A Conversation with Paul T. Sheils, CEO of P&R Dental Strategies, LLC

P&R Dental Strategies, a New Capital Partners portfolio company, recently launched a first-of-its-kind quality measurement and recognition program in the dental industry. We talked to P&R Dental CEO, Paul T. Sheils, about this groundbreaking program and its potential impact on the field.

New Capital Partners: Congratulations on the launch of the DentaQual® Leaders in Quality™ recognition program! DentaQual gives users objective, data-driven quality measures instead of testimonials and surveys to determine the quality of dental care. Why is it important and unique to measure quality this way?

Paul Sheils: When I first joined P&R in 2015, I learned quickly that measuring individual dentist quality was a challenge that needed to be addressed. Data-driven quality measurement tools for medical doctors and hospitals have been around for medical doctors for years, but not so in dental. Dental consumers and other decision-makers were limited to sporadic, highly subjective “Yelp-like” testimonials and reviews of individual consumers’ experiences at the dental office, which, while important, do not provide any objective, data-driven insights into clinical quality.

DentaQual and the Leaders in Quality recognition program leverage the data in DentaBase®, our multi-payer dental claims database with over 2.8 Billion dental procedures and data on virtually every one of the nearly 200,000 practicing U.S. dentists. DentaQual ranks dentists across multiple categories of quality metrics, producing statistical rankings of utilization patterns, treatment history, adherence to clinical protocols and other metrics that demonstrate statistically superior behavior when compared to their peers.

P&R’s DentaQual and the Leaders in Quality EliteStar™ awards program are industry firsts and are certain to transform the way dental quality is measured in the country.

Why are data and analytics crucial to the dental industry and the larger healthcare industry today?

As Peter Drucker famously said, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” When large amounts of data are available, in-depth studies of organizational efficiency, processes and patient care become possible. For a long time, the medical industry has enjoyed a wealth of data that has not only improved operational efficiencies at healthcare providers and insurance plans, but also improved the quality of patient care. While the dental industry has long understood the importance of this data, only recently and with the help of DentaBase data and the analyses P&R Dental Strategies provides, are dental stakeholders beginning to benefit from the keen insights and data-driven conclusions that big data and analytics provide. In addition, DentaBase data and DentaQual measurement tools provide the data and computational foundation for the value-based care initiatives that have been missing from the dental industry.

What is P&R’s motivation behind giving out the DentaQual EliteStar Dentist Awards?

We believe that high-quality dental care deserves to be recognized, which is why we created the DentaQual EliteStar Dentist Awards. The EliteStar program leverages the massive data in DentaBase to run sophisticated statistical assessments of utilization patterns, treatment history, adherence to clinical protocols and other metrics to determine which dentists demonstrate statistically superior behavior when compared to their peers. The DentaQual EliteStar program is an industry first — one that provides an objective, data-driven assessment platform from a trusted third party. This can be a powerful marketing tool for a dentist’s practice. Patients are always searching for the best dental care, and an award from an independent third-party signals to patients that the dentist is committed to providing the highest level of quality dental care in the country. For our insurance plan clients, DentaQual and the EliteStar awards can (1) help demonstrate to their employer customers that they have the highest-performing dentists in their provider network, (2) act as a tool to identify and recruit high-quality dentists to their network, and (3) provide their members with data-driven dentist quality rankings to help them make more informed healthcare decisions.

What do the winners receive?

The EliteStar dentists receive an attractive, embossed DentaQual EliteStar Dentist award certificate suitable for framing and display in their office. This is a very visible tool the EliteStar dentists can use to show existing patients their industry recognition and commitment to quality. The awardees are also listed on our special DentaQual Leaders in Quality program website at DentaQualLeadersInQuality.com, where they can be discovered by consumers searching for quality dentists in their state. DentaQual EliteStar dentists also receive a digital “badge” they can display on their practice website, social media accounts and printed patient materials to promote that they were recognized as one of the top dentists in their state. We’ve already started to see awardees promoting their DentaQual EliteStar status on their websites and creating buzz between peers at industry conferences, so there is clearly growing excitement about it.

 

DentaQual leverages data in the DentaBase. What makes DentaBase so critical to determining the quality of dental care for dentists across the country?

Providing objective, data-driven quality measures requires lots of data. With over 65 national and regional dental insurance plans contributing data each month to DentaBase, the database now contains over 2.8 Billion dental procedures and has current data on over 93% of the active dentists in the U.S., making DentaBase® by far the largest database of its kind in the industry. Importantly, we are adding over 30 million claims each month to the database, so this critical asset, and thereby our distinct competitive advantage, continues to grow. The depth and breadth of the data in DentaBase enable us to provide not only data-driven, objective quality measurement of dentists, but also keen, data-driven business insights on all aspects of the dental industry.

Which part of this recognition program are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of our team’s highly professional, rigorous and disciplined approach to building and vetting the DentaQual platform and the EliteStar awards program.

What do you love most about working at P&R Dental Strategies?

The team, the culture and the market opportunity. This is the fifth company I’ve run, and I can say with confidence that none of the others had the unique combination of an outstanding team, a high-energy, collaborative and productive company culture, and a remarkable market opportunity.

Describe the partnership between P&R Dental Strategies and New Capital Partners.

New Capital Partners has been an excellent partner in our journey at P&R, providing strong financial support, expert strategic guidance and highly useful management tools, training and support.

What has been the most beneficial part of the relationship with New Capital Partners?

The recognition by, and support from, NCP that we are at our core a “start-up” with a unique blend of a 20-year old (and growing) service business and a much newer “informatics” business with dominant (and growing) big data and analytics assets that can be leveraged across multiple markets.