We’ve discussed the patient-centered medical home model of care quite a bit over the past year. Typically, those discussions focus on redesigning primary care such that the medical practice adapts to the needs of patients (not the other way around). The PCMH features a team based approach (clinical, case management, front office, etc) notable for effective communication, care coordination, and hand-offs among the team and across provider sectors. At the same time, the integration of other elements of care – such as mental health and oral health – ensures that there is a whole person orientation to care as opposed to piece meal service delivery.
As we’ve blogged in the past, oral health is integral to overall health and should therefore play an important role within the PCMH. Access to preventive dental care can also advance the twin goals of higher quality primary care and lower health care costs overall. In 2009, the California Health Care Foundation reported that 80,000 emergency department visits a year in that state alone for preventable dental conditions. Surprisingly, statewide, the ED visit rate (without hospitalization) for preventable dental conditions ran higher than that for diabetes.
Which is why the accomplishments of two EMPH alums (’04) in the area of oral health are so important. In their recent Oral Health newsletter, the American Academy of Pedicatrics honored Dr. David Krol as an Oral Health Champion, celebrating his work to develop partnerships between pediatricians and dentists. Dr. Krol (a pediatrician himself) has been active on a committee affiliated with the Institute of Medicine regarding access to oral health services. He has also contributed his expertise to the oral health efforts of the American Academy of Pediatrics in addition to serving on review panels with the US Health Resources and Services Administration and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Dr. Krol was recently involved in winning a DentaQuest Foundation grant on behalf of the New Jersey Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. In all, the foundation awarded funding to 20 state organizations that support community partnerships as part of its Oral Health 2014 Initiative to Eliminate Oral Health Disparities.
Kevin Earle, a former classmate of Dr. Krol, was also instrumental in securing a DentaQuest grant. Mr. Earle is the Executive Director of the Arizona Dental Association and has an extensive background in regulatory management. He recently acted as an author and major force behind the DentaQuest grant for Arizona. The funding will provide resources to confront critical oral health deficiencies among the 21 Native American Tribes in Arizona, where children have decay rates that are 400% greater than the national average and one in four tribal elders is without natural teeth. The grant will help support strategic collaboration between the Native American community and both public and private stakeholders.
Kudos to our EMPH oral health champions!