In this special Q&A episode of Talking with the Toothcop, Jacque and I will tackle questions we’ve been receiving from listeners. We want to preface this episode by saying that we never intend to promote our business with this podcast. First and foremost, we want to focus on educating the dental community about compliance. However, we’ve received so many questions about what we do that we thought we’d address them all in this episode! Listen to hear how I became The Toothcop, what exactly it is that we do, and some specific things to watch out for in your office.
Outline of This Episode
- [0:21] Answering Listener questions
- [1:45] How Duane got started in Dental Compliance
- [5:05] Starting a business that didn’t exist
- [8:30] The chief nerd at Dental Compliance Specialists
- [10:00] The business at the beginning
- [12:58] Building relationships with dental offices
- [19:11] Do everything we tell you to do
- [28:54] How to get your staff on board
- [35:59] We help monitor and train
- [40:45] What exactly is it that we do?
- [47:20] Chart and record audits
- [51:40] What happens when you don’t heed our advice
- [1:01:07] What you need to know about exclusion checks
- [1:08:50] Corporate Integrity Agreements (CIA)
- [1:10:55] Above all—don’t panic!
My journey from street cop to toothcop
People are often curious how I got into dental compliance. It doesn’t seem like a natural segue from being a deputy sheriff to a dental compliance specialist. However, it truly was a natural progression. After being a street cop, I had the opportunity to work for the state dental board investigating cases for them. I really was a toothcop—I still wore a gun and carried handcuffs when I walked into a dental office.
As I investigated dental fraud and other concerns that arose, I began to realize that I could do something to help prevent these issues from happening. These dental offices weren’t necessarily intending to commit fraud or allow patients to be harmed—they just didn’t know what they didn’t know. So I quit being a cop. Then I started reaching out to offices that I had investigated, offering to help them learn how to prevent what was wrong.
We started a business in a space that didn’t really exist. Even now, there is only a small group of people that do what we do. We were simply armed with an idea and blind faith that we could make it happen. We believe what we do matters and truly makes a difference in people’s lives—even if we can’t quantify it.
What exactly do we do at Dental Compliance Specialists?
When I dove headfirst into dental compliance I did a lot of traveling. I was in dental offices with my checklist in hand covering state board requirements, observing staff, and answering questions. We were continually adding in more checklists that covered OSHA, HIPAA compliance, infection control, and more. I would find issues, take notes, and train as I went along. I was going into offices every quarter and running into the same issues—no one was retaining what I taught them. Talk about frustrating!
I was on the verge of complete burnout and told Jacque I didn’t think I could do this anymore. If they don’t remember the training or implement changes, what was the point?
Jacque said “give me a year” and we got to work, brainstorming how we could streamline the process. Now, we have a system in place for everything. We broke our compliance training down into 12 modules. Each month a dental office is given a virtual module to cover. We leverage technology and do inspections in small pieces (i.e. one visit is just for radiology training). Doing this gave them manageable chunks to learn and retain, and we were interacting and answering questions monthly vs. quarterly.
It’s about building relationships based on confidentiality
Our entire business is based on confidentiality. We want to work with dental offices to improve their compliance, not penalize them for existing issues. We don’t disclose who we work with or what the compliance issues are. Even if clients permit us to share that we’ve worked with them, we won’t share anything we’ve done. We want to build trust to facilitate dialogue—to make you feel comfortable and not judged.
No one is perfect and no office is perfect. In all of the years we’ve been doing this, maybe 2-3 offices have come close to passing my initial compliance inspection. I’ve seen some pretty horrendous things in offices full of pretty great people. I remind them things are fixable and help them figure out how to implement changes and often see significant changes for the better in “before & afters”.
We can’t tell you how many patients or staff members didn’t get sick. We can’t tell you how many fines or recoupments we helped you avoid. But we can help give you peace of mind. We can train your staff to reach the highest level of compliance standards. You can rest easy knowing that you’ve done everything you can to protect your business and your patients.
Most common question: What is required vs. recommended?
This one just makes us shake our heads. We understand that some people are comfortable in gray areas and others prefer black and white. But we would never recommend something if it was just optional. Everything we put in our checklists and training modules help you obtain the highest level of compliance. It protects you, your staff, and your patients.
It’s not just about “best practices” anymore. You can get fined. You can go to jail. Even if you don’t have malicious intent, you will be held responsible for mistakes made. So we don’t skip steps. Our system for nailing down compliance failures and integrating guidelines to implement change is tested, tried, and true. So you need to ask yourself the question, “is it legal, ethical, and does it reflect my values? If the answer is no, it’s time to make some changes.
Jacque and I dive deep into specific questions covering chart and record audits, exclusion checks, corporate integrity agreements, and so much more—be sure to listen to this important and educational episode. We don’t want you to feel overwhelmed, but equipped. Above all, don’t panic. If some of these topics leave you with a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach reach out to us! We’d love to help.
Resources & People Mentioned
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