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Software companies may pass on CDT licensing fee to dentists

The Code on Dental Procedures and Nomenclature is valuable ADA intellectual property and a source of non-dues revenue from licensed users.

For many years the ADA has charged a number of different users an annual license fee for their business use of the Code. These users include third-party payers, speakers and practice management system vendors.

“We’ve recently received calls from dentists who say their practice system vendors have been charging their clients a separate fee for the Code, claiming that the ADA now requires them to pass their licensing costs on,” said Dr. Christopher Smiley, chair of the Council on Dental Benefit Programs. “Dentists should know that this is not true—the ADA has never included a cost pass-through in a Code license.”

Dr. Smiley also explained that a licensee may decide to unbundle its annual maintenance fee by, for example, separate billing for a Code update. The ADA has no legal right to prevent this.

Every dentist should know that when he or she purchases a copy of the CDT that it includes the right to use the Code in their practice—including manually entering new and revised procedure code information to update their practice management software.

Dr. Smiley adds, “Before purchasing practice management software, dentists should understand how Code updates are entered and the potential cost. Questions to ask the vendor include: Are updates part of a maintenance package? Are there any limitations on update entry by practice staff?”

The ADA recommends that dentists understand what features and services they are acquiring before purchasing a practice management software application for their office.