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Be a part of shaping dental quality

As health care systems and how they are financed continue to evolve, much attention is focused on how to measure the quality of patient care.

The Dental Quality Alliance, as established by the ADA, has taken the lead on developing quality measures within oral health care. These measures touch every practicing dentist in the United States, and as dentistry, how it's modeled and how it's financed changes in the future—specifically as a result of the Affordable Health Care Act—they'll become even more prevalent.

The mission of the DQA is to advance performance measurement as a means to improve oral health, patient care and safety through a consensus-building process. And here's your chance to have a say.

The DQA wants to find, develop and mentor around 100 leaders nationwide, transforming them into dental quality ambassadors to promote quality improvement and educate the dental community on this emerging field. The DQA will hold a conference at ADA Headquarters June 28-29 to train these ambassadors and give them the tools they need to promote the quality measures and make a marked improvement in the dental profession.

The DQA received a grant (R13HS021842) from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to host the conference, titled Improving Dental Quality Through Measurement. United Concordia Dental is also sponsoring the conference as a part of their continued commitment to improving oral health, the company said.

"We encourage participation from all stakeholder communities that are interested in improving oral health care," said Dr. Ronald Hunt, DQA chair, and associate dean for academic affairs at Midwestern University's College of Dentistry. "The ambassadors will learn how measuring quality can lead to improved oral health of the public. They can also help inform others in their community of the importance of measuring oral health care quality on a population basis."

Through an application process, the DQA aims to select a broad and diverse group of people who have the ability to impact priority and underserved populations across the country with significant health care disparities. To apply and to see a preliminary agenda, visit www.ada.org/8138.aspx. The deadline for applications is May 1.

The conference will help participants understand why dentistry needs measures to support quality improvement; examine emerging trends in quality, patient safety and leadership; review the measurement techniques necessary to develop and implement quality improvement projects in dentistry; and develop strategies for successfully leading and influencing health care improvement. It will be divided into three broad sessions to address the six domains of care as defined by the Institute of Medicine.

The first session will focus on providing patient-centered and effective care. Session two will cover how to provide equitable care while remaining efficient and the third session will instruct attendees on how to provide timely and safe care.

Attendees are eligible to earn up to 11 continuing education credits.

The DQA, formed in 2008 through a request from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is comprised of multiple stakeholders from across the oral health community who are committed to development of consensus-based quality measures. The DQA is also exploring whether the measures can be integrated into electronic health records and what role the alliance will play in the realm of quality measures within EHRs.

For more information on the DQA, visit ADA.org/dqa