Dental Sleep Medicine - Moving from Volume to Value

More than just a mouthguard!!!

All too often, when introducing sleep medicine into a dental practice, the group contracted will lure the practice in with unrealistic promises of high-volume treatment numbers and lose sight of the big picture...patient focus and value!!

Physician referrals must champion the cause -

It is certain that your value-based incentive program will fail without proper physician support!! You need key leaders on board early to help build communication, trust, and transparency. These champions must understand and be able to engage referral sources in behavior changes, support critical infrastructure investments, and safeguard the viability of the sleep program!! 

Test and measure the right things -

Complex design, lack of clear and actionable measures, and poor goal alignment can lead to failed efforts. Step back and deliberately consider the goals of your value-based compensation program. Link physician incentives to organizational strategy. Be certain to ensure that high individual and team performance are rewarded!!! The best plans complement quality outcomes goals with financial, access, and patient satisfaction metrics!!

Quality practices are motivated by more than money -

The organizations that earn the most in almost any field are the ones that perform the best work!!! Money is the by-product, but the work itself is the purpose. Most dentists are committed to serving their patients’ best interests and providing high quality care. Data that compares dentists performance against peers can be very motivating. 

Pay-for-value isn’t just another compensation increase -

Dentists need to see opportunities if their sleep compensation plan is to achieve its strategic goals. Earning more in a pay-for-value model may be possible, but in exchange for the opportunity, a properly designed value-based compensation model means sharing risk for quality-based outcomes. Plan development and review with a qualified dental compensation specialist can help keep your system out of the news. 

Balance productivity and value-based measures -

Fee-for-service isn’t dead yet, and most dentists pay is still rightfully tied to productivity. However, in the dental sleep model, as market forces drive toward value-based reimbursement, you will need to continually balance individual productivity measures with quality objectives. 

One-size-fits-all is not the solution -

You can’t expect every sleep medicine compensation plan to have the same mix of productivity and quality metrics—many plans will vary. One of the best ways to ensure a fair and equitable plan is to seek input from both vendors and competing sleep treatment providers. If your plan doesn’t account for practice and patient differences, you can expect unhappy participants. 

Be intentional with the pace of change -

Remember that change is difficult for most people, including most dental practices! Move too fast or without proper communication and you can quickly create dissatisfaction. Move too slowly and you may lose market position as competitors attract payers and top talent. You can manage pace of change by staging your implementation by specialty, newly acquired practices, or newly employed dentists!!

Constant assessment and modification are key - 

While your sleep medicine program probably won’t achieve perfection in the beginning, don’t let that stop the transition!! There are many ways to refine the plan. Sleep Medicine Study Clubs like those at Neirman Practice Management are good for direct feedback. A cross-functional compensation committee can provide oversight and input. And benchmarking your plan against peer data provides valuable insight!!! Over time your data will improve, market conditions will change, and behaviors will adapt. #weshouldtalk