Volatile Costs Complicate Office Reopenings
A major issue for dentists in reopening practices after closing to limit the spread of COVID-19 is determining exactly what types of personal protective equipment (PPE) they will need, and in what quantities.
A major issue for dentists in reopening practices after closing to limit the spread of COVID-19 is determining exactly what types of personal protective equipment (PPE) they will need, and in what quantities. National and global shortages of PPE have led to huge volatility in prices, according to the Society for Healthcare Organization Procurement Professionals, an independent nonprofit formed earlier this year to analyze the impact of the surge in demand for PPE on the healthcare supply chain.1
The organization studied price markup on PPE for skilled nursing facilities and assisted living centers by comparing the prepandemic cost of eight supplies used in infection prevention with prices as of February 6, 2020.1 While dental offices are quite different from the facilities studied, oral health professionals are trying to source these same products — and face the same issue of pricing volatility due to shortages.
Understanding the costs of providing care when prices for key supplies are this volatile is challenging, to say the least. According to the latest dental practice benchmark report from Cain Watters & Associates,2 drugs and supplies were already among the largest direct expenses for all types of practices. If drug and supply costs increased substantially, it would have a chilling effect on net income and profits for offices already hard hit by the COVID-19 shutdown.
In response, the American Dental Association suggests practices use CDT code “D1999 — unspecified preventive procedure” to document and report the use and cost of additional PPE. The code can be used once per patient visit, and, even if denied by the payer, will help document the additional costs of PPE incurred during the pandemic.3
- Society for Healthcare Organization Procurement Professionals. Available at: htt/://cdn.cnn.com/cnn/2020/images/04/16/shopp.covid.ppd.costs.analys_s_.pdf. Accessed June 2, 2020.
- Cain Watters & Associates. How Does Your Dental Practice Compare? 2018 Edition. Available at: https://www.cainwatters.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/CWA-How-does-your-practice-compare-20182019-Digital6-8-19lo.pdf. Accessed June 2, 2020.
- American Dental Association. Statement on Third Party Payer Reimbursement for Costs Associated with Increased Standards for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Available at: https://success.ada.org/~/media/CPS/Files/COVID/%20ADA_Third_Party_Payer_Reimbursement_for_PPE.pdf. Accessed June 2, 2020.
From Decisions in Dentistry. June 2020;6(6):46.