In December, we launched a tool that sends questions from Member Dentists directly to me. The questions I’ve received have been thoughtful and are helping me understand the ways you want to see our relationship improve. In this Q&A I’ll address a few of the general questions we receive each month.
When will you change the culture of WDS and upper management's opinion of dentists?
The culture change has already started. For the past few months, I’ve personally met with nearly 50 dentists in Washington to better understand what it takes to run a successful practice and to learn how DDWA can be a better partner. What’s clear to me from my visits is that dentistry is a challenging and rewarding vocation. To be successful, dentists need to wear many hats – skilled clinician, small business owner, technologist, human resources leader, and patient counselor. I have a great deal of respect for the individuals I have met and for the profession through my conversations.
It is also clear that delivering on our DDWA Mission to improve oral health and overall health in Washington requires a strong partnership with dentists built on a foundation of empathy, respect and trust. Rebuilding our partnership will take time but I am committed to a future where our differences are few, we are aligned on our shared mission, and we are working together to improve the health of our shared patients.
Our Senior Management Team has been discussing the learnings from my visits, ideas to improve our partnership, and the culture of respect we need to establish. In March our employees will receive “Providers as Partners” training to begin moving our team to the culture we seek.
How are you going to improve our relationship, and actually allow better communication to discuss the problems at hand?
I believe improving our relationship starts with listening to feedback from our Member Dentists. To ensure dentists in all types of practices and all tenure groups have a voice, I am meeting with a wide variety of dentists across the state. These meetings provide insight into the past relationship between our organization and dentists, the changes happening in the dental industry, concrete ideas on what dentists hope will change in our future, and advice for me. I recognize that a strong partnership is only possible if both parties have a voice. As such, we are developing more opportunities for you to provide input and for two-way dialogue, including:
- Ongoing communication directly from me as I learn more. My communication will come to you directly through email from my new inbox, AskMark@DeltaDentalWA.com. You can reply to this inbox with questions and ideas. We regularly review these questions and will respond to them directly or through blog posts.
- Messages from Mark on the Provider blog
- LinkedIn, using our Delta Dental of Washington LinkedIn page
- Focus groups on targeted topics with Member Dentists and with Dental Office Staff
- Expansion of the Member Advisory Panel to include representation across the state.
- Ongoing Meetings with individual dentists and study clubs (please reach out to your Professional Relations Representative if you would like to schedule a visit)
- Our Annual Meeting in November
What are you planning to do about our Delta Dental fees?
As you would expect, reimbursement has been an important topic in every conversation I’ve had with Member Dentists. The conversations have focused on the challenges of managing a successful business while practice costs rise and reimbursement rates across the industry remain flat and on fee equity across providers. The problem is complex as we evaluate the needs of our Member Dentists, the needs of the groups that purchase Delta Dental plans and the competitive environment we face.
We are too early in the analysis to give you an answer to this question but you have my commitment that reimbursement is a priority for me and my leadership team. I am equally committed to assessing our own administrative costs, seeking opportunities to improve our efficiency through automation and process improvement. As we continue to review aspects of both practice costs and reimbursement we will seek input from Members.
Would you be willing to have a meet and greet with our dental society?
Yes. My team is happy to work with you to schedule time to meet. The meetings I’ve had so far with our dentists have been exceptional! If you would like to request an appearance by me at your study club, dental society event, or 1:1 by phone call or visit, please reach out to your Professional Relations Representative. They have time frames that I am available and know my travel schedule throughout 2019.
If we’re not able to meet, please drop me a note with any questions, concerns or feedback to AskMark@DeltaDentalWA.com.
Thank you for your questions and allowing me the opportunity to work with you to improve our future together.
If you would like to submit a question email AskMark@DeltaDentalWA.com, or complete the form below.