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ADA begins drafting strategic plan for 2015-20


Dr. Israelson
The ADA is entering a new era, not only in its strategic plan cycle, but in how it helps members navigate the changes in practicing dentistry.

The profession has changed since the last strategic plan was approved for 2010-14, and it's not just due to the economy. Factors have been in play for years, culminating in changes in who is going to the dentist and how often and how much people are spending on their dental care.

Members of the ADA Board of Trustees Strategic Plan Steering Committee recognized this and wanted to have all of the facts, from both ADA and outside experts, before they solidified a strategic plan for 2015-20.

The committee charged the ADA's Health Policy Resources Center, a leading authority and think tank on the U.S dental care system, to manage the environmental scan. For specific research, HPRC used a combination of external consultants and internal researchers to complete the analysis.

An independent broad environmental analysis was also commissioned from Diringer and Associates, a leading health care consulting firm.  In addition, a group of renowned thought leaders provided insight into the analysis.

"This is a critical moment in dentistry and not a time for complacency. Understanding the key forces at work will assist the profession in defining its own destiny. Ignoring what is happening in the health and consumer environment will mean ceding the future of the profession to others," Diringer wrote in its report.

Steering committee members spent two days listening to dental and health economists, CEOs of dental service organizations and other outside experts to understand all of the information put forth.

"I think it was eye-opening," said Dr. Hilton Israelson, chair of the Strategic Plan Steering Committee. "It's something that every member needs to understand and needs to know that there are going to be changes in the future; changes in the way dentistry is practiced, changes in individual ownerships of a practice, changes in efficiencies of running a practice, among others."

As chair, Dr. Israelson, who is also a member of the ADA Board of Trustees, will lead the strategic planning process. And then it will be up to the ADA leaders to disseminate the plan with possibly a new way of thinking for the Association, he said.

"It's a time that could be very daunting but it's a time where we also may have some opportunities," Dr. Israelson said. "We have to go into the future understanding the environmental changes and strategize accordingly."

The steering committee has already met twice with a facilitator and ADA senior staff and has put together a basic outline for the plan, Dr. Israelson said. There's another meeting scheduled for October, when the committee will delve deeper into the objectives that are part of the plan, he said.

There will be an open forum at the ADA Annual Session in New Orleans to solicit input from members on what they'd like to see in a new strategic plan. The steering committee also plans to hold focus groups at Annual Session with members.

In December, the steering committee will inform ADA council chairs and vice chairs about the plan to help them understand and implement it within  their respective councils, Dr. Israelson said. In February, a stakeholders meeting will be held, where more members will be invited to participate in a daylong discussion of the plan, he said.

"The goal is to get a first draft of the strategic plan out by March," said Dr. Israelson, who added that "this is needed as it is the strategic plan that drives the budget for the Association. The ADA will begin preparing the 2015 budget in April."

Beginning the Sept. 16 print issue, the ADA News will run a three-part series outlining what the environmental scan showed.