DrBicuspid.com Practice Management Insider

Dear Practice Management Insider,

The mushrooming popularity of social media offers dentists some real advantages in terms of potential market reach, but it can also be a minefield of legal and professional pitfalls. Dentists are advised to use sites such as Facebook and Twitter to answer patients' questions and let them know about new treatments. But they should avoid blurring the boundaries of professional relationships with patients, experts caution.

Read more tips about how to use social media to your best advantage in our latest Practice Management Insider Exclusive.

In a related story, legal snares related to privacy, slander, libel, copyright, or false advertising can trip up dentists who post misleading claims, promotional videos, or patient testimonials on Facebook and Twitter, lawyers warn. Click here to learn how social media can help or hurt your practice.

In other Practice Management Community news, former patients of Allcare Dental & Dentures have filed a class-action lawsuit against the company, claiming Allcare knowingly took money from them and potentially thousands of other patients for services it never intended to deliver. Read more.

And dentists in Perth Amboy, NJ, say they are being driven out of business because they can't compete with a medical clinic that gets substantial state and federal subsidies. Click here to read why dentists in the community complain that the nonprofit Jewish Renaissance Medical Center has what they say is a dominant, anticompetitive advantage.

Meanwhile, to help patients struggling to pay for oral care during these tough economic times, some enterprising dentists have started offering membership programs that provide preventive care for set annual fees. Read more about customized programs that some dental practices are offering to uninsured patients as an alternative to conventional insurance or financing.

Midlevel provider controversy continues

Oral health advocates in Oregon are pushing for legislation that would create midlevel providers in a state where access to care has become a critical issue. But the Oregon Dental Association is ready to fight any such bill introduced in the next state legislative session. Click here to read more.

In a related story, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation is beginning to roll out a $16 million initiative to help five states develop midlevel providers programs similar to the dental health aide therapist (DHAT) program in Alaska. But dental associations in those states remain unconvinced that this approach will be safe and effective. Read about their concerns here.

And a recent study found that most private practitioners who hire midlevel providers can serve more patients while maintaining or improving their financial bottom line. Click here to examine the effects that hiring hygienists or dental therapists have on the productivity and profits of a private practice.

Finally, Medicaid providers in Iowa are working to become the first in the U.S. to obtain government incentives for switching to electronic health records (EHRs). The incentives are intended to defray the cost of implementing an EHR system. Click here to read how an Iowa dentist is in line to be the first in the state to take advantage of the incentives.

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