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Qualis Health Publishes Actionable Framework for Integrating Oral Health in Primary Care

June 15, 2015

Oral Health Delivery Framework provides practical activities for primary care teams to reduce the burden of oral disease and improve overall health for patients and families

Seattle, WA - Qualis Health, one of the nation's leading population healthcare management organizations, has published a white paper, "Oral Health: An Essential Component of Primary Care," which makes the case for delivering preventive oral healthcare as a component of routine medical care and enhancing partnerships between primary care and dentistry. The white paper is available online at www.qualishealth.org/white-paper.

"Oral disease is largely preventable, and can complicate the management of other chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease that are regularly encountered in primary care," said Jonathan Sugarman, MD, MPH, Qualis Health President and CEO. "Engaging primary care teams in oral health is a critical strategy for reducing the impact of oral diseases and improving population health."

Oral health is essential for healthy development and healthy aging, yet nationwide there is an unacceptably high burden of oral disease. Delivering preventive oral healthcare in the primary care setting will expand access for nearly all patients, particularly high-risk and vulnerable patients. Primary care teams have the skills necessary to understand and intervene in the oral disease process; the relationships needed to engage patients and families in oral health self-care; and a structure for coordinating referrals to dentistry and supporting patients during transitions of care. The Oral Health Delivery Framework delineates the activities for which a primary care team can take accountability to protect and promote oral health. These activities are within the scope of practice for primary care; and if organized efficiently, can be integrated into the office workflow of diverse practice settings. The white paper also includes examples from practices that have successfully begun integration. Following field testing of the framework, a complete oral health integration guide for primary care practices will be published in 2016.

The Oral Health Delivery Framework was developed in partnership with a panel of experts, including primary care and dental care providers; leaders from medical, dental, and nursing associations; payers and policymakers; a patient and family partnership expert; and oral health and public health advocates. It has been endorsed by a broad array of organizations, including: American Association for Community Dental Programs, American Association of Public Health Dentistry, American College of Nurse Midwives, American Public Health Association–Oral Health Section, Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors, Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care, National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, National Network for Oral Health Access, National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties, and Physician Assistant Education Association.

The publication is sponsored by the National Interprofessional Initiative on Oral Health, and supported by DentaQuest Foundation, The REACH Healthcare Foundation and 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.

About the National Interprofessional Initiative on Oral Health
Founded in 2009, the National Interprofessional Initiative on Oral Health 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 DentaQuest Foundation is supporting the development of the Oral Health 2020 network across the nation, 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 increasing access to health care coverage and services 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 $43 million in health programs and services and policy and advocacy efforts that strengthen the health care safety net, and support coordinated, integrated and patient-centered health care. The foundation has supported several initiatives focused on integration of oral health and mental health services into primary care. For more information, visit, 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. deltadentalwa.com/foundation

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