Can Dentistry Learn from the National Basketball Association (NBA)?

An interesting article titled “What the ADA can learn from the NBA” appears in the July 2015 issue of JADA by Marko Vujicic. The article discusses how the National Basketball Association (NBA) implemented some changes that are relevant to health care workers. What the NBA did was start reviewing and evaluating all referee decisions during the last 2 minutes of any close games. The NBA wanted to be more transparent, more accountable, and show that most calls by a referee are correct. The NBA publicly discloses the results of their review of the calls of any close games. No longer do they wait until controversy causes them to act and instead are proactive instead of reactive.

The author of the article feels

“…that the underlying trends toward increased transparency, accountability, data-driven metrics, and emphasis on quality and outcomes that drove the NBA’s decision are precisely the same forces that are radically transforming the health care system.”

What is occurring in health care is a movement away from a fee for service and provider focused model to a team based and patient centric model. He attributes some of this change due to the Affordable Care Act but other drivers for this change include out of pocket costs for healthcare by patients and employers in the U.S. having to pay for private health care insurance for their workers.

The author than begins to discuss the value agenda in dentistry and how the movement has been slower than in other healthcare areas. Even so some progress has been made. An example is provided

“For example, dentists within Permanente Dental Associates, a provider group within Kaiser Permanente Northwest, have a portion of their compensation tied to patient satisfaction, accessibility of care, providing evidence-based care, and integrating with primary medical care.”

It is well known that a lot of a person’s health is tied to some  things outside of the physicians or dentists care. This includes what they eat, if they exercise, their genes, and other factors. So it is not clear how to directly tie some outcomes of a patient with their doctor or dentist. Even so the author feels that improving efficiency and delivering the best patient outcomes is very important for dentists to focus on going forward. He likes the fact that the NBA took it upon themselves to improve the quality of their game and do this publicly without letting a third party dictate.

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