Kathy Culbreth is currently a Data Analyst with <a href="http://www.net32.com">Net32.com</a> and an occasional blog contributor for ModernPractice.org. With her background in Industrial Engineering and Business, Ms. Culbreth spent over 8 years working with dental and medical practices in the areas of implementation, training and support for a leading practice management software provider and well as providing practice management consulting services.

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Here Comes 2013 and the New Medical Device Tax

New Medical Device Tax 2013
There has been a great deal of concern in the dental community about the effect of the Medical Device Tax. This new excise tax is part of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2012, which will force manufacturers and importers of medical devices to pay a tax of 2.3% of gross sales of certain medical devices.  On December 7th, the IRS published its final rules on the new tax –IRS New Taxes, finalized the definition of “taxable medical device” and clarified exemptions.  The picture of how this new tax will affect the dental community is now a bit clearer.

What is a “Medical Device” for tax purposes?

The IRS left the definition of a medical device up to the FDA.  The key to taxation is registration with the FDA.  All manufacturers, producers, and importers of medical devices must register with the FDA and submit a list of the medical devices that they manufacture, produce, or import.  These “listed” medical devices are identified as “taxable medical devices” and are subject to the new 2.3% tax.

Dentists and other licensed practitioners who prescribe or administer devices, and who manufacture these devices solely for use in the course of their professional practice are not required to register with the FDA and are thus exempt from the tax, meaning dentist will not be responsible for collecting, reporting, or paying the new 2.3% tax.  Many of the products purchased and used by dentists, however, will be taxable, including restorative materials, hand instruments, surgical instruments, and endodontic filling materials.

Dental laboratories are also generally exempt from registering with the FDA, unless they import, and their domestically made crowns, bridges, dentures, veneers and retainers will not be subject to the tax. The materials they use, however, will be taxable, including alloys, ceramic, resins, stock abutments, and individual denture teeth.

Which Medical Devices are excluded?

 The new tax allows a “retail exemption” of many medical devices.  Any device on the FDA list with the letters “OTC” (over the counter) in front of its name is clearly excluded from the tax.  Additionally, the safe harbor retail exemption applies to any device commonly purchased by the general public at retail stores for individual use.  The IRS provides several example cases of applying their “facts and circumstances” approach to determine if a device qualifies for the retail exemption.  They explain why items such as cotton tip applicators and adhesive bandages are exempt and the same logic can be applied to power toothbrushes, manual toothbrushes, oral rinses, denture adhesives and cleaners, and many other items used in a dental practice.

Who will pay the Medical Device tax?

 After analyzing the new law, the ADA estimates that there are approximately 130 taxable medical devices used in a typical dental practice. While the tax will be payable by manufacturers and importers of taxable devices, it will also result in some increased costs for dental labs, dentists, and patients.  Indirectly, we will all pay this tax.

Industry groups have urged Congress to repeal or delay implementation of the tax, arguing that it could cost jobs and stifle innovation. The tax is estimated to collect $29 billion over 10 years from the medical device industry.

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Act now, purchase your medical and dental devices at Net32.com

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Why you need Google Plus

Have you set up a Google Plus Business Page for your practice? If you have not yet embraced this social media tool, now is the time! Many practices are reluctant to invest in yet another social media platform.  After all, isn’t Facebook time consuming enough?  Google Plus, however, is one that needs your attention. After all, Google is still the search engine king.  So if being found on Google matters to you, then Google Plus Business Pages should matter to you.

To set up you Google Plus Page, click here.

Expect to see more changes and updates from Google in the coming months. Recently Google changed Google Place to Google+ Local. This is the first step in what Google says will, “improve the way people discover new businesses, rediscover places they love and share them with their friends across the web.” In the next phase, Google plans to merge your Google+ Local and your Google Plus Business Page to create a “Google+ business identity” that will help you be found in search, maps and mobile applications.

From a search standpoint, Google Plus has the potential to be a hugely powerful platform. You could begin to see the benefits after investing just thirty minutes of your time to set up your page.  If you have ever invested money for search engine optimization, joining Google Plus is an easy choice.

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Facebook Tips to Improve Engagement

Are you in need of some Facebook marketing inspiration? Before you judge the value of your social media marketing efforts, be sure you are fully embracing the platform.  Here are a few tips to help you ensure you are delivering what your patients expect.

#1 Use a Facebook Business Page

How is your Facebook page set up?  You should be using a Facebook business page for your practice, not your personal profile.  You may choose to run this page yourself or assign that duty to a trusted employee.  It’s common for business pages to have multiple page administrators.  Just be sure you are not using your own personal profile for your business.

#2 Set up your vanity URL

If you’ve got 25 Likes or more, you can set up a Facebook URL that makes it easier for your community to find you.  Go to your Facebook page and look at the URL in the address bar.  If your address is www.facebook.com/YourPracticeName you are all set.  If instead you see a long string of letters and numbers, go to www.facebook.com/username and walk through the wizard to choose your username and vanity URL.

#3 Use Real Pictures

Use actual photos of yourself and your staff.  Team photos are great as well as solo pictures of the doctors.  Your patients expect authentic images.  It’s a great idea to have a professional photographer capture you at your best for your profile or cover image as this is the image people see with every post, but don’t underestimate the power of candid shots as well.  Your authentic images allow your patients and community to make better connections with you.

#4 Get Personal

Your community wants to get to know you and wants to be able to relate to your practice.  Share what’s happening in your practice.

#5 Always Link to Facebook

All of your marketing efforts should link to Facebook.  Review your practice website and be sure each page holds a Facebook icon linking to your URL.  Additionally, your Facebook URL should be on all your printed and electronic communications.

#6 Run a Contest

Facebook Contests are a great way to add some fun to your page.  In addition, they can help boost your likes and promote your services, making them an excellent marketing tool.  Be sure to review Facebook’s guidelines beforehand.

#7 Support a Cause

Encourage “Likes” on your page by donating $1 to a local charity for every Like you get on Facebook. Not only will you be supporting a good cause, but you will encourage your patient base to participate and drive prospective patients to your site via the viral effect of social networking.  Choose a charity that will help you spread the word.

#8 “Like Us”

Go ahead and ask.  One of the best ways to increase your Likes is simply to ask your patients to Like your Facebook page and to make it easy and convenient for them to do so.  You might offer a token gift as an incentive for liking your page.  Unlike a Facebook Contest, this contest is run by your office and thus bypasses the Facebook contest guidelines.  Another option that has proven successful in many offices is to offer use of an iPad chairside once the patient likes your page.

#9 Click Like if you…

Create ways to keep your followers engaged.  Patients that liked your page a year ago are likely no longer seeing your posts if they have not interacted in any way on your page.  It’s important to engage your followers with posts that evoke a response. One way to do this is to ask questions in your status updates, such as, “click Like if you flossed your teeth today.”

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