NADP Knowledge Center
The Impact of COVID-19 on the Dental Industry
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the US healthcare system, and the dental industry is no exception. When the pandemic rapidly escalated in March and April 2020, many states banned elective dental procedures, including routine examinations and preventive care. This was part of a broader effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus and preserve personal protective equipment (PPE) for use in fighting COVID-19. In May, many of these state prohibitions expired and dental practices began to reopen for elective care, albeit with a variety of restrictions. As of January 2021, however, only 43 percent of practices reported “business as usual” in terms of patient volume, according to a poll conducted by the Health Policy Institute of the American Dental Association. This decreased volume is likely a result of patient reluctance to visit the dentist combined with reduced operating capacity to prepare the office between appointments. It is also indicative of the decline in US dental care spending during the pandemic and suggests that patients are continuing to postpone routine dental services, putting their overall health at risk. Drawing on the nation’s largest repository of private healthcare claims data, this session will present a claims-based analysis of utilization of dental services to explore how dental care has rebounded, or failed to rebound, after the beginning of the pandemic.
The analysis will:
- Compare trends in dental service utilization before, during and after the peak months of the COVID-19 pandemic,
- Identify trends in oral health issues, such as dental caries and periodontal infections, resulting from deferred preventive dental services,
- Examine trends in US dental care spending throughout the pandemic.
Specific data inquiries will include top procedure codes and diagnoses, reduction in elective service utilization (e.g., implants, periodontal bone surgery), changes in the number of root canals performed, growing requests for mouth guards, efficiency within dental visits (i.e., multiple services for one claim for one patient), PPE costs for dental visits, and the rise of teledentistry, among others. The information presented in this session will be useful to stakeholders throughout the healthcare sector, particularly dentists and other oral healthcare providers, as well as payors, policy makers and researchers.
Chief Information Officer
Ali Russo is national healthcare non profit FAIR Health’s chief information officer. She has over 25 years of experience in information technology, including over 20 years in healthcare data, analytics and product development. Previously, Ali was with McKesson, where she had many roles, including responsibility for the Analytics Services team under the Health Solutions division. As Director of Analytics Services, she focused on bringing actionable analytics to the healthcare sector based on allocated claims data.