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'Year of transformation'

Association accomplishments reviewed: First in a series

'Year of transformation'
Dr. Tankersley: Daily operations were boosted during past year.

As annual session approaches, the ADA takes account of its year. In part one of a two-part series, several ADA leaders offer insight on the Association's accomplishments in streamlining operations and enhancing communications, advocacy and membership activities from June 2009 to June 2010.

It was "a year of transformation" for the American Dental Association.

From implementing infrastructure improvements to developing a long-term strategic plan, ADA staff and leadership completed dozens of accomplishments to transform the Association's daily operations, said ADA President Ron Tankersley.

"This year the ADA faced many difficult challenges, both financially and politically," said Dr. Tankersley. "Nevertheless, our executive director and professional staff made important infrastructure improvements that will increase our effectiveness as we go forward. In addition to filling several critical senior staff positions, we initiated a zero-based budget process tied to our new Strategic Plan."

Dr. Walker
Dr. Walker
Operations accomplishments also targeted technology, he said.

"In addition to rolling out a new ADA.org in late March, we determined the improvements needed in our information technology systems to increase accounting efficiency, improve financial reporting and develop a secure website for sharing important documents with the House of Delegates," the president added.

Despite a troubled economy, the ADA is also able to report some noteworthy financial accomplishments—"expanding the Give Kids A Smile program and reversing the downward trend in corporate sponsorships," Dr. Tankersley added. "We also further refined the on-boarding process for new trustees, council chairs and commission chairs to better prepare them for their leadership roles in an increasingly complex environment. Last, but not least, there was a major effort to reorganize the ADA Foundation this year to increase its efficiency and effectiveness."

Other operations accomplishments include:

  • Managing the wind-down of ADAidm, including customer refunds and vendor settlements;
  • Working to develop significant industry support for a key ADA project;
  • Developing best practices for teleconference and webinar coordinators to reduce problems and improve effectiveness;
  • Identifying prospective association management software vendors to streamline commerce and order management processes;
  • Releasing the DENTPIN application to provide dental students with a unique identifier throughout their career instead of utilizing their Social Security number;
  • Implementing an American Dental Political Action Committee online giving application.

Dr. Green
Dr. Green
"These accomplishments are testimony to the perseverance and dedication of our incredible professional staff and volunteers," Dr. Tankersley said. "I am grateful for the contributions that they have made individually and collectively during these difficult times."

Successfully advocating for member dentists, the profession as a whole and patients nationwide as health care reform begins to take shape, the ADA completed several significant accomplishments in legislation and advocacy, said Dr. Mark Walker, chair of the ADA Council on Government Affairs.

"We had a busy legislative year as the ADA worked hard to assure that health care reform included significant funding for oral health prevention and wellness as well as increased support for dental education and training," Dr. Walker said. "The rest of this session, we will continue to pursue bills that will save practices money by ensuring that dentists are protected from excessive regulation, including the Red Flags rule, and a bill to overturn a new requirement that businesses file more 1099 tax forms."

Advocacy efforts also included:

  • Seeking increased funding for federal dental programs affecting research and science and access for underserved populations (including Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program) and lobbying Congress and federal agencies on a variety of public health issues, such as tobacco use, diet and nutrition, and meth mouth;
  • Protecting dentists' right to use all approved dental restorative materials;
  • Educating policymakers about access-to-care barriers over and above workforce issues;
  • Assisting state dental associations that sought to amend insurance laws to prohibit plans from dictating fees for noncovered services.

The Association also saw significant accomplishments in communications, marketing and brand management, said Dr. Edward Green, chair of the ADA Council on Communications.

"The past year has proven to be a pivotal year for the ADA Division of Communications," said Dr. Green. "Positioning the division's four departments under the direction of a managing vice president has resulted in greater synergy and utilization of resources as well as consolidation of expertise."

Dr. Buckenheimer
Dr. Buckenheimer
High-visibility initiatives like the State Public Affairs Program and the launch of the new ADA.org offered "immediately apparent results with even greater dividends to the ADA in the future," said Dr Green. "Ongoing activities such as providing advocacy support to 20 states in the State Public Affairs Program, introducing a new and user-friendly ADA.org and conducting a survey that gave the ADA a current database of public attitudes about oral health care issues will be invaluable in our marketing and branding activity."

ADA members have shown that they value ADA membership and the benefits they receive from it, said Dr. Terry Buckenheimer, chair of the ADA Council on Membership.

"The ADA's efforts to communicate the value and benefits of tripartite membership have been greatly improved through the new marketing collaborative program and the development of the web-to-print feature and the Find-a-Dentist section of ADA.org." said Dr. Buckenheimer.

The marketing collaborative program offered constituent societies early reinstatement, half-year dues recruitment and retention outreach to help retain members. Forty-five constituent societies have participated so far in 2010.

Part two of this report, focusing on the accomplishments of ADA agencies including Dental Practice, Education, Science, Global Affairs, Legal Affairs and Publishing, will appear in the Sept. 20 issue of the ADA News.