New Initiative May Lower Costs Of Pricey Dental Care

Piedmont Health Services in Greensboro and the Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services are taking part in a new program.

The Community Oral Health Transformation Initiative is being launched with 14 dental clinics across North Carolina to explore the benefits a new model of oral health care delivery.

Dental health has been a key concern over the years in Guilford County because dental problems can be very serious and expensive to remedy – and there isn’t a strong enough safety net of dental services for the people who need help but can’t afford traditional dental care.

The “safety-net clinics” participating in the Oral Health Transformation Initiative are part of “a learning community that aims to reimagine what efficient oral health care looks like.”

The initiative is meant to offer “value-based” oral health care, where payment is tied to health outcomes instead of the traditional “fee-for-service” model – “where financial incentives are tied to the number of procedures performed.”

The new model will take a new approach such as expanding the use of teledentistry for prevention, integrating dental health into overall health care, and looking for less expensive and minimally invasive dental care solutions – including seeking non-surgical remedies when possible.

The North Carolina Oral Health Collaborative is partnering with others including CareQuest Institute for Oral Health to run the program.

NC Oral Health Collaborative Director Dr. Zachary Brian stated in a press release that he hopes this can improve dental health care across the state and make it more affordable.

“We are thrilled to see the Initiative take off,” Brian said. “Value-based oral health care would ideally improve health outcomes, enhance patient experience, and increase cost efficiency.”

He also called the initiative “a groundbreaking opportunity to support change management in community-based clinics and enable them to explore this model of care.”

Together, the 14 participating dental clinics provide service to people in 47 of North Carolina’s 100 counties.

In addition to Piedmont Health Services and the Guilford County DHHS dental clinic, other participants include:

  • Access Dental
  • AppHealth Center
  • Blue Ridge Community Health Services
  • Cabarrus Health Alliance
  • Carolina Family Dental Center
  • Clayton Pediatric Dentistry
  • Guilford County DHHS Clinic
  • High Country Community Health
  • Mecklenburg County Pediatric Dental Center
  • Pender County Main Dental Clinic
  • UNC Hispanic Student Dental Association
  • United Health Centers
  • Wake County DHHS Dental Clinic

Over the next year, the clinics will implement a “value-based payment system” and the clinical and financial data will be tracked.

Once the initial phase is complete, a comprehensive report will be written up to “inform long-term reform.”

Funded by CareQuest Institute and Blue Cross NC Foundation, the initiative is modeled after similar successful programs in Massachusetts, Ohio and Arizona.

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