Messages from Mark: Small Steps

Messages from Mark: Small Steps

Over the last few months, I’ve learned a lot about what Member Dentists want to see improved in our partnership. I’ve heard many great suggestions and comments on how we can better work together to improve oral health across Washington. Through these discussions we’ve created a long list of suggestions and we are systematically reviewing each suggestion to determine if we can make a change. We have made a few quick changes and have added some additional speed/emphasis to several actions we have already started. We believe these actions will have a positive impact on our relationship and your practices. While the actions are small steps, we need to start somewhere.

Here are a few examples of changes we’ve made:

  • Reduced the time it takes to process Predeterminations. I’ve heard from Member Dentists that the longer it takes for patients to receive a response on how treatment will be covered, the more likely the patients are to delay or even skip the treatment. Based on feedback from you, we changed the way we process predeterminations to reduce the time it takes for you to receive a determination from us. By reorganizing our workflow and increasing the priority level for predeterminations, we have reduced the average time it takes to process a predetermination from 19 days in February to 3 days by the end of March. We hope you are seeing this improvement in your offices.

  • Relaunched our Maximum Wellness Plan for Customer groups 100+. Dentists have expressed their concerns with the lack of an increase in annual benefit maximums within most group policies. With Maximum Wellness, each year that a member patient uses their preventive benefit, their annual maximum increases enabling the patient to afford higher cost treatments should the need arise down the line. We believe this plan has the dual benefit of incenting patients to focus on prevention and providing a richer benefit when needed.

  • Investigated your requests for policy changes and are working to make improvements. I’ve heard from many Member Dentists that some our policies feel out of date, are overly restrictive, or require too much information which adds time to your already busy schedules. My teams have gathered your requests and suggestions for policy improvements and are reviewing them in conjunction with our group Customer contracts and with the Delta Dental Plans Association (DDPA) guidelines. We’re working to identify changes we can make based on your requests, that will improve your experience and reduce the amount of paperwork we require.

  • Improved the time it takes to add a location and become a Member Dentist. I also heard from dentists that 4-6 weeks to become a Member Dentist is too long. This month, we removed the 4-6 weeks from our vocabulary and are delivering an average 18-day turnaround for a dentist to join our network or add a new location. We will continue to work to accelerate this process.

  • Worked with you to update the printed benefit summary from our website. Earlier this month we updated our website and asked for feedback on the new design from Member Dentists. You let us know that the printed benefit and eligibility summary had too many pages and needed to be simplified / clearer. We took your feedback and made improvements the following week. Please let us know if you have additional suggestions.

My teams and I are working on improvements/suggestions both big and small and I have asked the team to deliver at least five wins for member dentists a month. We are committed to improving our partnership with you. We want patients to use their benefits, and we want them to receive the quality care that we know our Member Dentists provide. While it may take time, I do believe we can work to define and build a better future together.

If you have ideas, suggestions or comments, I’d love to hear them. Drop me a line to

Mark Mitchke

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