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House approves development of practice management guidelines

November 03, 2014

by Kelly Soderlund

image of Dr. Creasey
Assessing the landscape: Dr. Jean Creasey, left, chair of the committee overseeing the project, talks with Dr. Ken Merritt, member of the Council on Ethics, Bylaws and Judicial Affairs, at an advisory committee meeting in March.
An ADA House of Delegates resolution gives the Council on Dental Practice the green light to oversee the development of a series of practice management guidelines to help dentists understand how to handle the business side of dentistry.

Under Res. 62H-2014, an advisory committee comprised of current members of CDP, other ADA councils and other key stakeholders will recommend to CDP the process for voluntary consensus-based, ethical guidelines in five areas: patients, the practice environment, dental practice team, technology and financial matters. The committee will identify and meet with experts in each of the subject areas to help provide input on the guidelines.

"Many dental students graduate school and, while they're skilled in dentistry, they lack certain skills that are necessary to be successful and efficient business managers," said Dr. Jean Creasey, CDP member and chair of the committee overseeing the project. "The Council on Dental Practice saw a great opportunity for the ADA to utilize its new Center for Professional Success to house additional content for dentists, old and new, who seek advice on everyday dental practice management issues. When dentists are more effective managers, I think it's a win for our patients, a win for our staff and, ultimately, a win for our profession."

In 2015, CDP will work on guidelines for issues related to patients and financial matters and intends to finish the remaining topics in 2016. Representatives from other ADA councils, staff and external stakeholders will review the guidelines before they're published. After the guidelines are published, CDP will update and maintain them.

"The consensus-driven, ethically based practice guidelines will offer ADA members easy access to resources that will help them address everyday dilemmas such as how to ethically utilize dental credit products in their offices or how to handle challenging staff situations," Dr. Creasey said. "On a very practical level, we also plan to offer a practice management self assessment tool that will help members analyze areas in their current practice management protocols where improvements may be desirable. We'll even direct them to ADA resources that can boost their knowledge in those areas."

CDP came up with the idea to develop practice management guidelines in response to member inquiries concerning practice management issues, most of which weren't covered in dental schools' curriculum. In March, CDP convened an ad hoc advisory committee to assess whether the ADA should develop ethically based, voluntary practice management guidelines for members.

In June, CDP surveyed practicing dentists to assess their interest in the topics and whether they feel guidelines would enhance the value of their ADA membership. More than 94 percent of respondents reported being "very" or "somewhat" interested in practice management guidelines. Recent graduates and new dentists showed a higher level of interest than dentists who had been in practice longer. About 92 percent of dentists said they believe the guidelines would have a positive impact on their value of their ADA membership.