Tooth decay and periodontal disease, two preventable chronic infectious diseases, together constitute one of the greatest unmet health needs in America today, affecting up to 50% of the population. The impact of these diseases falls disproportionately on disadvantaged populations, resulting in lost opportunities for education and career advancement, missed work, and preventable medical and dental expenditures totaling billions of dollars annually. Working closely with the National Interdisciplinary Initiative on Oral Health, DentaQuest, the Washington Dental Service Foundation, and the Reach Foundation, Qualis Health has been leading efforts to focus on whole-person care and expand access to oral health by integrating preventive oral healthcare into everyday primary care practice.
Qualis Health developed a conceptual framework, the Oral Health Delivery Framework, which has been endorsed by 21 national professional associations. Nineteen primary care sites in five states tested the framework among patient populations that included children, adults with diabetes, and pregnant women. Participating sites included rural and urban practices, standalone private practices, and federally qualified health centers. Qualis Health provided technical assistance using a “train the trainer” model to guide test sites in defining a target population, specifying the oral health intervention, and measuring its impact using data captured in the practice’s electronic health record.
Results of this program were published in the Oral Health Implementation Guide, designed for use in diverse settings with or without technical assistance. An accompanying Oral Health Tool Kit includes tools for program planning, health IT assessment, workflow optimization, process measure presorting, and development of referral agreements with community dentists.
In June 2017, this program was named a winner in the Wellness Prevention category of the 8th annual DecisionHealth Platinum Awards, a program recognizing the best in care management and care coordination.