Thursday, January 21, 2021

Imagen Dental Partners Revolutionizes the Group Practice Model Introducing a New Industry-Changing, Technology-Forward Collective Where Doctors, Staff and, Patients Thrive


 


Improving upon the Dental Partnership Organization (DPO) model, Imagen Dental Partners is rapidly growing a collection of high-performing, technology-forward dental practices. Imagen enables independent dentists the ability to focus on delivering superior patient care, fostering growth through education and technology, and creating long-term wealth.

Imagen is a DPO that allows dentists full clinical autonomy, emphasizes technology and mastery of advanced clinical skills, and encourages dentists to practice at the highest standards possible. Imagen DPO is at the forefront of true partnership, born from the desire to support doctors in supporting their patients. 

“Every independent dentist will need a strategy to survive and thrive in a very rapidly consolidating dental industry,” says Michael Augins, Imagen President. “When a dentist partners with Imagen DPO, they can maintain their clinical control while maximizing the wealth creation potential they have as independent practice owners. Imagen is for technology-oriented dentists wanting to grow their practice meaningfully over the remainder of their career.”

Many DSO’s and DPO’s focus on short-term profitability with the intent to sell the practice group in a quick flip. Imagen has a long-term ownership structure with no institutional capital and offers a higher level of alignment with their dentist partners financially and clinically. Imagen DPO maximizes value to their dentist partners, providing them with financial incentives in three ways: getting paid for the dentistry they produce, getting paid for the profitability of their practice, and getting paid a portion of the profitability of Imagen as a whole. Imagen DPO provides partners with access to the dental industry’s most robust offering of education and mentoring opportunities by Spear Education and CDOCS, allowing them to learn from dentistry’s leading educators to expand their skills and elevate their entire team.

Imagen partners with successful practices and utilizes a proprietary suite of growth playbooks to unlock the full growth potential. They provide a full complement of robust business support, enabling partners to focus on delivering excellent patient care.

“I joined Imagen to get rid of the administrative headaches while keeping autonomy and ownership in my practice. I now have a defined exit plan with more wealth opportunities than just owning and selling a solo practice. It’s also more fulfilling to be part of a community of like-minded dentists,” states Rich Rosenblatt, DMD, founding Imagen partner. 

Technology is not an afterthought at Imagen – it is a requirement. All Imagen practice partners must utilize CAD/CAM and cone-beam or be willing to do so upon joining the partnership. “Technology unlocks practice growth and improves patient outcomes and their satisfaction with the treatment they receive,” said Rezwan Manji, Chief Executive Officer at Imagen. “We know from our research that high tech practices outperform and, therefore, see this as an essential part of who we are as an entity.

With current operations in Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin, Imagen is already one of the fastest-growing DPO’s in America. With rapid expansion planned for 2021, Imagen is well on track to achieve its goal of becoming Americas fastest-growing dental partnership organization.   


For more information about Imagen Dental Partners, visit imagendentalpartners.com or email info@imagendentalpartners.com. 


Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Chinese Manufactured Covid-19 Vaccine might Only be 50% Effective...

 



A vaccine that was created in China is now on the market and being administered.

Unfortunately the drug does not seem to be highly effective.  Brazilian researchers are reporting that the vaccine, called CoronaVac, was 50.4% effective.

The 2 vaccines currently being administered in the U.S. from Pfizer and Modern are both said to be over 90% effective.  Unfortunately the statistics show that the CoronaVac is no better than a coin flip, which is unfortunate.

You can read all the details on nature.com

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Nexa3D and Keystone Industries join Forces to Deliver Higher Productivity and Performance 3D printing Solutions for the Dental Industry

 


Gibbstown, NJ and Ventura, CA, January 19, 2021Nexa3D, the maker of ultrafast polymer production 3D printers, and Keystone Industries, a trusted dental manufacturer of biocompatible, cutting-edge, patented photopolymer resins, announced today a collaboration to make all Keystone KeyPrint® 3D printing dental resins available worldwide on Nexa3D’s ultrafast NXE 400 3D printers. Under this agreement, both companies will combine their extensive dental, photopolymer and 3D printing capabilities to deliver the highest productivity, precision and performance 3D printing solutions to the dental market. 


This powerful new combination comes with Keystone’s best-in-class, FDA-cleared night guard resin, KeySplint Soft® and KeyModel Ultra®, the go-to material for next-gen dental and orthodontic models along with the rest of Keystone’s laboratory and medical device printing materials, including KeyTray and KeyGuide. By responding to market needs, focusing on product quality, and rigorously ensuring that all KeyPrint products are safe, effective, and compliant with international standards, Keystone is fast becoming the leading choice for dental labs and clinics everywhere.  All Keystone precision dental resins are manufactured in the USA, and available immediately through Nexa3D’s expanding global channels. 


To learn more about the Keystone and Nexa3D partnership, check out this media kit and watch this video.


“We are thrilled to tailor our entire portfolio of KeyPrint resins for Nexa3D, a company that is fast emerging as an additive polymer market leader,” said Keystone Dental President Ira Rosenau. “During our extensive internal optimization and validation testing, we confirmed that the NXE 400 produces outstanding quality prints at high volumes, making it an ideal additive manufacturing partner for the dental industry. We expect Nexa3D users to have an outstanding experience with our growing line of KeyPrint resins.”


Nexa3D’s ultrafast and high-resolution NXE 400 3D printer features revolutionary patented LSPc technology that combines superior build volume, extreme print uniformity, advanced process algorithms, modular design for onsite automation, and intelligent optimization. Offering an unprecedented 16-liter build volume and up to 20X productivity gains, the NXE 400 is transforming the 3D printing industry in the same way broadband internet opened new possibilities compared to dial-up access. The printer yields orders of magnitude part-throughput gains while offering the lowest cost of ownership in its class on the market. Nexa3D enters the lucrative dental market armed with all of Keystone’s game changing KeyPrint resins, including KeySplint Soft, a material that delivers a unique combination of the strength needed to protect teeth with the added flexibility for improved patient comfort, all with a transparent and aesthetic appearance. To learn more about all KeyPrint materials, check out the Nexa3D materials page or the KeyPrint materials page


“We are excited to partner with a company of the caliber and reputation of Keystone to jointly advance the range of available functional and affordable dental solutions for labs and practitioners,” said Avi Reichental, co-founder, Chairman and CEO, Nexa3D. “At Nexa3D, we are committed to advancing 3D printing performance and productivity through internal innovations and external collaborations. We are particularly pleased to partner with Keystone to bring our combined portfolio of 3D printing dental solutions to market, delivering new levels of speed, productivity and efficiency to the dental industry.”


Every NXE400 3D printer comes with accelerated part-to-print capabilities, including fully integrated build set up and print management software that can prepare part files for printing in half the time of other solutions. The printer is also fully interoperable with all leading digital dental workflows and providers.


Both the NXE400 3D printer and KeyPrint resins are available for purchase now. To find a Nexa3D reseller near you or schedule a live demo via Zoom, please click here.

 

Keystone Industries and Nexa3D are working together to apply circular economy principles into every phase of their material formulation and printing process. Through the implementation of end-to-end validated workflows, both companies are rigorously measuring and improving on what matters: minimizing process waste, reducing energy consumption per part, and working with customers around the world to reduce their overall carbon footprint.


About Keystone Industries

Keystone’s group of dental companies focuses largely on consumable digital, laboratory, operatory, and preventative products.  The company is a global supplier, maintaining a diverse network of more than 800 U.S. and international dental distribution partners in 70+ countries.


Keystone has developed industry-leading products such as its innovative KeyPrint line of 3D printing resins, Diamond D® high-impact denture base, and the Pro-Form® line of thermoplastics, innovative and patent-protected laboratory offerings such as Enamelite ceramic spray glazes, and the award-winning Gelato prophy paste. Keystone has spent nearly three decades formulating and producing biocompatible, cutting-edge, patented photopolymer resins for dental and cosmetic nail applications. Keystone maintains FDA licensing, ISO 13485 (medical device) and 22716 certifications, along with GMP certification and international product registrations.

About Nexa3D

Nexa3D is digitizing the world’s supply chain sustainably. The company makes ultrafast industrial grade polymer 3D printers affordable for professionals and businesses of all sizes. The company's photoplastic printers are powered by its proprietary Lubricant Sublayer Photo-curing (LSPc) while its thermoplastic printers are powered by Quantum Laser Sintering (QLS), both of which increase print speed and productivity by orders of magnitude. The company’s partnerships with world-class material suppliers unlock the full potential of supply-chain approved polymers that are tailored for faster production at scale. Nexa3D’s Digital Twin Printing (DTP) software optimizes the entire additive production cycle through process interplay algorithms to ensure part performance and production consistency, while minimizing material usage and waste to reduce energy and carbon footprints. To learn more, visit www.nexa3d.com, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


Monday, January 18, 2021

U.S. News & World Report Rank Dentistry in the Top 10 Best Jobs

 


While the pandemic has certainly changed work environments for a lot of us, healthcare, and especially dentistry  has for sure undergone changes.

However, dentists can take heart as the profession can at least feel good about their rankings in the annual U.S. News & World Report ranking of Best Jobs.

Dentistry has ranked pretty high in this list for the past few years that I've been paying attention to it... and this year isn't much different.  The job list ranks "Dentist" as #9, not just in healthcare, but in all jobs across the board.

For those of you who might be considering dentistry for yourself or perhaps for one of your children let me state something right off the bat... Money isn't everything.  While dentists tend to make a good living, the profession isn't necessarily easy.  My biggest piece of advice to anyone exploring what to do with their life is this: "Do what you love."  I consider myself a really lucky guy.  I *love* what I do.  I get to earn a living by doing something that I love to do.  I love helping people and I love getting to know people and helping them feel at ease.  I also truly enjoy "fixing things".  Dentistry allows me to do all of that.  However, if you do not love it, the profession can be daunting and difficult.  If you choose to do what you love, you will never work a day in your life.  That's my best advice.

Here is what the report has to say:

Dentists identify and treat problems concerning a patient's mouth, gums and teeth. Their duties include extracting teeth, fitting dentures and filling cavities. Some choose to specialize in areas that range from treating serious oral problems and diseases to straightening teeth and performing oral surgeries. They are assisted by dental hygienists, who complete a patient's teeth cleaning, and by dental assistants, who usually help with record keeping and instrument sterilization.

Many people dread the dentist. When they open wide, they're afraid what the dentist will find. Yet another cavity? Or even worse – will it be time for a root canal? Will the dentist embarrass them about their flossing frequency or their coffee drinking? Will they push procedures that patients don't want?

According to Ada S. Cooper, a consumer adviser for the American Dental Association and dentist with a private practice in New York City, these concerns are why establishing trust is so important. "Patients have to know that dentists are doing what's best for them," Cooper says. And they can do this by being honest, ethical and compassionate – three qualities Cooper looks for when she is hiring at her practice. She also highlights the importance of good communication skills.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 2.8 percent employment growth for dentists between 2019 and 2029. In that period, an estimated 3,700 jobs should open up.

Dentsply Sirona Acquires Byte®, a Leading Direct-to-Consumer, Doctor-Directed Clear Aligner Company


The largest manufacturer of dental supplies on the planet, Dentsply Sirona, Inc has made an interesting move in the clear aligner space.  In the past couple of years, the U.S. market has seen a few companies entering into the orthodontic space by going direct to consumer.

This can be a dangerous move.  orthodontics is one of those things that "seems" easy at first glance, but there is a reason specialists in the field have 4 years of undergraduate studies, 4 years of dental training and then another 2 years for the orthodontic speciality.  In a nutshell, the movement of teeth doesn't require 12 years of college because "anyone can do it."  No, it requires all of the knowledge and training because it's NOT easy.  Trust me when I say I've had to fix some things in my career that were "do it yourself" fixes and trying to rectify the train after it has jumped the tracks is much harder than just laying the tracks straight to start with.

However, some of these clear aligner companies have seen the light and are partnering with doctors to make sure the treatment is done properly and is monitored throughout.  One of those companies is OrthoFx, which I happen to work with.  Now we are seeing Byte being acquired by Dentsply Sirona.  The relationships  developed between orthodontic companies and doctors are smart.  The companies do the marketing and manufacture the clear aligners while the doctors use the tools and provide the expertise.

My personal opinion is that these types of situations benefit the patients as well as the profession.

Doctor supervision is critical to clinical success.  You cannot have an inexperienced patient squish some putty in their mouth, mail it to a company, and receive quality care the works.  That business model is begging for clinical failures because you have removed all of the "knowledge guardrails".  (I'm talking to YOU Smile Direct Club)

So I'm interested to see what Dentsply Sirona does now that the own Byte.  I anticipate this will be a benefit to doctors and patients, but only time will tell.


DENTSPLY SIRONA Inc. (“Dentsply Sirona”) (Nasdaq: XRAY), and Byte, a rapidly growing clear aligner company, today announced that Dentsply Sirona acquired Byte in an all-cash deal for $1.04 billion. Byte holds a leadership position in the rapidly growing direct-to-consumer, doctor-directed clear aligner market. As a result of the transaction, Dentsply Sirona adds scale to its SureSmile® clear aligner business and strengthens its connection with dental professionals. With the global reach and supply chain expertise of Dentsply Sirona, and the innovative direct-to-consumer system that Byte brings, the combined company’s clear aligner platform is well-positioned to drive additional growth.

Byte has developed an innovative business model, built on doctor-directed care that provides excellent outcomes for patients with mild to moderate orthodontic needs. Byte was founded on the commitment to improve access and affordability to orthodontic care using a nationwide network of licensed-dentists and orthodontists. It offers effective treatment planning and an easy-to-use clear aligner solution delivered directly to a consumer’s home. The CEO of Byte, Neeraj Gunsagar, and the existing management team will continue to operate the business.

Don Casey, Chief Executive Officer of Dentsply Sirona, said, “Over the past two years, we have executed against our restructuring plan, strengthening the R&D, supply chain and commercial platforms, positioning Dentsply Sirona for long-term growth. We are excited to take the next step in our evolution by bringing Byte into our organization. We have been pleased with the growth of our SureSmile clear aligner business and we are confident that adding the innovative platform of Byte adds scale for us in the important clear aligner market. We look forward to working with the talented team at Byte as we utilize our collective strengths to expand patient access to quality care and support the success of our dental partners around the world.”

Neeraj Gunsagar, CEO of Byte commented, “We’ve been impressed with the passion that Dentsply Sirona has for innovation in dentistry.  This combination provides Byte with unmatched resources and R&D capabilities that allow us to reach additional customers and accelerate our mission of changing the world one smile at a time. The transaction enhances our ability to offer affordable care to patients and increases awareness of the overall benefits of oral care. Our team is committed to driving our strong growth and we are delighted to join the Dentsply Sirona family as we execute on our shared mission.” 

Jorge Gomez, Chief Financial Officer of Dentsply Sirona, said, “As we bring the two businesses together, we are confident that we can unlock incremental growth and further capitalize on the increasing consumer demand for clear aligner solutions. This transaction is immediately accretive to Dentsply Sirona’s revenue growth rate and Non-GAAP EPS. In addition, we expect the acquisition to be accretive to Dentsply Sirona’s long-term financial commitments. We’re thrilled that Neeraj and his team are joining our company as we continue to focus on driving growth and value for our shareholders.” 

Strategic and Financial Benefits

Enhances scale in the important clear aligner space: With the market projected to increase at a 20-25% growth rate, Dentsply Sirona strengthens its SureSmile clear aligner platform with the addition of the Byte business.
 

Accelerates the growth and profitability of Dentsply Sirona’s combined clear aligners business: Dentsply Sirona’s R&D capabilities and commercial expertise offer significant potential to drive additional growth of the Byte clear aligner solutions. Additionally, Byte has developed an innovative direct-to-consumer system that expands patient access, enabling Dentsply Sirona to connect additional patients with its network of dental partners and increase access to quality oral healthcare.
 

Accretive to Dentsply Sirona’s long-term financial targets and Non-GAAP EPS in 2021: Byte is expected to generate 2021 run-rate sales of at least $200 million. Combined with the SureSmile business, which has an expected revenue run-rate of $100 million by the end of 2021, Dentsply Sirona expects a combined clear aligner revenue run-rate in excess of $300 million by the end of 2021. Given the proven track record of profitability at Byte, the acquisition is expected to generate Non-GAAP EPS accretion of at least $0.05 in 2021 and be incrementally accretive in the years thereafter. The net present value of the tax benefits associated with the transaction is estimated to be approximately $160 million.

The transaction closed on December 31, 2020 and was funded with cash on Dentsply Sirona’s balance sheet.

Centerview Partners LLC served as financial advisor to Dentsply Sirona and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP served as legal counsel. Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC and American Discovery Capital LLC served as financial advisors to Byte, with Bodman PLC as legal counsel.

Conference Call/Webcast Information
Dentsply Sirona’s management team will host an investor conference call and live webcast on January 4, 2021 beginning at 8:30 am ET. 

Investors can access the webcast via a link on Dentsply Sirona’s web site at www.dentsplysirona.com.  For those planning to participate on the call, please dial +1-877-370-7637 for domestic calls, or +1-629-228-0723 for international calls.  The Conference ID # is 8676463.  A replay of the conference call will be available online on the Dentsply Sirona web site, and a dial-in replay will be available for one week following the call at +1-855-859-2056 (for domestic calls) or +1-404-537-3406 (for international calls), replay passcode # 8676463.

About Dentsply Sirona
Dentsply Sirona is the world’s largest manufacturer of professional dental products and technologies, with a 132-year history of innovation and service to the dental industry and patients worldwide. Dentsply Sirona develops, manufactures, and markets a comprehensive solutions offering including dental and oral health products as well as other consumable medical devices under a strong portfolio of world class brands. As The Dental Solutions Company, Dentsply Sirona’s products provide innovative, high-quality and effective solutions to advance patient care and deliver better, safer and faster dentistry. Dentsply Sirona’s shares of common stock are listed in the United States on Nasdaq under the symbol XRAY. Visit www.dentsplysirona.com for more information about Dentsply Sirona and its products.

About Byte
Byte’s doctor-directed clear aligner system provides customers’ nationwide access to at-home invisible aligners for a straighter, whiter smile. With a growing team of over 450 employees and headquartered in Los Angeles, Byte’s nationwide network of licensed dentists and orthodontists prescribe and oversee every customer’s treatment plan, delivering a top-rated consumer experience and results in up to half the time and cost of traditional methods. At under $85 per month, Byte has found a way to make the inaccessible, accessible — providing an easy, convenient and affordable way to upgrade your smile through the Byte Teledentistry platform. For more information on Byte, visit: www.byteme.com.




 

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Sony Announces AirPeak Drone Camera System

 



No word on price as of yet, but check this thing out in the video above!

While consumer drones have had cameras for years, this takes things to a different level... somewhat.  My DJI Phantom 4 Pro has a 4K camera and crazy stabilization which provides some startlingly great photos and video.

The AirPeak is actually a flying platform for Sony's Alpha Series of cameras.  The idea is that you can now get drone footage from a professional camera.  As a drone pilot I'm fascinated by the retractable landing gear and also the amount of lift this aircraft needs to generate to lift that heavy camera.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Join Me on Friday for the eAssist "How We Did It" Meeting!

 






This week, Thursday through Saturday eAssist will be presenting their "How We Did It" virtual meeting.  On Friday January 15th at 8:00am Mountain Time, I'll be presenting: Diving Deep int Dentistry and Technology.  I'll be going over products and services that I use on a regular basis and that I couldn't do without.

You register for the meeting here.

I hope a lot of you can make it.  This is the future of dental meetings and you won't want to miss out!

Monday, January 11, 2021

Join Me This Thursday for a Webinar Discussing Voco's New VisCalor Bulk Composite

 



I've had an opportunity lately to test and use the newest composite from Voco.  Called VisCalor Bulk, the material promises to be a new arrow in the quiver of the restorative dentist.

In the time I've worked with it, I've come away impressed.  In fact, it very well may be the material I truly favor at this moment in time.  The material is extremely is to place, handle, and sculpt.  But the best part... is that that isn't the best part!  This material is extremely aesthetic as well.

I'm really honored that the folks at Voco have asked me to do presentation on VisCalor this Wednesday evening.  It's happening on January 13th at 8:30pm EST, 7:30pm CST, 6:30 MST, and 5:30 PST.

If you are interested, you can reserve a spot by following this link.





Thursday, January 7, 2021

ADA Advocates, CDC Confirms: Dentists Are in Phase 1a for COVID-19 Vaccinations

 


As COVID-19 vaccine distribution continues across the country, there is good news for the dental community: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed that dental personnel—including dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, and dental students—are among the health care workers who should get access to vaccines in Phase 1a of distribution.  


The CDC has developed a playbook to guide state and local jurisdictions in implementing COVID-19 vaccine plans. The initial recommendation indicated that health care workers are to be prioritized in the first phase of vaccine distribution. However, that recommendation did not specifically note that dental personnel were included in this group.


After rigorous advocacy by the American Dental Association and in response to a letter signed by the ADA and 27 other groups, the CDC clarified its recommendation on December 28: Dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, and dental students are categorized as health care personnel. Per the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, whose recommendations have informed the vaccine playbook, health care personnel are to be offered the vaccine in Phase 1a.


What this means for the ADA and state/local dental societies


This is a major win for our Association at all levels of the tripartite. Last fall, as federal and independent agencies developed a system for equitable COVID-19 vaccine distribution, the ADA advocated for dentists to be given priority access to a vaccine during Phase 1a.


Although the CDC has outlined its recommendation, final authority on COVID-19 vaccine distribution rests with individual states. At a state level, your dental society can now use the CDC’s clarification to actively advocate that dentists should be prioritized for vaccination. For example, the South Carolina Dental Association used the CDC’s clarification to move dentists in that state from Phase 1b to 1a. Please keep in mind that each state government’s approach to vaccination is different, but know that your state dental society is working hard to help you.


What this means for you


The vaccine rollout varies by state, and often, within each state, county-by-county; depending on their location, dentists may still be prioritized in various tiers and subgroups. If dentists in your state are not prioritized in Phase 1a, are prioritized in Phases 1b or 1c, or are not categorized at all, I advise you to stay connected to your state society and state legislators for updates.


Rest assured: The ADA as well as your state and local dental societies are bringing your concerns to lawmakers and health departments.


In the meantime, our Association continues to provide information and resources, including the following:

An interactive COVID-19 Vaccine Regulations for Dentists map, which helps dentists determine when they can be vaccinated and whether they can administer vaccines in their state

The updated COVID-19 vaccination fact sheet

New FAQ sheets for both practice owners and employees on employment-related matters relative to COVID-19 vaccines

Be sure to visit ADA.org/virus and click the link at the top titled “Vaccination” for regular updates.


You might remember that I received my first vaccine dose a few weeks back (Vaccinations for health care personnel in Arizona—including some hospital-based dentists and dental team members—began last month). I received my second dose today. Our Association is working to ensure that, soon, all dentists and dental team members will get the same opportunity if they have not already.


Dentistry’s role in helping to end this pandemic is essential, and the vast majority of dentists agree: 84 percent of dentists believe that it is extremely important or very important to be vaccinated against COVID-19.


So get vaccinated when you can and encourage patients to roll up their sleeves when the time comes.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

ADA Working to Help Decrease Shortages of Critical PPE

 



The  pandemic has created challenges for everyone.  Whether it be layoffs from jobs, decrease in busyness, constant mask wearing, hand washing, changes are everywhere.

In healthcare, one of the most critical problems that we are facing is viable supplies of PPE (personal protective equipment).  Beginning in early 2020, shortages began to appear.  This was especially true of critical N-95 and KN-95 masks.  These specially manufactured masks filter 95% of particles down to .3 microns.  With the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 having a particle size larger than .3 microns, the filtration of these masks was needed to protect healthcare workers from aerosolized particles breathed out by infected individuals.  Demand for these masks spiked as cases of Covid-19 increased dramatically.  Many facilities were issuing one mask per employee that they had to use for weeks.

Along with masks, disposable gowns also began to be in short supply.  These gowns, which become covered with potentially infectious materials are worn when treating patients and then disposed of as medical waste after use.

Shortages of these 2 products was bad enough, but then in the summer of 2020 my contacts in the industry began to whisper about something equally as critical... gloves.  Protecting exposed skin is an absolute necessary during patient contact and *especially* in dentistry, where we have been wearing gloves during procedures since the 80s.  Glove supplies suddenly began to decrease.  The reason, according to sources, was that during the global shutdown and shelter at home during the late winter and spring of 2020, glove factories were forced to close.  During that time of shutdown, global inventories of gloves were rapidly expended as suppliers used their inventory to keep hospitals and dental offices functioning.  However, with the pandemic, glove usage spiraled upward and factories were unable to keep pace.  Working at a deficit, the companies could barely keep up with demand, let alone create a reserve supply.

Now the strained supply chain is also yielding to the laws of economics.  Supply and demand being what they are, healthcare is seeing prices increase to levels unseen in the past.  To help combat this, the ADA has reached out the Department of Health and Human Services as well as FEMA to see what can be done to ease the problem.

Here is what the ADA has had to say about this:


To ensure dental practices have enough personal protective equipment, the ADA is urging two federal agencies to improve access to PPE so that dentists and dental team members can continue to treat patients safely during the pandemic.

In Dec. 16, 2020, letters to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, ADA President Daniel J. Klemmedson, D.D.S., M.D., and Executive Director Kathleen T. O’Loughlin, D.M.D., said the Association has “grave concerns regarding the cost, availability, and distribution of personal protective equipment.”

“Dentistry is an essential health care service and dentists and their teams are essential health care workers who need access to PPE in order to stay safe from the coronavirus,” they wrote.

In the letter, Drs. Klemmedson and O’Loughlin highlighted the work of the ADA’s Health Policy Institute, which has been collecting and tracking PPE data on N95/KN95 and surgical masks, face shields, gowns, disinfecting supplies, and gloves since the onset of COVID-19. HPI has found that prices are up “significantly” and said nearly one-third of dentists have reported that prices “have at least tripled.” Surgical masks and gloves have also seen the largest price increases, and four and five-fold price increases are not uncommon, HPI said.

The ADA shared two dental supply companies’ PPE experiences during the pandemic. Benco, a privately owned distributor, told ADA News that PPE prices have been increasing for gloves at unprecedented levels. Benco also said that the company “simply cannot procure enough gloves to meet demand.” Patterson, another major dental supply distributor, indicated that global demand for PPE is at “a level never experienced before.”

For Patterson, “the limited number of manufacturers, raw material requirements, global logistic challenges, and import/export issues are the major factors impacting prices in the marketplace,” wrote Drs. Klemmedson and O’Loughlin.

The ADA said that with larger distributors unable to fill the demand, dentists are increasingly relying on a larger number of distributors for PPE.

Prior to the pandemic, 9% of dental practices said they utilized Amazon for PPE but now some 32% of practices say they have been utilizing the online retailer’s services to stock their practices. Many dentists have also reported using multiple distributors after previously relying on one.

Dentists are finding it moderately to very difficult to purchase gloves in their preferred sizes and material. Third-party brokers have become involved in the distribution process. “This is causing price increases for mainstream distributors and ultimately to the end customer,” Drs. Klemmedson and O’Loughlin wrote.

“As FEMA works with HHS and other partners to ensure limited supplies of critical PPE are available to essential health care workers, the ADA wants to ensure that dental practices are supplied with these important health care products for the safety of our patients and our dental teams,” the letter concluded.

For more information about the ADA’s advocacy efforts during COVID-19, visit ADA.org/COVID19Advocacy.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

The History of Malware

 



Today I'm doing a short post, simply because the *real* story here will be in the link below.

As regular readers of this blog know, I have a huge interest and concern in security, viruses, RansomWare, and malware in general.  This goes far beyond concerns about HIPAA fines, although that's a pretty important reason for healthcare folks to pay close attention to their security profiles in their offices.  However, the problems that malware can create are myriad and while no one is completely safe, it pays to do all you can to be as safe as possible.

An infection of any type of computer malware can lead to lost data, tons of lost time, and frustration.

I'm also a fan of history.  I firmly believe that those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.  With that in mind, today I'm advising you dear readers to head over the ZD Net and read their column on the history of malware.  It's a great read and you might just learn something too!  My hope in spending so much time discussing security is that it helps spur you to be more vigilant.

Follow this link to the article.  It's fascinating stuff!  

Monday, January 4, 2021

This Just In...Trump signs Pandemic Aid and Spending Bill, Averting Government Shutdown



-U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday signed into law a $2.3 trillion pandemic aid and spending package, restoring unemployment benefits to millions of Americans and averting a federal government shutdown in a crisis of his own making.


Trump, who leaves office on Jan. 20 after losing November’s election to President-elect Joe Biden, backed down from his earlier threat to block the bill, which was approved by Congress last week, after he came under intense pressure from lawmakers on both sides.


The Republican president, who golfed on Sunday and remained out of public view even as the government crisis loomed, had demanded that Congress change the bill to increase the size of stimulus checks for struggling Americans to $2,000 from $600 and also cut some other spending.


It was not immediately clear why Trump, who has refused to concede defeat to Biden, changed his mind on the stimulus package. His resistance had threatened to inject further chaos into the final stretch of his presidency.


After signing the bill behind closed doors at his beachside club, Trump sought to put the best face on his climb-down, saying he was signing the bill with “a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed.”


“Much more money is coming,” he insisted in a statement, though he provided nothing to back this promise.

And with less than a month left in office, Trump is expected to gain little or no traction with lawmakers to make changes.

White House officials have been tight-lipped about Trump’s thinking but a source familiar with the situation said some advisers had urged him to relent because they did not see the point of refusing.


Democrats have long been on board with the $2,000 payments but many Republicans have opposed it, making it unlikely that the figure will be revised upwards while Trump is in office.


Many economists agree the financial aid in the bill should be higher to get the economy moving again but say that immediate support for Americans hit by coronavirus lockdowns is still urgently needed.


Unemployment benefits being paid out to about 14 million people through pandemic programs lapsed on Saturday, but will be restarted now that Trump has signed the bill.


The package includes $1.4 trillion in spending to fund government agencies. If Trump had not signed the legislation, then a partial government shutdown would have begun on Tuesday that would have put millions of government workers’ incomes at risk.\


Americans are living through a bitter holiday season amid a pandemic that has killed nearly 330,000 people in the United States, with a daily death toll now repeatedly well over 3,000 people, the highest since the pandemic began.


The relief package also extends a moratorium on evictions that was due to expire on Dec. 31, refreshes support for small business payrolls, provides funding to help schools re-open and aid for the transport industry and vaccine distribution.


Global share prices ticked up in response to the news that Trump had signed the stimulus plan and backed away from a government spending crisis.

U.S. S&P futures and Japan’s Nikkei index gained around 0.4%, and spot gold prices rose nearly 1%. “It is positive for markets that we no longer have a chaos over stimulus, considering there was a chance of a partial government shutdown,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, chief strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management.


ABRUPT MOVE

Trump’s abrupt move to sign the bill came after most Republican lawmakers refused to back his call for changes to legislation they had already voted on.

Hours earlier, Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania told Fox News Sunday Trump wants “to be remembered for advocating for big checks, but the danger is he’ll be remembered for chaos and misery and erratic behavior if he allows this to expire.”


Republican officials were relieved that Trump had backed away from his veiled veto threat, saying it should help Republican Senate candidates David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in Jan. 5 Georgia runoff elections that will determine control of the U.S. Senate.


Trump noted that the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives planned to vote on Monday to increase coronavirus relief checks to individuals from $600 to $2,000, and said the Senate “will start the process” to approve higher payments.


U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a fellow Republican, said “I thank the President for signing this relief into law” but made no mention of any plans for a Senate vote.


Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi welcomed Trump’s signing as a “down payment on what is needed,” saying: “Now, the President must immediately call on Congressional Republicans to end their obstruction and to join him and Democrats in support of our stand-alone legislation to increase direct payment checks to $2,000.”


After months of wrangling, Republicans and Democrats agreed to the package last weekend, with the support of the White House.

Trump stunned Republicans and Democrats alike when he later said he was unhappy with the massive bill, which provides $892 billion in coronavirus financial relief.