The interview below is part of an ongoing effort by McGuireWoods to profile key leaders in the dental industry. To recommend a dental key leader for a future interview, email Bart Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org or Kayla McCann Marty at email@example.com.
Tim Constantine is the president and CEO of United Concordia Dental, a subsidiary of Highmark Inc. Prior to joining United Concordia, Constantine served as executive vice president of commercial markets for the Highmark Health Plan and president of Highmark Delaware. He also previously served as president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware, as CFO for Union Hospital of Cecil County Health System, and as vice president of community health services for St. Francis Hospital in Wilmington, Delaware. He began his career with Arthur Andersen in its audit and operational consulting practice.
A Delaware resident for over 25 years, Constantine has a strong commitment to the state’s businesses and communities. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, United Way of Delaware, the Delaware Center for Health Innovation and the Delaware Business Roundtable. Constantine is a magna cum laude graduate of Loyola University of Maryland and received his CPA license (currently inactive) in 1987.
Question: What attracted you to the dental industry?
Tim Constantine: I’ve spent most of my professional career working in the healthcare field, on both the provider side (health systems) and on the payor side (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware, then Highmark), and have felt a strong connection and purpose to the mission of the organizations. My role at United Concordia Dental has offered me an opportunity to grow professionally, as well as expand my healthcare experience into the area of oral health.
Q: What is a lesson that you have learned concerning what's required for success in the dental industry?
TC: The dental industry is highly competitive, requiring insurers to be innovative and focused on the customer experience. Additionally, I believe it’s critical for the industry to understand and address the strong connection between oral health and overall health.
Q: Who is an example of someone who inspired you in the dental industry and why?
TC: While I’m relatively new to the dental industry, I’ve already learned a tremendous amount from my colleagues at United Concordia Dental; I feel very fortunate to work with a fantastic team, at a great company. My predecessor — United Concordia’s long-time CEO Chip Merkel — has been a significant mentor to me.
Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge facing dental businesses today? What advice would you provide to overcome it?
TC: One of the biggest challenges facing dental businesses today is how quickly our industry is changing. COVID-19 heightened the industry’s awareness of how customer needs can change almost overnight. As new technologies and products emerge, as mergers and acquisitions occur, and as consumer wants and needs change, the way we do business must respond accordingly. The ability to be flexible and responsive is crucial to long-term success. At United Concordia Dental, everything we’ve been doing for decades — developing products focused on total health, establishing strategic partnerships with academic institutions and Blues organizations, and investing in technology, for example — is helping us to effectively respond to an ever-evolving dental benefits industry.
Q: How has your business been impacted by (and responded to) COVID-19? Are there great differences between different geographic areas?
TC: At United Concordia Dental, like so many other companies, we have had to make quick decisions due to the pandemic. We were among the first dental providers to join the American Dental Association in encouraging the use of teledentistry for virtual visits at a time when most offices were closed and to help cover the costs associated with personal protective equipment when offices reopened.
Since March, when we transitioned our workforce to working from home, almost overnight, we have been supporting our producers, employers, members, dentists and partners in a variety of ways — from premium refunds and rate holds, to modifying participation requirements and waiving time limits for some services. We also recognized that our communities have needed some extra support as a result of the pandemic. We’ve made significant donations — above and beyond what we typically contribute each year — to food banks, veteran and military groups, COVID-19 research groups, and groups for survivors of COVID-19.
Q: What do you see as the future of dentistry for the remainder of 2020 and into 2021?
TC: COVID-19 has had a profound impact on the dental industry, and we will continue to closely monitor and proactively adapt to the ever-changing implications. Short term, we expect some headwinds for the industry, particularly if the economy continues to struggle. Historically, consumer spending on dental care has decreased during periods of economic downturn. Our priority has been and will continue to be serving our stakeholders — members, customers, providers, partners and producers. We will ensure access to high-quality, cost-effective provider networks and heighten our focus on the customer experience. We want to create remarkable experiences for our members.
Q: Does United Concordia see a connection between oral health and overall wellness?
TC: Absolutely. At United Concordia Dental, we pride ourselves on being a dental solutions partner with a focus on the connection between oral and overall health. We have partnered with leading academic organizations — the Harvard School of Dental Medicine and the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine — in a study focused on the relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease as it relates to healthcare costs. Our findings were published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and have been a motivating force in our dedication to promoting oral wellness.
We are a founding sponsor of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine Initiative Integrating Oral Health & Medicine and have developed products containing enhanced dental benefits to help improve our members’ overall health. Further, our team of Oral Wellness Consultants works to help our customers understand and use their benefits to their fullest. Through improved engagement and education — including behavior-change initiatives — our consultants work to improve overall wellness and increase productivity. By supporting our customers in proactively taking control of their oral health, we ensure they receive more value from their dental insurance benefits, as well as improved overall health.
Q: United Concordia has a strong relationship with veterans and military families. How do the company's values inform this commitment?
TC: Our company has a longstanding history of service to the federal government, having provided coverage for more than 3 million military service members and their families, veterans, and government employees. For more than 25 years, United Concordia Dental has been proud to support our veterans and military families through various federal and Department of Defense contracts, including Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP). Further, United Concordia was named a Military Friendly employer for 2020 by the Military Friendly® Company, which investigates and identifies organizations whose commitment to serving the military and veteran community is broad in scope, and meaningful in terms of actual outcomes and impact.
We are also honored to offer veterans the opportunity to lead, inspire and support others through positions in our family of companies; we are committed to supporting them in leveraging their abilities through an array of professions.
Q: What is your experience with varied groups (municipalities, government, retailers, etc.)?
TC: At United Concordia Dental, we are committed to building strong relationships with our clients of all sizes. Currently, we administer dental benefits to more than 22,500 clients nationwide, of many diverse classifications. Additionally, we serve as a dental solutions partner for numerous Blue Cross Blue Shield plans. Accordingly, we have extensive experience working with a variety of private and public sector groups of all sizes, including federal government and active and reserve military personnel, municipalities, major insurers, school districts and universities, retailers, and labor organizations, among many others.