Nonprofit Taps Human Centered Design for More Effective Outreach

Dentistry Today


Oral Health America (OHA) has selected 3 Smiles Across America (SAA) program partners to participate in an endeavor designed to change the way school-based oral health services are planned and delivered in their communities. It uses Human Centered Design (HCD), a concept that emerged among corporations seeking to place the customer at the center of the product or design service process.

In HCD, organizations learn directly from the people they’re designing for by immersing themselves in their lives and understanding their needs. Next, the organizations identify opportunities for design and prototype possible solutions. The implementation phase brings the solution to life and eventually to market. Once the solution is integrated, system usability scales and community feedback are used to determine its success.  

“Oral Health America believes this is the first project among oral health nonprofit organizations to apply Human Centered Design, which approaches decision-making about changes in school-based oral health services with the children and the community at the center of the process,” said Beth Truett, president and CEO of OHA.

Programs selected for the HCD project span the scope of OHA’s 304 SAA program partners, representing diverse rural, small town, and urban communities where 50% or more of the children received free or reduced price lunches in the schools. The programs offer services via clinics, portable and mobile equipment, and a focus on communities where poverty, language differences, and transportation are significant factors.

Thanks in part to a $60,000 grant from Crest + Oral B, OHA kicked off the project with a 2-day event at the Oyler School’s Robert & Adele Schiff Early Learning Center in Cincinnati on October 31 and November 1. Participating SAA programs include the Santa Barbara-Ventura Counties Dental Care Foundation in California, Children’s Dental Services in Minnesota, and Comprehensive Community Action/Ronald McDonald Care Mobile in Rhode Island.

“Crest + Oral B are proud to support OHA’s Human Centered Design model as part of its ongoing Share and Learn Conference,” said Robert Lee, BDS, MBA, Procter & Gamble’s professional and scientific relations manager for North America. “We share OHA’s vision and commitment in improving school-based oral health services to improve the lives of the children and the communities they live in.”

OHA and James Grant Design will work with the programs, their boards, and community stakeholders throughout the 2016-2017 school year. Each program will present a progress report at OHA’s 2017 Share and Learn Partner Conference to help other partners better understand HCD and how it can help identify the issues that communities face as well as the opportunities for improving oral health services in school settings. 

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