Delta Dental of Michigan

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Delta Dental's Research and Data Institute

Technology Background


Driving Innovation to Improve Products and Services

In 2005, Delta Dental established the Research and Data Institute to drive innovation to improve our products and services. Through the Institute, our staff of actuaries, statisticians, epidemiologists, economists and dentists work together to effectively analyze data to update our plan designs. We also partner with researchers from some of the nation's leading universities to closely monitor advances in science and examine treatment outcomes, trends and research. Our Institute resources, coupled with our extensive data collection, help us to provide our clients with cost-savings, powerful tools, and new benefits that promote the link between oral and overall health.

Unequalled Data Collection and Capabilities Lead to Cost-savings

Because Delta Dental has specialized in dental benefits for more than 50 years, we have developed a collection of data that's comparable in size to the estimated printed content of the U.S. Library of Congress. And since we've retained many of our large client groups for decades, we have the capability to track members over extended periods of time. This yields valuable insights into oral health status and treatment patterns, which have been reported in research articles published in juried professional journals.

Our data warehouse and Institute capabilities have allowed us to improve business processes to make them more efficient and cost-effective for our customers and members. For example, we use our industry-leading, sophisticated data-mining tool called InFocus to review dental claims data and identify dentists with unusual practice patterns.

The melding of scientific processes with sophisticated technology and expert staff has resulted in a cost and quality assurance program that's unequalled in the industry.

Research and Data-Line Graph

Powerful Tools for the Information our Customers Need

Our capabilities provide other important applications for our clients. Based on our experience in interpreting data, we've developed an advanced, data-driven tool to instantly provide clients the information they need to evaluate their dental benefit plans. Client Knowledge, a service available through our Benefit Manager Toolkit (for our experience-rated groups), makes it possible for clients to review and customize Delta Dental reports at their convenience. In addition, our data warehouse gives us the ability to provide unique, customized analyses upon request.

Also, our data resources enable us to develop our extensive networks of participating dentists in areas where our clients need them. We can test and evaluate potential dentist network configurations in terms of cost and access. Our staff routinely reviews data on individual dentists' practices, fee patterns and numbers of Delta Dental members in specific geographic areas.

The Oral/Overall Health Linkage

As research continues to validate a link between oral and overall health, we've made evaluating related scientific evidence a major priority of our Research and Data Institute. Doing so provides the basis for determining what changes in benefit designs are beneficial because of their potential to improve the health of our members and reduce our clients' costs—medical costs, as well as dental.

Through our Institute, we are able to apply data and scientific findings to bring our clients and members exceptional coverage that improves their health and maximizes benefit dollars.