DentaQuest Institute White Paper Focuses on Interprofessional Collaboration to Address Rural Oral Health Disparities
MORE Care resource outlines opportunities to improve patient and community health
BOSTON – The DentaQuest Institute, a national nonprofit dedicated to promoting optimal oral health through efficient, effective and high-quality care, today issued its new white paper, “MORE Care: Narrowing the Rural Interprofessional Oral Health Care Gap.” Developed by five authors and reviewed by a panel of leading health experts, the guidance resource outlines key information and learnings from the multi-year Medical Oral Expanded Care (MORE Care) Initiative, which establishes interprofessional oral health networks (IPOHNs) to integrate and coordinate person-centered oral health care in rural communities.
MORE Care seeks to address the engrained oral and overall health disparities as well as the challenges rural residents face in accessing needed health care through cross-collaboration and coordination between primary care and dental teams.
“Not only are there fewer dentists in rural communities, but both children and adults often disproportionately experience poor dental health or unmet needs in these regions,” said Dr. Sean Boynes, co-author and director of interprofessional practice at the DentaQuest Institute. “By sharing this learning collaborative’s best practices, challenges, and innovative ideas, we hope to show other rural health clinics, state offices of rural health and rural health care systems that they can effectively bring together previously-siloed sectors of care.”
MORE Care was launched in South Carolina in 2015 through a partnership with the South Carolina Office of Rural Health and the Medical University of South Carolina. In the initiative, primary care teams learn strategies and skills to integrate oral health services – such as evaluations, risk screenings, pediatric fluoride applications and self-management goal development – into their practices, as well as to implement quality improvement efforts and measure impact.
At the same time, the initiative develops relationships and formalizes referral networks with dental care providers. To bolster ongoing, effective partnerships, primary and dental care teams also perform cooperative tasks, such as implementing a bi-directional referral system for managing systemic diseases, improving communication, and identifying areas of clinical and operational overlap.
“As we strive to improve coordination across health care, we recognize that rural health providers and organizations are making these efforts in environments with unique sets of challenges and experiences,” said Alan Morgan, M.P.A., CEO of the National Rural Health Association and MORE Care advisory council member. “MORE Care is an important example of a rural health-specific approach to achieving the Quadruple Aim, and it allows rural health leaders to work together and share insights that can ultimately better the health of their communities.”
Currently, MORE Care is in phase 2 and includes additional partnerships with the Colorado Rural Health Center and the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health. Across three states, 21 primary care team sites and 15 dental care partners participate in the initiative. The white paper includes an overview of oral health’s connection and impact on systemic well-being; details on the MORE Care project; key factors, challenges, and opportunities for rural oral health interprofessional care as identified by MORE Care participants; and innovative ideas from each state, among other topics.
“With oral and overall health intrinsically linked, truly improving a person’s and community’s well-being requires us to structure health care delivery to promote preventive care, improve disease management and connect providers together so patients are at the center,” said Teryl Eisinger, M.A., executive director of the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health and MORE Care advisory council member. “Rural health organizations, providers and stakeholders have the chance to lead in creating viable IPOHNs, and the information in the MORE Care white paper is a critical step in that direction.”
To read “MORE Care: Narrowing the Rural Interprofessional Oral Health Care Gap” and learn more about the initiative, visit www.dentaquestinstitute.org. In the coming weeks, the DentaQuest Institute will also launch an implementation guide for interested partners to explore bringing MORE Care into their communities.
About the DentaQuest Institute
The DentaQuest Institute (www.dentaquestinstitute.org) is a not-for-profit organization focused on improving efficiency, effectiveness and quality in dental care. Through its work to align clinical practice with science-based research, the DentaQuest Institute is helping oral health professionals find new ways to partner with patients to prevent and manage oral diseases. This work ensures patients get the right care, at the right time, with the right outcome. The DentaQuest Institute is an affiliate of DentaQuest (www.dentaquest.com), a leading U.S. oral health enterprise.