Culture is More Than a Buzzword for This Multi-Specialty Dental Group Practice

Headquartered in Hillsboro, Oregon, Willamette Dental Group, whose slogan is ‘First in Proactive Dental Care,’ has been providing dentistry for more than 49 years. What began as a small, 600 square foot, two-dentist practice in downtown Portland, has grown into a group practice with over 185 dentists, more than 1,300 employees, and nearly 400,000 patients. They are the largest multi-specialty group dental practice in the Northwest and operate more than 53 dental office locations throughout Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.

Now, the dental group has been recognized for its success in employee engagement for a fourth time by winning the 2019 Employee Voice Award from Quantum Workplace. Willamette received the award for Highest Level of Engagement in the category of employers with 1,000-4,999 employees, and they are the only healthcare company in the US to win in this category for 2019.  Employee engagement is defined by Quantum Workplace as the strength of mental and emotional connection that employees feel toward their places of work.

“Culture is more than a buzzword – these companies prove it. When leadership values open and honest employee feedback, recognizes strong performance, and clearly puts effort into improving the employee experience, employees are allowed to thrive and be the best versions of themselves. These organizations have displayed a commitment to creating cultures that lead to great success, and it’s our honor to partner with them and recognize their achievements.” -Greg Harris, President & CEO, Quantum Workplace

The dental support organization, originally established by Dr. Eugene Skourtes and Dr. Gerald Cogan in 1970, fostered what was then a new approach to dental care that focused on preventive care and long-term oral health, instead of the traditional fee-for-service model. From this approach, the company became the Pacific Northwest’s first provider of coordinated dental care.

In the early 1970s, Willamette Dental Group began contracting with Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Oregon to provide Dentacare — one of the region’s earliest coordinated dental care programs. In 1983, the practice began to offer patients their own pre-paid dental plans.

In June 2019, Premera Blue Cross and Willamette Dental Group announced a new dental product, underwritten by Premera, that will feature broad coverage, no deductibles, no annual maximums and no waiting periods.  Both Willamette Dental Group and Premera have deep roots in the Pacific Northwest communities they serve and both share in the belief that oral health is key to overall health.

The new exclusive dental provider organization plans—called Willamette Dental Group, presented by Premera—include adult and child orthodontia, and can be paired with a Premera medical or dental PPO plan for a more streamlined customer experience and predictable costs. With 21 offices in Washington state, customers will also have easy access as well. The plans will be available to new and existing customers as a dual option to PPO dental plans, or on a stand-alone basis, beginning August 1, 2019. This program is currently available for employer groups with 51+ employees.

They DSO has also recently improved their scheduling through “Simple Scheduling” – an approach that allows them to offer more appointment types every day. This groundbreaking change improves patient experience by completing as much work as clinically appropriate in one visit, reducing costs, and reducing a patient’s time away from work.

Additionally, they have integrated electronic dental records (EDR) into their 53 clinic locations and are in the process of implementing digital x-ray into all clinics. Digital imaging gives the advantage of immediate image preview, reduced imaging cost, and lower radiation exposure. EDRs and digital imaging are fundamental to their continuing commitment to improve care, as well as making overall dental health care delivery safer and more efficient.

The dental group’s success has been built on a dedication to its mission, core values, and standards of healthcare that put the people of those communities first, including its employees. In addition to the 2019 Employee Voice Award, Willamette Dental Group recently announced it raised the minimum hourly pay for all employees to $15.00.

“As a company we are committed to our employees, continually striving to nurture a culture that recognizes people first. We are honored to once again be included in the Employee Voice Awards. Our employees are hard at work bringing the best dental care to thousands of patients every day. This award honors the incredible collaboration and commitment our team has for each other and our company. They are the key to our continued success.” -Kris Holgerson, VP, Human Resources, Willamette Dental Group

Willamette’s Core Values:

Embrace change, encourage invention and continually remain at the forefront of advances in oral health for the good of our patients, colleagues and company.

Exemplify and promote whole-person wellness through education and support of programs that keep our patients and employees healthy.

Demonstrate caring and sensitivity for the diverse backgrounds of our patients and colleagues and generosity in our communities.

Adhere to high ethical and professional standards, demonstrating commitment to our responsibilities with trust, honesty and respect for all.

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