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New compendium summarizes best practices in oral health service delivery

Compilation showcases ways community-based health care centers can expand access to care

March 06, 2020

By David Burger

 Image of Compendium of Innovations in Oral Health Service Delivery

 

Albany, N.Y. — Everyone loves a success story.

How about 25 success stories?

That’s exactly what readers will find in a new compilation that details best practices in innovative oral health service delivery programs drawn from over 40 case studies conducted by the Oral Health Workforce Research Center, part of the Center for Health Workforce Studies. The latter is an academic research center based at the School of Public Health on the Health Sciences Campus at the University at Albany, State University of New York.

Titled “Compendium of Innovations in Oral Health Service Delivery,” the 64-page digital booklet features organizations from across the country that have found success through varied measures in expanding oral care to underserved populations.

Organizations included were early adopters of:

• Oral health integration with primary care.
• Teledentistry.
• Mobile/portable dentistry services.
• Integration of primary care, oral health and behavioral health services.

Brief summaries of each organization include infographics on available services and patient populations and describe the problem, solution, facilitators, barriers and benefits that the highlighted organizations encountered.

Margaret Langelier, co-deputy director of the Oral Health Workforce Research Center, said the compilation is intended as a resource for other community-based health care centers that are looking for solutions to their own challenges. These success stories, she said, are meant to give inspiration and offer practical solutions for other centers.

“This was written because there are problems with access to care for certain population groups,” Ms. Langelier said.

 Logo of Center for Health Workforce Studies

Lack of access to oral health services is recognized as a serious public health problem that results in poor oral health status for many high-need populations, Ms. Langelier said. Oral health providers in the safety net, highlighted in the compendium, have used innovative strategies to expand access to oral health services in community-based settings, including federally qualified health centers, schools and nursing homes, among others.

One of the featured success stories comes from NYU Langone Dental Medicine, hailed for its teledentistry program and included in the compendium as a model.

Mary E. Northridge, Ph.D., director of dental research at NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn, said she was gratified that the teledentistry program was recognized by the Oral Health Workforce Research Center and can be used as a model for others.

“We hope to share all that we are learning about our oral pathology asynchronous telementoring intervention with the larger community of dental providers, especially those working with underserved populations, Dr. Northridge said. “We believe that our telementoring intervention, which was designed to aid in the detection of oral lesions, holds promise for reaching patients in rural areas and communities with limited access to care, who otherwise would be unable to consult with an oral pathology expert.”

The compendium reported that at NYU Langone, dental residents needed to gain exposure to the oral health needs of diverse populations and experience practice in settings other than private dentistry, so NYU Langone Dental initiated a successful dental residency programs using teledentistry modalities to maximize learning and to promote exposure to diverse patient populations and cases, with the engagement of a network of health centers such as federally qualified health centers.

In addition, each dental resident was required to select and present a case through videoconferencing to dental residents and faculty located at other residency sites.  Clinical training was also delivered to residents in real time using video-conferencing equipment on a platform that allowed for interactive synchronous learning.

As a result, the compendium’s authors conclude, “Graduates are prepared to provide culturally-competent and patient-centered dental care to socially and economically disadvantaged patients and those with special needs including a variety of complex medical conditions."