Qualis Health Publishes Comprehensive Guide for Implementing Oral Health Integration

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Practical, Proven Tools Now Available to Accelerate Adoption in Primary Care

Qualis Health, one of the nation’s leading population healthcare management organizations, has published a comprehensive set of tools to help primary care practices integrate oral health in order to deliver whole-person care and improve patient outcomes and experience. The Oral Health Integration Implementation Guide provides an action plan to implement screening for oral health risk factors and active disease, initiate appropriate preventive interventions, and coordinate dental care for those with active disease.

The guide:

  •     provides a practical, tool-rich resource, filled with sample workflows, case examples, and sustainability strategies,
  •     presents the Oral Health Delivery Framework, five actions primary care teams can take to protect and promote oral health,
  •     offers a practical model for enhancing partnerships between primary care and dentistry, and
  •     explores challenges encountered by field-testing sites and the solutions they developed.

The guide includes 22 tools and seven case examples developed in partnership with 19 field-testing sites over the last 20 months.

“Oral disease is a serious problem for Americans of all ages, and we need new strategies to combat it,” says Jonathan Sugarman, MD, MPH, Qualis Health President & CEO. “As primary care teams confront new payment models that hold them accountable for overall patient health, they can leverage their skills to promote whole-person care by understanding and intervening in the oral disease process, engaging patients and families in oral health self-care, and coordinating referrals to dentists and other specialists.”

Tooth decay is a transmissible, chronic, infectious disease that is surprisingly common, and impacts people’s overall health and quality of life. Fifty percent of adolescents suffer from tooth decay, and 25 percent of seniors have lost all of their natural teeth. Oral disease doesn’t just affect the mouth, but exacerbates other chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Disparities in oral disease are significant, with the greatest impact on the most vulnerable populations. What’s more, oral disease is also a growing cost concern. The total cost of dental care in the U.S. exceeded $111 billion in 2013, with much of this expense for restorative interventions that could have been avoided with adequate prevention and/or early detection and intervention.

The Oral Health Integration Implementation Guide is a free resource available for download as part of the Safety Net Medical Home Initiative Resource Library, and builds upon the work published in Oral Health: An Essential Component of Primary Care in June 2015. The Oral Health Integration Framework has earned the support of numerous national primary care provider associations, such as the American Academy of Family Physicians, The American Academy of Pediatrics-Oral Health Section, and the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, and has been formally endorsed or supported by 21 national organizations.

The Framework was field-tested in 19 diverse primary care practices in five states, demonstrating that it is a practical model, and implementation is feasible in diverse practice settings. Among the field-testing sites, over 13,000 patients were screened for oral health issues over the course of 20 months. Over 4,500 of these patients had fluoride varnish applied to their teeth, and nearly 1,300 patients without a regular dentist were referred to dental care.

The Oral Health Integration in Primary Care Project was sponsored by the National Interprofessional Initiative on Oral Health, a consortium of funders and health professionals who share a vision that dental disease can be eradicated, and funded by the DentaQuest Foundation, the REACH Healthcare Foundation, and the Washington Dental Service Foundation.


About Qualis Health
Qualis Health is one of the nation’s leading population health management organizations, and a leader in improving care delivery and patient outcomes, working with clients throughout the public and private sector to advance the quality, efficiency and value of healthcare for millions of Americans every day. We deliver solutions to ensure that our partners transform the care they provide, with a focus on process improvement, care management and effective use of health information technology. For more information, visit http://www.QualisHealth.org.

About the National Interprofessional Initiative on Oral Health
Founded in 2009, the National Interprofessional Initiative on Oral Health (http://www.niioh.org) is a consortium of funders and health professionals whose vision is that dental disease can be eradicated. The mission of the Interprofessional Initiative is to engage primary care clinicians to be alert to their patients’ oral health needs, ready and willing to deliver oral health preventive services to patients of all ages, effective at partnering with dental specialists, and able to learn from, with and about each other. The activities of the Interprofessional Initiative are made possible as a result of funding from the DentaQuest Foundation, the Washington Dental Service Foundation and the REACH Healthcare Foundation. For more information, please visit http://www.niioh.org.

About DentaQuest Foundation
The DentaQuest Foundation is the leading U.S. philanthropy focused solely on oral health. The foundation is supporting the development of the Oral Health 2020 network, a group of partners committed to working collectively at the national, state and community levels to eradicate dental disease in children and improve lifelong oral health. The DentaQuest Foundation is the philanthropic arm of DentaQuest. To learn more, visit: http://dentaquestfoundation.org.

About REACH Healthcare Foundation
The REACH Healthcare Foundation, located in Merriam, Kansas, directs its philanthropy toward advancing equity in health coverage, access and quality for uninsured and medically underserved people in a six-county region that spans Kansas and Missouri. Since our establishment in 2003, the foundation has invested $47.9 million in programs and policy and advocacy efforts to expand access to health coverage and care, and strengthen the health care safety net. The foundation has supported several initiatives focused on integration of oral health and mental health services into primary care. For more information, visit, http://www.reachhealth.org.

About Washington Dental Service Foundation
Washington Dental Service Foundation is a non-profit funded by Delta Dental of Washington, the leading dental benefits company in Washington. The Foundation’s mission is to prevent oral disease and improve overall health. The Foundation works with partners to develop innovative programs and policies that create lasting change and lead to improved oral health for all. http://www.deltadentalwa.com/foundation

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Laura Kubisiak
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