cost of a breach for companies in the study included:

  • Number of compromised records: Data breaches cost companies around $150 per record that was lost or stolen.
  • Companies that fully deployed security automation technologies experienced around half the cost of a breach ($2.65 million average) compared to those that did not have these technologies deployed ($5.16 million average).
  • Extensive use of encryption was also a top cost saving factor, reducing the total cost of a breach by $360,000.
  • Breaches originating from a third party – such as a partner or supplier – cost companies $370,000 more than average, emphasizing the need for companies to closely vet the security of the companies they do business with, align security standards, and actively monitor third-party access.

Regional and Industry Trends
The study also examined the cost of data breaches in different industries and regions, finding that data breaches in the U.S. are vastly more expensive – costing $8.19 million, or more than double the average for worldwide companies in the study. Costs for data breaches in the U.S. increased by 130% over the past 14 years of the study; up from $3.54 million in the 2006 study.

Additionally, organizations in the Middle East reported the highest average number of breached records with nearly 40,000 breached records per incident (compared to global average of around 25,500.)

For the 9th year in a row, healthcare organizations in the study had the highest costs associated with data breaches. The average cost of a breach in the healthcare industry was nearly $6.5 million - over 60% higher than the cross-industry average.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Outside-the-Box Sterilization Monitoring

 





In the midst of stricter infection control protocols, autoclave monitoring is often overlooked. The TerraGene MiniBio and the 3M Attest can change that.

We’ve seen a lot of changes in the past 6 months. In some ways, it seems time truly flies, but with the next breath, you can hear yourself thinking, “Wait, that ‘just’ happened?”

This is a really strange time to be alive. In the short span of 6 months, we have seen our lives and our practices practically turned inside out. So many things have changed that I sometimes feel it’s almost too much to process.

A true story here: Last week, I met an acquaintance whom I had not seen since before the entire coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) catastrophe. He’s a gregarious “big” personality who just lights up any room he enters. He walked up to me and stuck out his hand. There was a brief moment where I just locked up, unsure of what to do. Then, I figured, “This is why we have hand sanitizer,” and I shook his hand. For those of you who know me, I’m a touchy-feely type, a hugger—but I hadn’t shaken a hand in more than 6 months. It felt creepy—the same kind of creepy I’d probably feel if I reached into a mouth without wearing gloves. Until I got back to my hand sanitizer, I was almost painfully aware of my right hand and what might be on it. I sure as heck didn’t get it near my face! As soon as I could, I slathered on hand sanitizer and then sat back to ponder how different this was from just March of this year.

For more than 30 years, dentistry has had an amazing infection control protocol. We have always been on the forefront of keeping our patients and our teams safe. And we ought to be doing these things. I would venture to guess that we probably perform more outpatient services that generate aerosols than any other profession in health care.

I am very proud of what we have done in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dentistry has taken huge steps in the last few months to ensure the safety of those we treat and those we employ. Just even walking into most offices now looks totally different than it did 6 months ago and that’s before you take into consideration the clinical changes we have implemented.

As Technology Evangelist, I’m always on the hunt for better, more efficient, and cost-effective ways to provide better outcomes for our patients and for our practices. One phrase never fails to elevate my blood pressure: “But we’ve always done it that way.” I’m a firm believer that better ways to do things are always waiting just over the horizon. All we have to do is find them.

In the situation we currently face, a great deal of time and treasure has been put toward our protocols for infection control. Our profession has implemented massive changes in our infection control processes and systems, many of which are devoted to decreasing the odds of cross-contamination.

I’d like to discuss, though, a part of the system many of us probably haven’t looked at closely in quite some time: monitoring our autoclaves. I think this is because autoclave use often happens where and when the doctor doesn’t really see the process, and it has become just another standard task that is usually done by a delegated dental assistant.

Currently, most offices are utilizing some type of “sterilization monitoring service.” Such a service works like this:

The monitoring company sells the office a supply of spore test strips. Of each set of 2, one strip is placed into the autoclave and processed in a normal sterilization cycle, while the other strip is not run and is used as the control. Upon completion of the sterilization cycle, the strip is removed from the autoclave and then both strips, properly identified as test and control, are sent to the testing facility.

Once the strips arrive there, both are placed in an environment where the spores they contain can be grown and are monitored. If the control strip shows growth and the test strip does not, the test is considered successful and all is well. However, if both show negative growth or, even worse, both show positive growth, the test is considered a fail.

With a failed test, the dental office must be notified right away. Once notification is received, the autoclave is immediately taken out of service. A second test is run. If this test shows success, the previous test is considered an aberration and all is well. However, if a second failure occurs, something is seriously wrong with the autoclave and it requires service by qualified personnel.

This testing system works, but the real problem is the amount of time involved. If the test results are sent by mail, several days can pass between a failed test and the office’s receipt of the notification. Also, if a second test is required, at least the same amount of time is “downtime” for the autoclave until a “pass” is received back.

Now what if there was a way for the office to know the results of these tests in less than half an hour? Would you be interested? I thought you would.

Two systems—the TerraGene MiniBio and the 3M Attest—have come to market and can do just that. These systems consist of an incubator and test-tube–like devices filled with spores and growing medium that are referred to as biologic indicators (BIs). I’ve been putting both systems through some clinical trials in my practice for well over a month.

In a manner similar to the spore strip test described above, an office takes one BI and marks it as “test” and another from the same box marked as “control.” The test BI is run in a normal cycle. After the cycle, the tube should cool for 10 minutes. Then (in both brands) you break the seals on 2 tubes that mix any spores that are present with a growth medium. Next, you place both tubes, containing the control and test strips, into the incubator. The incubator then warms the BIs and monitors the tubes for fluorescence, which indicates spore growth.

If the incubator detects growth, a fairly loud beeping alarm sounds and the well that contains the failed tube is identified. On the 3M Attest, the failure is shown by a lit-up “+” sign; on the TerraGene, it’s denoted by a red LED light.

Because there is always 1 tube (the control) that will test positive, the alarm will always go off. I think this is a good feature because it lets the user know the system is indeed working.

The TerraGene MiniBio has 3 wells, so it can test 2 autoclaves and the control simultaneously. Positive and negative results are indicated by green and red LEDs, and the device also contains a tiny printer. All results are printed on a thin strip of paper that can be saved for record-keeping purposes. The device definitely has a remarkable high-tech look, and even better, it runs the test cycle in an impressive 20 minutes.

The 3M Attest has 4 wells but lacks a printer. The LED indicators are built into the device’s side. In addition to “+” and “–” for pass and fail, these LEDs also show the time left in the test. This device runs a test in 24 minutes (versus the MiniBio’s 20), so you’ll see “24…23…22…” etc, to indicate the time remaining. 3M definitely went for a ‘less is more’ esthetic with this device.

Each device also has a USB connection that allows results to be downloaded to a computer that runs software created by each company. The office can then digitally monitor and record results for safe, effective long-term record-keeping.

As for costs—which we must consider—I find both of these products to be incredibly affordable for the peace of mind they deliver. My best current information is that each incubator sells for around $600. The BI tubes cost around $4 each for the MiniBio and $5 for the Attest.

The biggest plus is the speed at which you get the results. Gone is the era of waiting days for them. Now, you can run a test quickly and extremely accurately in your office, anytime you would like, and have those results in less than half an hour. Again, I’ve been using both devices for more than a month and have been very impressed with the performance of both.

In a world where we are trying as hard as possible to ensure the strength of our decontamination, protection, and sterilization processes, in-house monitoring of a critical system such as this is essential. I can’t imagine going back to the “old” way.


Monday, September 14, 2020

DentaQuest Establishes New Fund to Support Patient Safety at New York Dental Clinics During Pandemic



DentaQuest, the nation’s leading purpose-driven oral health organization, today announced a $150,000 contribution to the Community Health Center Association of New York State (CHCANYS) to establish and fund The DentaQuest COVID-19 New York Dental Care Fund, which will provide grants to support patient safety efforts at safety net dental clinics across New York during the pandemic. “These grants will provide some welcome economic relief to safety net dental programs across New York state as people return to get overdue dental care,” said Rose Duhan, President and CEO of CHCANYS. We thank DentaQuest for recognizing and helping to meet these communities’ needs.

DentaQuest also committed $50,000 to NYC Health + Hospitals (NYC H+H) to support the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice program that is providing non-congregate housing for inmates released from jail during the pandemic who otherwise would not have a place to live. This donation will provide personal care products, including toothbrushes, floss, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, sunscreen and face masks, to help these individuals as they transition back into community life. A portion of these funds will also support NYC H+H Gotham Health sitesdental programs across the 5 boroughs of New York City.

Finally, DentaQuest contributed $50,000 to acquire a supply of personal hygiene kits that will be distributed to families at community centers, health centers and homeless shelters across New York City.

These commitments follow the company’s recent contribution of $25,000 to support the continued work of Callen Lorde Health Centers during the pandemic and a $145,000 donation by the DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement to United Way of New York City’s COVID-19 Community Fund.

In our role providing dental benefits to over 4 million members in New York, we are working with our managed care partners, clients and providers to make oral health care more affordable and easier to access with a focus on prevention,” said DentaQuest President and CEO Steve Pollock. “During the pandemic, we are working hard to ensure a strong and resilient oral health community, and we are proud to lend our support to organizations helping millions of New Yorkers manage through a particularly challenging period.”

###

About DentaQuest

DentaQuest is a purpose-driven oral health care company dedicated to improving the oral health of all. We do this through Preventistry® our all-in approach to better care, expanded access, value-based financing, and innovative solutions. We manage dental and vision benefits for 27+ million Americans and provide direct patient care through our network of more than 80 oral health centers in 6 states. We provide outcomes-based, cost-effective dental solutions for Medicaid and CHIP, Medicare Advantage, small and large businesses, and individuals nationwide. And, we've invested more than $200 million in grants and programs to achieve measurably healthier communities across the country. By advancing prevention-focused oral health, we will achieve better overall health for everyone. Learn more at www.DentaQuest.com and follow us on Twitter @DentaQuest, Facebook www.facebook.com/DentaQuest, Instagram @Inside_DentaQuest, and LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/company/DentaQuest. 


Thursday, September 10, 2020

An Open Letter to the Biopharmaceutical Industry


 


In the last week we've begun to hear about the potential for two drugs with the potential to be used as vaccines against Covid-19.  Never before has there appeared to be such a rush to produce a vaccine.  We have seen this race happen at a pace we've never seen before.  In fact, the process has been referred to as "Operation Warp Speed".   Yet, this is not just a race against time, it's a race that must be done properly and with proper safety included.  It normally takes years to bring a vaccine to the market, not months, and the reason for that is all of the safety that factors into a drug like this.

In a situation like this, it is imperative that the safety of the drug be at the top of the list.  A recent letter that has been published by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization pretty much describes this situation in the most succinct terms.  Here is the letter:


The biopharmaceutical industry is at the center of the world’s fight against Covid-19, leading the effort to develop new vaccines, therapeutic medicines and diagnostics. Over time, we expect these efforts to be successful, resulting in a range of new healthcare products for the benefit of the entire world. These new products will need to be manufactured in large quantities and distributed rapidly to all segments of our society. Physicians, public health officials, patients and healthy citizens will need to be educated as to their safety, efficacy, and risk/ benefit. Their widespread adoption will be based on trust in the integrity of the scientific and public health principles governing their development and approval. 


If this is done correctly, we will halt the pandemic, save lives, reignite our economy and enable a return to a more normal life. We will emerge from this pandemic better prepared to address and react to future biological threats. 


As data begin to emerge from clinical trials of an array of vaccines and therapeutics, we believe that it is important for us in the biopharmaceutical industry to articulate the principles we see as essential for assessing these data and determining their potential value. We believe that public health, and the public’s trust in new medical products, are dependent upon the integrity, transparency and objective assessment of new data as they emerge. 


Accordingly, we are articulating the following principles: 

1. Clinical trials should be conducted according to best practices to assure credibility of the data, as well as the ethical participation of a diverse population of subjects. 

2. Companies should disclose important clinical data via well-respected scientific meetings or rigorous, independent peer review journals. The disclosure of key scientific and clinical data through meetings and journals is the gold standard. However, companies may need to release some clinical data in advance of publication. In these instances, companies should approach any pre-publication press activity thoughtfully, and data should not be released by press release alone. Sponsors should ensure that data included in any press statement are clear and include accurate descriptions of key data points while reinforcing that the full data will be submitted for peer review. 

3. FDA should maintain its historic independence as the gold-standard international regulatory body, free from external influence. This will assure the public that the FDA review process will adhere to the highest standards of scientific and medical integrity, and that any approved products therefore will meet the required standards of safety and efficacy.

 4. The appropriate use of any new products should be data-driven. Different sub-populations are likely to react differently to different medicines. These differences will begin to be revealed in larger long-term studies. The public should be assured that only rigorously considered data will dictate the subsequent use of any product. Distribution of any vaccines should be done with these considerations in mind.

5. Political considerations should be put aside by Republicans and Democrats alike. Our nation’s leaders should reassure the public that politics will not influence the development and approval of new medicines. Conclusions about both the safety and effectiveness of such medicines should be based on rigorous collection and assessment of data by all the appropriate bodies, and their distribution should be based on sound public health considerations. This approach is all the more vital considering the unprecedented pace and scale of the effort to develop treatments and vaccines for Covid-19. 


We urge all parties involved in the development, review, approval, and distribution of COVID-19 therapeutics and vaccines to commit themselves to these principles.


Sincerely, 

Jeremy M. Levin, DPhil, MB BChir Chairman of the Board and CEO Ovid Therapeutics Chair, Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) 

Paul J. Hastings President and CEO Nkarta Therapeutics, Inc. Vice Chair, Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) 

Ted W. Love, MD President and CEO Global Blood Therapeutics Chair, Emerging Companies Section Governing Board Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) 

Michelle McMurry-Heath, MD, PhD President and CEO Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) 

Ron Cohen, MD President and CEO Acorda Therapeutics, Inc. Former Chair, Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) 

Rachel K. King Founder and CEO GlycoMimetics, Inc. Former Chair, Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO)

 John Maraganore, PhD CEO Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Former Chair, Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) 

Richard Pops Chairman & CEO Alkermes, Inc. Former Chair, Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO)

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

The Profession, the Pandemic, and a Guiding Principle


 

I've been a proud member of the American Dental Association ever since I graduated from dental school... and that's been a few years now.  I've been part of the organization because I feel it is important to support those that support me.  However, I've also always supported the ADA because they always strive to do the right thing.  That's important to me.


Recently ADA president Dr. Chad Gehani penned a Guest Editorial for the Journal of the American Dental Association where he does an outstanding job of articulating how hard dentistry has worked to maintain its high standards throughout the global pandemic.  Give it a read.  I hope you will be as moved by it as I was.


We are all in this together.

This phrase is popular for times of collective challenge and especially for this moment, as the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has shifted all that we once knew as normaland sent us all into a space of uncertainty. The disease, caused by a novel coronavirus, is at the center of ongoing discovery. A warp speedeffort to develop a vaccine is underway, and there are emergency authorizations for treatments that have shown glimmers of promise against this potentially fatal illness.

In the meantime, we are adapting to new ways of living, working, and being. We measure our daily activities by a new yardstick of risk. We have a greater awareness of physical space, our in- teractions with others, what we touch, where we go, how we move, and whether we remembered to bring our face masks.

As dentists, we are also going the extra mile by adding new layers to our infection control protocols to help protect all who enter our officesdpatients, staff, visitors, ourselvesdfrom an invisible health threat. Our ethical obligations to do good and do no harm are more top of mind than ever before.

It has been said that pandemics can magnify the true state of a society. That COVID-19 took hold in the United States in 2020 provides almost too easy a metaphor; in terms of eyesight, 20/20 is a measurement of clarity and acuity. Some may argue that the 2020 pandemic has brought to focus disparities that were once peripheralddisparities in societal safety nets, health equity, and socio- political priorities. These topics are fodder for debate, and the ways forward can be varied and complex.

But what is clear to medas a leader and practicing dentistdis that 2020 has shown us all what our profession is made of.

Our nations fight against COVID-19 has required participation from every corner of the health care community. We all, in some way, have had to make a shift.

Dentistrydan essential service and a key component of the overall health care systemdhas been doing its part. In adherence to American Dental Associations (ADA) recommendations, dentists focused on urgent and emergency care early on, ensuring that no one in critical need of dental treatment went without it. The goals were clear: to support our medical colleagues by conserving much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE), to keep emergency dental patients away from overextended emergency rooms, and to help mitigate disease spread through social distancing.

Organized dentistry has rallied at the local, state, and national levels in the name of guidance and advocacy. ADA volunteers and staff members have mobilized in an all-hands response, although in a way that no one could have predicted. Virtual meetings, conference calls, and working from home . a novel disease has demanded a novel way of getting things done.

But I am proud that the resultant resources (such as the ADAs COVID-19 online content, Return to Work Interim Guidance Toolkit, and Hazard Assessment checklist, figure), advocacy successes (including legislative provisions that provided economic relief for dental practices), and special initiatives (like those that provide PPE to dentists) have supported our colleagues through this unprecedented crisis.

There is also all the good that dentists have done in their own communities. I have received letters from ADA members who, in March and April, donated some of their own PPE to medical personnel on the front lines. To cheer up families shut in during a statewide stay-at-home order, 1 pediatric dentist in Texas produced fun videos for social media and kept

children smiling during an otherwise scary and unpredictable time.
I would be remiss to ignore the personal and professional impact that COVID-19 has made on all

of us. Some of us have been personally affected by the disease. In addition to feeling a strain on our mental health and well-being, we have worried about our patients, our teams, and our practices. Thankfully, dentistry has been treading carefully along a path to recovery. By this summer, most dental offices had reopened, and patients returned to receiving the wide array of care they needed.

Dentists are a resilient group. Our track record how we emerged stronger after other public health crises has long been an indicator of this. And again, in an unusual year, we have not only adapted we have stepped up.

The crisis, however, has not yet subsided. Plenty of unknowns remain. I am not sure we are even in the middle of this story yet, let alone nearing the end. If there is anything we might know for sure in a time of COVID-19, it is that our situation can change quickly. Some of us may be weary, and some of us may be worried about what the rest of the year will bring. But of all the things we have learned thus far, I am holding on to this thought: seeing this fight through will require us to stay connected, steadfast, and focused.

The responsibility falls on all of us to keep striving for the bright future that awaits. Let us hold fast to our commitment to the health and safety of those we serve. And let us continue to look out for one another as friends, colleagues, and compassionate citizens.

Indeed, if we are to put this pandemic behind us, we will need to be in it together. Its not just a phrase; its a mission and a guiding principle. n


Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Greater New York Dental Meeting Goes Virtual Due to Covid-19

 

It was with a bit of sadness that I read the info below.  The Greater New York Dental Meeting has been a staple of U.S. trade shows for 96 years... and it will continue to be.  However, this year the meeting has been greatly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.  The unfortunate reality is that the risk of having that many people in close quarters is simply not worth the risk currently.  Due to the risk, the Greater New York Dental Meeting is going virtual for 202.  Read on for all the details from the folks in charge...


Dear Friends,

For 96 years, the Greater New York Dental Meeting has been honored to be in a partnership with the Dental Trade. Even with the challenges of 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy, we have worked together to produce the largest dental and healthcare event in the United States. We are now faced with an enemy that has challenged us all in ways we never imagined. 

The Greater New York Dental Meeting and its two component sponsors, the New York County Dental Society representing the Dentists of Manhattan and the Second District Dental Society, representing the Dentists of Brooklyn and Staten Island, fully understand how the dental trade is suffering during these trying times. We feel your pain, as our dental offices too, cannot work at full capacity and our team members have been reduced in hours and in some cases furloughed.

The Javits Convention Center in New York has now decided that the Greater New York Dental Meeting cannot hold an event that has grown to 55,000+ attendees. With that in mind, we decided to change the conversation from gloom to a celebration of our profession, and the future. As other meetings are developing profit making virtual meetings to replace their traditional events, we feel it is time to give back to the dental trade.

The Greater New York Dental Meeting will hold its own version of a virtual event, beginning as usual, the day after Thanksgiving, but WITHOUT the intention to be profitable. To support the dental trade, we are making it as affordable as possible and will charge only $975 for a standard single booth space. We will continue our policy of FREE admission to any dental professional for the entire event so that we can attract attendees to enhance your potential sales. In addition, we will also provide ALL CE for FREE

To further pass along savings to our exhibitors who had contracted with us for 2020 traditional booth space, we are offering three options: 

  • apply your deposit towards a 2020 virtual booth space and earn a 5% discount
  • apply it towards a 2021 booth space position and obtain a 3% savings 
  • contract for both 2020 and 2021 and earn both of the previous discounts plus an additional $150 saving off of the 2021 booth price 

We are currently also working on all of our 2021 programs including: seminars, workshops, “Live” Dentistry on the exhibit floor, Specialty programs, hygiene and assistant programs, nursing education, Digital Dentistry program,  the children’s Smiles program and our recognized healthcare screening event with immunization services. 

Lastly, any exhibitor who contracts for any 2021 sponsorship and advertising programs, and sends in their payment before February 1, will earn a discount of 10%. If payments are received after February 1 but before March 1, they will receive a 5% discount. 

Our new 2020 virtual meeting prospectus and sponsorship brochure for this year’s event will be available shortly. Please contact Carla (carla@gnydm.com) with any 2020/2021 exhibit questions and Dana (dana@gnydm.com) for any 2020/2021 sponsorship opportunities. 

 We are planning for a bright future that lies ahead for dentistry. Please join us for a virtual celebration in 2020 and let’s work together to bring back the face-to-face tradition with our 2021 Meeting.


Thursday, September 3, 2020

DPR and Podium Announce Upcoming Webinar - Make Plans to Be There





Next week, on Tuesday September 8th at 12:00 Central, DPR and Podium are hosting a webinar on attracting new patients.  New patient acquisition is the lifeblood of any practice, especially in these uncertain times.  Make plans now to attend this informative event!  I'll be hosting and moderating and I promise a good time with lots of great information.  Join me there.  The link is at the bottom of this post.


Patients today crave convenient, frictionless experiences, especially when it comes to consumer-to-business communication. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to adapt is critical — and practices that don’t prioritize customer expectations are more vulnerable. The key: text messaging.

 

Join this webinar to hear experts delve into the results of Podium’s 2020 State of Business Texting report and provide key insights on what businesses need to do to effectively implement a text messaging strategy. You’ll learn about:

 

·       Business perceptions vs. consumer expectations

·       Meeting the needs of consumers with business text messaging

·       Tips for increasing customer engagement with text messaging


here is the event registration link: 

https://event.on24.com/wcc/r/2596644/5636EE9FD0A9D43B4CD4143BF131D7C4

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Dentsply Sirona Now Offering Pre-Sterile Blister Packs of ProTaper Gold® Endodontic Instruments

 




Managing the risk of cross-contamination can be a daunting task, especially among the current circumstances impacting the dental profession. Based on a recent survey, 90 percent of patients agree that sterilization is one of their top concerns related to visiting a dental office post COVID-19.1 Dentists and Endodontic Specialists can now continue to use the market-leading rotary endodontic files they trust, while also further building patients’ confidence and easing potential fears of cross-contamination.

As part of Dentsply Sirona’s continued efforts to address patient safety concerns and lead the way on infection prevention control, the world’s largest manufacturer of professional dental products and technologies is now offering pre-sterilized ProTaper Gold® endodontic files. This is in addition to the already pre-sterile WaveOne® Gold files and TruNatomy® files.

By offering pre-sterilized and single-patient-use instruments, the risk of cross-contamination is dramatically reduced, while also making the operatory transition between patients even more efficient. Now, dental professionals can use the endodontic instrument of their choice that’s proven to provide the predictability and performance they want while also enhancing their practices‘ infection prevention protocols.

“We’ve been incredibly proud of how the ProTaper Gold® procedural solutions advanced endodontic treatment and enabled the clinician to preserve the natural tooth structure and provide healthy smiles to tens of millions of patients globally. We’re thrilled to further enhance our endodontic solutions and provide the greatest breadth of pre-sterilized, single-patient-use endodontic offerings in the United States. We are committed to doing all that we can to  comfortable environment for patients and the staff. It’s vital we keep our practices healthy!” said Eric Bruno, Senior Vice President, North America

ProTaper Gold endodontic instruments remain the gold standard for flexibility, strength and cutting efficiency, while also being incredibly easy to use and simple to understand. 

The ProTaper Gold system's innovative design features have catapulted it to one of the top selling file in the world, the leading choice of endodontists and the premier system taught to pre and post-doctoral students. 

For more information on pre-sterilized ProTaper Gold® instruments and the entire ProTaper Gold® s stem, or to make a purchase, visit https://shop.dentsplysirona.com/en-us/protaper-gold-rotary-file-shaping-finishing.html or schedule a consultation with your local Dentsply Sirona Endodontic Specialists at https://www.dentsplysirona.com/en-us/discover-by-topic/online-consultation.html. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

HLT and onDiem Announce New Partnership to Connect Students and Dental Professionals with Professional Opportunities


 



onDiem is pleased to announce a new partnership with Higher Learning Technologies (HLT), the developers of the #1 mobile study app for dental professionals. Starting today, HLT and onDiem will work together to provide HLT’s network of over 70,000 dentists and 30,000 hygienists with career development resources as well as access to temporary and permanent employment opportunities. In addition, dentists and hygienists in the onDiem professional community will have the chance to augment their existing training and advance their career by way of HLT’s best-in-class tools for lifelong-learning. 


“HLT is a true innovator in the mobile learning space. It’s had over a quarter million dental professional app downloads in the past three years alone, and it is the clear industry leader in study tools for dental and hygiene coursework and board exams,” said Joe Fogg, CEO and founder of onDiem. “COVID-19 has displaced thousands of dental professionals who may have been looking for their first job, or who may be seeking work after being laid off. We’re excited for the opportunity to work with HLT to help students, new grads, and seasoned professionals find permanent and temporary work when they’re ready, and help them on their career journey. We’re also excited about the possibilities this partnership offers professionals on onDiem’s platform.“ 


"onDiem’s mission is to transform the way that dental offices operate, and this aligns with our mission to transform the way that dental students and dental professionals learn. This collaborative partnership accelerates both of our missions and provides great combined value to the dental community,” says Alec Whitters, CEO, Co-founder of HLT. "During these unprecedented times, technology can and must be leveraged to provide accessible and trusted resources to solve the many challenges that these professionals are facing.”


For more information about onDiem, or the onDiem-HLT partnership, please contact Beth Deutsche at Beth.Deutsche@ondiem.com. For more information about HLT, please contact Adam Keune at adam@hltcorp.com. 


About onDiem


Headquartered in Portland, Oregon, onDiem's staffing platform connects dental practices with dentists, hygienists, dental assistants and front office personnel for flexible staffing opportunities. With a free account, practices may create temporary shift posts and communicate with candidates. Professionals may create a robust profile and resume, while searching and applying for temporary and permanent jobs in their area. As employees, not contractors, onDiem professionals enjoy healthcare benefits, employer-paid taxes, and insurance coverage, along with the ability to set their own work schedule and hourly rates. onDiem eliminates the burden of staffing compliance, so practices can focus on maximizing production and revenue. onDiem’s platform serves over 32,000 dental professionals and over 13,000 dental practices nationwide.


About Higher Learning Technologies


Founded in 2012, HLT is the market leader in mobile learning. With 50,000+ active daily users worldwide, and 10 million downloads over time, HLT empowers students to use their mobile devices to study when they want, and where they want, for important tests and courses. HLT offers study applications for students of nursing, medicine, and dentistry. It also offers study applications for military, civic, and business professionals, along with college and post-graduate test prep.