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DQA develops leaders to promote its mission


Dr. Hunt
They arrived knowing about the Dental Quality Alliance's mission and left knowing how to spread the word.

The DQA held a conference, titled Improving Dental Quality Through Measurement, at ADA Headquarters June 28-29 to develop and mentor some 125 leaders from around the country. The goal was to engage them as dental quality ambassadors to promote quality improvement and educate the dental community. The DQA selected 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.

"A number of heavy hitters within dentistry applied to participate in this conference," said Dr. Ronald Hunt, representative of the American Dental Education Association and DQA chair. "Dentists need to understand the importance of quality measurement, and these ambassadors are the perfect people to help them comprehend what it means to have consistent measures in dentistry. This conference was a significant step forward in engaging the community to learn about quality measurement and the DQA."

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

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.


Collaborative environment: Dr. Jim Crall, DQA member, right, listens to Dr. Allan Charles, left, during a breakout session. Attendees broke into small groups to brainstorm at the DQA conference June 28-29.
"While the DQA is gaining credibility and streamlining efforts to develop quality measures, there continue to be several others engaged in this activity. As a profession, we must take the lead in developing measures for oral health," said Dr. A. David May, chair of the American Dental Association Council on Dental Benefit Programs. "It is important that the ADA have input in the development of dental quality measures and we are doing this through the DQA. The ADA will strive to ensure that appropriate quality measures are advanced for oral health."

The focus on quality measures started almost a decade ago, and while the DQA has tried to craft appropriate measures, it has taken its time to ensure they are of the right caliber.

"It took us almost two years to develop the first set of measures," said Dr. Jim Crall, who represents the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry on the DQA and serves as chair of its Measure Development Committee. "Developing appropriate measures takes a lot of thought and effort, and we believe that the rigor of our testing meets the highest standards for measure development."

The DQA is continuing to strive to engage with other agencies developing measures for oral health to become the recognized leader.

The first set of measures developed by the DQA will be finalized at their meeting July 19. These are programmatic measures and they will be used by health plans and programs such as Medicaid to evaluate their performance. Poorly performing plans may then put in place quality improvement programs to address poor performance. Practitioners will be critical players in improving quality for the population enrolled within the health plan.

"As the health care system evolves and the financing systems look to become more outcomes-based, it is of utmost importance to advance appropriate quality measures. These measures will become the basis for some of the future payment models," said Dr. W. Ken Rich, representative of the Medicaid-CHIP State Dental Association and chair-elect of the Alliance. "Dentists must pay attention to this evolving field so they understand the measures and can both contribute and prepare for the changing environment."

For more information on the DQA, visit online.