Why We Need Dental Homes

posted by Michael Enright, DentaQuest

on December 13, 2016

As the health care industry moves towards value-based care – paying for quality of care, not quantity of services – research shows that oral health must take a similar path. New models of care must incorporate all facets of a patient’s health—including oral health—to realize the full potential of better outcomes at lower costs.

The DentaQuest Foundation funded an important guide, recently released by The Qualis Center, addressing how to integrate oral health into primary care. One solution is the dental home. DentaQuest has implemented dental home programs in states across the country and, as a component of our  partnership with Amerigroup Community Care of Georgia, recently launched dental home services for Georgia Medicaid managed care members. This is the first partnership of its kind in the state.

Under the dental home model, the dental care team can serve as an early detection screening system for chronic disease and social determinants that impact overall health. The dentist can identify various needs and refer patients to other doctors in the same way a primary care physician coordinates patient care.

As a partner to health plans, DentaQuest offers a variety of services to improve population health and access to dental care while lowering costs. It works to cultivate novel ways of improving oral health, test concepts that show the most promise in reducing disparities and costs, and drive those best practices forward to deliver better outcomes for patients.

For example, in Tennessee, 100 percent of DentaQuest’s TennCare enrollees are assigned a patient-centered dental home. DentaQuest members are now able to get to a dental office eight days sooner for routine visits and 11 hours earlier for emergency care. On top of that, DentaQuest has saved the state $27.5 million in Medicaid costs.

As this model continues to demonstrate success, DentaQuest has worked with states and health plans to improve quality and lower costs through the patient-centered dental home model and to spread this model nationwide.

Michael Enright is director of National Sales at DentaQuest.

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