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DQA brings together multi-stakeholder state teams to collaborate on improving care for Medicaid patients

March 12, 2019

By David Burger

Dr. Jim Crall
Inspiration: Dr. Jim Crall, professor and chair, UCLA Public Health and Community Dentistry, leads off the Medicaid Quality Improvement Learning Academy with an address.

Dr. Jim Crall opened with a call to action.

“You will be the innovators,” he told the assembled crowd.

Dr. Crall, professor and chair of UCLA Public Health and Community Dentistry, was the lead speaker and one of the organizers behind the Dental Quality Alliance’s first Medicaid Quality Improvement Learning Academy, an initiative that establishes a forum for peer-to-peer learning among multi-disciplinary teams from states to achieve sustainable quality improvement in Medicaid care.

Delegations from three states — Ohio, Missouri and Kansas — attended the two-day academy Feb 28.-March 1 at AQA Headquarters, with the groups aiming to collaborate with one another, as well as DQA faculty and coaches, to improve and measure the quality of delivery of Medicaid-covered care in not only federally qualified health centers but practices across their states.

The Dental Quality Alliance was established by the ADA to develop performance measures for oral health care and is an organization of major stakeholders in oral health care delivery with an aim to advance performance measurement as a means to improve oral health, patient care and safety through a consensus-building process.

The three states were the first to sign up to participate in the academy. Dr. Vinod Mirilaya, a member of the Ohio delegation, said he and other state leaders came to Chicago to break out of their self-imposed silos. “We are seeing what other people are doing and sharing information and best practices,” he said.

Each state came to the academy with different problems in their delivery of care, according to pre-session questionnaires.

In Missouri, there was a lack of dental visits for many 2- to 3-year-olds.

In Kansas, the participants wanted to increase access to care for children and adolescents with intellectual and development disabilities. And in Ohio, the delegation said that certain communities in the state had few or no dentists who treat Medicaid-covered individuals.

Dr. Vinod Mirilaya
Storyboards: Dr. Vinod Mirilaya, a member of the Ohio delegation, points out an aspect of the group’s storyboard on measurably improving care for Medicaid-eligible patients in the Buckeye State.

“The patients are underserved and we’re trying to provide access to dental homes,” said Dr. Mirilaya of the Ohio need. “The question are, How do I identify barriers for both patients and providers, and how can we connect them? It’s connecting the dots and putting the puzzle pieces together.”

Through frequent interaction and presentations from different stakeholders — including a representative from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services — the participants learned how help address their identified needs from not only the other states in attendance but from case studies from New Hampshire, New York, California, Massachusetts and Kentucky, as well as tailored interactions with DQA-affiliated experts who offered advice and guidance on quality improvement.

“I hope they leave here with boundless agency to take action in their states and areas of focus,” said Jane Taylor, Ed.D., one of the consultants who acted as a coach for the state teams. “They leave here as activating and motivating change agents.”

For Jill Boyston Herndon, Ph.D., another coach, the academy provided dedicated time for the participants who are often juggling different priorities. “This gives them time to think about one thing and focus on an action plan for Monday morning,” she said.

The DQA envisions this Learning Academy to be an opportunity for state Medicaid agencies to collaborate with national experts in oral health and engage with key local and state oral health stakeholders by phone and at in-person meetings to learn about, and design, oral health quality improvement projects to improve the health and well-being of children enrolled in participating state Medicaid managed care programs. The DQA intends this academy to be the go-to resource for other states looking for improve care for Medicaid-covered patients in their communities.

For more information about the Dental Quality Alliance, visit