Policy makers in a number of states are considering the creation of new types of licensed professionals who would work with dentists to deliver primary dental care to children and other underserved patients. A new report, It Takes a Team: How New Dental Providers Can Benefit Patients and Practices, examines the impact that hiring new types of providers — dental therapists and hygienist-therapists — would have on the productivity and profits of a private dental practice, where more than 90 percent of the nation's dentists work. The study also assesses the impact of dental hygienists, who are currently employed by most dental practices.
The report applies an economic tool that Pew commissioned, the Productivity and Profit Calculator, to evaluate the impact on dental practices that hire “allied providers." Individual dentists can use the calculator to evaluate the impact of allied providers on their own practices.
Key findings include:
- Allied providers can strengthen the productivity and financial stability of dental practices.
- Allied providers can help practices treat more Medicaid-insured patients in a financially sustainable way.
- Medicaid reimbursement rates play a critical role.
- Fully utilizing allied providers is key to realizing productivity and profit gains.