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Dental Quality Alliance to meet in July

The Dental Quality Alliance will meet July 13 to continue work on an initial set of children’s oral health quality measures.

Image: Dr. Crall
Dr. Crall

The DQA’s Research and Development Advisory Committee evaluated pediatric oral health measures that are either currently in use or have been published in the past by various organizations. The committee used different parameters to rate the various measures, including scientific validity, feasibility of collecting information, ease of implementation and importance, said Dr. Jim Crall, who represents the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry on the DQA and is the chair of public health and community dentistry and a professor of pediatric dentistry at the University of California-Los Angeles School of Dentistry. From this exercise, the committee was able to identify gaps where new measures may be needed, Dr. Crall said.

Existing measures being examined include the number and percentage of children covered by some sort of dental benefit program or plan who receive any dental service or certain types of dental services within a 12-month period, among others, Dr. Crall said. Identified gaps were then contrasted with existing evidence-based clinical guidelines to help formulate measure concepts for development, he said.

In its scan, the DQA developed a framework based on different aspects of care and mapped measures to that. DQA members and staff are also assisting the National Quality Forum, which is conducting its own environmental scan that includes measures for both children and adults.

The NQF, which is under contract by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is mapping its own measures to match the goals of Healthy People 2020, a set of national objectives that monitor improvements in the health of all Americans by 2020.

The goal is to have the full DQA discuss and vote on its proposed programmatic measures at the July 13 meeting, Dr. Crall said. Following this, the DQA hopes to support the testing and validation of these measures before they’re recommended for widespread use across dental care programs, he said.

This should result in better care and a better value for any money that’s spent on dental care, whether it’s public or private dollars, Dr. Crall said. The environmental scan is set to be posted to the DQA’s home page on ADA.org in the coming weeks.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services asked the ADA in 2008 to be the lead agency in forming the DQA, with an initial charge of creating programmatic measures for children’s dental Medicaid programs.

“The work of the DQA is going to help establish the yardstick,” Dr. Crall said. “Our ultimate goal is to try to identify what we believe are the best methods or approaches for assessing the performance of these programs, which should help drive either the programs and plans to improve and to be able to actually identify which plans and what aspects of different plans seem to work best for the population.” 

The DQA has published a resource document titled “Quality Measurement in Dentistry: A Guidebook” to serve as a tool to educate various audiences on the basic purpose, importance and scope of the quality measurement within dentistry. To download the guidebook and for more information on the DQA, visit www.ada.org/5105.aspx.