Dental Groups Begin Publicly Reporting Quality Indicators

Dentistry Today


Five regional members of the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality (WCQH) are now the first dental practices in the country to publicly report oral health quality measures to the WCHQ reporting website.

The five organizations, which are founding members of the WCHQ Oral Health Collaborative, include Forward Dental, Marshfield Clinic Health System, Dental Associates, HealthPartners (MN), and Children’s Wisconsin.

These practices serve a diverse demographic and geographic range of pediatric and adult patients in rural and urban communities throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota, according to WCQH.

The first publicly reported measures include caries risk assessment in children, ongoing care in adults with periodontitis, and topical fluoride application in high-risk children. These measures commonly are found in family dental practice settings, WCQH said.

WCQH acquires and analyzes these quality measures from de-identified data submitted by the dental organizations. Measure specifications along with the individual organization reports are available to the public on the WCQH website.

“WCQH has proven that what gets measured and reported publicly improves faster,” said Chris Queram, president and CEO of WCHQ.

“It has been exciting to see dentists work with our organization and join physicians and health systems to work toward setting a new standard of overall, holistic care,” Queram said.

“Our goal is to see a closer alignment between oral and medical providers in our region because a number of serious health issues must be managed in both settings,” he said.

ForwardDental was the first dental organization to join WCHQ. Jesley Ruff, DDS, MPH, found the wealth of experience among the members of the collaborative valuable to his organization.

“This endeavor gave us the opportunity to collaborate with peers to improve oral health by publicly reporting information that is meaningful to clinical teams with a mission of better informing and benefitting the overall health of people living in communities we are privileged to serve,” said Ruff.

For Children’s Wisconsin, children’s oral health is essential to ensuring good overall health.

“Children deserve great dental care and good health starts with a healthy mouth,” said Lori Barbeau, DDS, of Children’s Wisconsin.

“The ability to collaborate with four dental organizations focused on improving dental care through measurement, public reporting, and sharing best practices will help ensure that children receive the best care possible everywhere in the state,” said Barbeau.

The integration of oral and medical health delivery is a goal at the Marshfield Clinic Health System, which has dental and medical clinics in central and northern Wisconsin.

As executive director of the Marshfield Research Institute, Amit Acharya, BDS, MS, PhD, has developed dashboards that help dentists and physicians jointly monitor conditions that have an impact on overall health.

“Our goal is to improve the health of people in our communities. It is extremely helpful working with the members of the oral health collaborative to develop measures where we can compare our results to one another, network to share common practice issues, and improve our performance through collaboration,” said Acharya.

David Gesko, DDS, is dental director and senior vice president with HealthPartners, a health system based in Bloomington, Minnesota. WalletHub recently ranked Wisconsin first and Minnesota third best in the country based on dental health scores across several indicators.

“Minnesota and Wisconsin are both known for delivering high-quality health and dental care. As an integrated health system with dental offices in multiple states, we were excited to join the WCHQ Oral Health Collaborative to help develop and now publicly report our results on a starter set of dental quality indicators,” said Gesko.

“It is a step in the right direction at a time when our patients need us to provide more information to them about the quality of care they receive and the value they derive from our services,” said Gesko.

Thomas Manos, DDS, MS, is the owner and CEO of Dental Associates, where the collection and use of data to improve quality is not a new practice. A data-driven and patient-centric practice, Manos said he and his team are looking forward to working with WCHQ as a partner to continue to develop quality metrics related to oral health.

“There is a critical link between oral health and general health and well-being. We know poor dental hygiene is linked to an increase in chronic and acute diseases,” said Manos.

“We are looking forward to working with our colleagues in both the medical and oral health communities to improve the overall health of the people we all serve,” he said.

The WCQH Oral Health Collaborative is working on its next set of metrics with a goal to help practitioners better manage patients with chronic medical conditions using the results of measures that incorporate medical and dental data.

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