A revolution in oral health

DSO + DPMs

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This dental health organization believes in a model that emphasizes prevention and care beyond the chair—and now, it's taking action.

The sun wasn’t up yet, but hundreds of people were already lined up in a parking lot in an impoverished area I’d been invited to visit by a state Medicaid director. Thousands of adults with no other access to oral health would get dental care that day thanks to a philanthropy called Missions of Mercy.

I was a young executive at DentaQuest, which today manages dental and vision benefits for 27 million Americans and provides care through growing networks of oral health centers in communities around the country.

I didn’t know it then, but that pre-dawn gathering was clear evidence of our broken oral health system. Now, it helps define how I view the intersection of business and social justice.

The experience made me aware of how pervasive and systemic problems in the oral health system are. For starters, oral care is separate from medical care, making it yet another step in one’s personal or family health care journey. The result? According to the National Association of Dental Plans, nearly 74 million Americans didn’t have dental coverage in 2016, which is nearly four times the number of medically uninsured Americans . Access to quality care is limited, with 45 million people living in “dental deserts ,” which are areas of our country that simply lack enough dentists to adequately serve the population living there. The care that is provided is simply unaffordable – nearly $124 billion is spent annually on dental care in the U.S. , and “cost” is the number one reason adults haven’t visited the dentist in the last 12 months . The thing is, dental disease is nearly 100 percent preventable and it is within our ability to change the failing system.

Despite extensive disruption in health care, oral health is virtually unchanged. As the largest Medicaid oral health plan, DentaQuest has an obligation to do more, challenge the status quo, and lead the way to a more effective system.

We need a person-centered oral health revolution that:

1. Recognizes and acts on the fact that health starts in the mouth

2. Changes the system to measure and pay for outcomes not procedures

3. Addresses health equity disparities by improving access, coverage, and care

4. Takes oral care beyond the dental chair, focusing on prevention and meeting people where they live and work.

This is Preventistry.

With a double bottom line, in which business performance and social impact go hand-in-hand, DentaQuest is equally committed to fixing the system and growing its business. In support of this commitment, Preventistry is DentaQuest’s all-in approach to improving oral health for everyone by redefining prevention and care, and it does so in fundamental ways:

Pioneering value-based care models for oral health—rewarding providers for keeping people healthy, not just for providing services. This is starting to happen in Oregon, Texas, and beyond. A value-based delivery system in oral health emphasizes prevention and care beyond the chair—efforts that expand access and advance health equity by bringing oral health into schools, homes, and communities.

And we are holding ourselves accountable. By the end of 2018, a half million people DentaQuest serves will get care under a value-based care model that will grow rapidly as we expand the model in other states.

Investing in innovation —partnering with disruptors, scientists, and designers of all types to catalyze next-generation oral health solutions and engage people where they are.

Driving transformative change - fundamentally altering the way we think about oral health to ensure all Americans can access quality oral health care.
More importantly, perhaps, Preventistry is a ground-up reimagining of oral health care. It’s financing, it’s delivery, it’s how we consider care itself. It’s not about a single company. It’s about a whole system.

Making good on the promise we’ve made to those being left behind—people who aren’t as healthy as they could be because our system of caring for them is lacking—will require the combined efforts of payers, providers, and policymakers. It will require imagination.

Most of all, it demands commitment to changing the system.

References: 
1: National Association of Dental Plans (NADP). “Who has dental benefits today?” Available at https://www.nadp.org/Dental_Benefits_Basics/Dental_BB_1.aspx Accessed October 2018.
2: The Pew Charitable Trusts: Children’s Dental. “In Search of Dental Care.” June 2013.
3: American Dental Association. “HPI report shows dental spending increased again in 2016.” December 21 2017.
4: American Dental Association, Health Policy Institute. “Oral Health and Well-Being in the United States.”

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This dental health organization believes in a model that emphasizes prevention and care beyond the chair—and now, it's taking action.
The sun wasn’t up yet, but hundreds of people were already lined up in a parking lot in an impoverished area I’d been invited to visit by a state Medicaid director. Thousands of adults with no other access to oral health would get dental care that day thanks to a philanthropy called Missions of Mercy.
I was a young executive at DentaQuest, which today manages dental and vision benefits for 27 million Americans and provides care through growing networks of oral health centers in communities around the country.
I didn’t know it then, but that pre-dawn gathering was clear evidence of our broken oral health system. Now, it helps define how I view the intersection of business and social justice.
The experience made me aware of how pervasive and systemic problems in the oral health system are. For starters, oral care is separate from medical care, making it yet another step in one’s personal or family health care journey. The result? According to the National Association of Dental Plans, nearly 74 million Americans didn’t have dental coverage in 2016, which is nearly four times the number of medically uninsured Americans . Access to quality care is limited, with 45 million people living in “dental deserts ,” which are areas of our country that simply lack enough dentists to adequately serve the population living there. The care that is provided is simply unaffordable – nearly $124 billion is spent annually on dental care in the U.S. , and “cost” is the number one reason adults haven’t visited the dentist in the last 12 months . The thing is, dental disease is nearly 100 percent preventable and it is within our ability to change the failing system.
Despite extensive disruption in health care, oral health is virtually unchanged. As the largest Medicaid oral health plan, DentaQuest has an obligation to do more, challenge the status quo, and lead the way to a more effective system.
We need a person-centered oral health revolution that:
1. Recognizes and acts on the fact that health starts in the mouth;
2. Changes the system to measure and pay for outcomes not procedures;
3. Addresses health equity disparities by improving access, coverage, and care; and
4. Takes oral care beyond the dental chair, focusing on prevention and meeting people where they live and work.
This is Preventistry.
With a double bottom line, in which business performance and social impact go hand-in-hand, DentaQuest is equally committed to fixing the system and growing its business. In support of this commitment, Preventistry is DentaQuest’s all-in approach to improving oral health for everyone by redefining prevention and care, and it does so in fundamental ways:
Pioneering value-based care models for oral health—rewarding providers for keeping people healthy, not just for providing services. This is starting to happen in Oregon, Texas, and beyond. A value-based delivery system in oral health emphasizes prevention and care beyond the chair—efforts that expand access and advance health equity by bringing oral health into schools, homes, and communities.
And we are holding ourselves accountable. By the end of 2018, a half million people DentaQuest serves will get care under a value-based care model that will grow rapidly as we expand the model in other states.
Investing in innovation —partnering with disruptors, scientists, and designers of all types to catalyze next-generation oral health solutions and engage people where they are.
Driving transformative change - fundamentally altering the way we think about oral health to ensure all Americans can access quality oral health care.
More importantly, perhaps, Preventistry is a ground-up reimagining of oral health care. It’s financing, it’s delivery, it’s how we consider care itself. It’s not about a single company. It’s about a whole system.
Making good on the promise we’ve made to those being left behind—people who aren’t as healthy as they could be because our system of caring for them is lacking—will require the combined efforts of payers, providers, and policymakers. It will require imagination.
Most of all, it demands commitment to changing the system.

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