Tag Archives: Donna Wix

Zombie statistics keep false health notions alive

A zombie statistic is a false or misleading statistic, often reanimated from studies conducted many years ago and now printed as truth without citation.

Well-constructed prevalence studies on health conditions require large populations to produce statistically relevant results. The rarer the disease, the bigger the required population. The expense and effort to accurately assess the prevalence of a rare disease is beyond the reach of most study budgets. As a result, zombie-like rare disease prevalence estimates may not have a basis in reality. In addition, publications rarely segment prevalence rates by U.S. health insurance market (commercial, Medicaid, Medicare, individual) even though sometimes significant differences in prevalence may exist among different covered populations. The United States incentivizes the development of drugs to treat rare diseases through the Orphan Drug Act of 1983, which defines a rare disease as having fewer than 200,000 individuals affected.

In this article, Milliman’s Donna Wix and David Williams used real-world data to calculate the age-adjusted prevalence rate for three diseases: rheumatoid arthritis, which is uncommon but not a rare disease by the Orphan Drug Act definition; ulcerative colitis, which could be considered a rare disease depending on which source is cited; and hemophilia, for which an antihemophilic factor was approved in 2010 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the 1983 Orphan Drug Act. They then compared these results to zombie statistics commonly cited.

What are the benefits of teledentistry for the dental industry to consider?

Telehealth services come in many different forms, such as live videoconferencing or other real-time interactions, store-and-forward transmissions in which information is electronically transmitted to a practitioner who evaluates cases at a later time, remote patient monitoring by providers not in the patient’s location, and services using mobile communications devices.

Telehealth and teledentistry in particular provide a value proposition for many stakeholders within the dental industry. Teledentistry can aid in reducing dental claim costs, provide opportunities to grow individual practices, expand services to the underserved, and aid in the management of patients with chronic conditions.

For 2018, the American Dental Association (ADA) has added two teledentistry procedure codes: D9995 for synchronous teledentistry in which there is real-time interaction, and D9996 for asynchronous teledentistry in which recorded health information is sent to a practitioner to evaluate outside of real-time interaction. The ADA’s guides to using these codes indicated that teledentistry should not be thought of as a procedure but rather as a way to deliver services that treat, monitor, or otherwise engage patients.

In this article, Milliman’s Joanne Fontana and Donna Wix explore the value proposition that teledentistry could provide to dental plans, dental providers, disease management programs, and populations lacking adequate oral healthcare. They conducted a literature search on teledentistry innovations and used Milliman’s internal data sources to assess the cost impact of such products and services.