Medical-Dental Integration Can Improve Healthcare Outcomes

A report, funded by the Delta Dental Institute, indicates streamlined communication and care team collaboration and adaptability are best practices for positive patient outcomes

Increasing communication between dental and medical providers reduces barriers to care according to a new report circulated in New Jersey by Delta Dental of New Jersey. According to the study, conducted by the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine, Medical-Dental Integration (MDI) improves positive health outcomes in vulnerable populations, such as at-risk children, pregnant women, seniors, and those in need of chronic disease management.

“This report underscores a fact that we’ve experienced first-hand in New Jersey for more than 50 years – that oral health and overall physical health are inextricably linked,” stated Dennis G. Wilson, president and CEO of Delta Dental of New Jersey & Connecticut. “Oral health care is a critical component to overall wellness – and this especially is true for at-risk populations.”

Dr. Tamanna Tiwari, assistant professor in the department of community dentistry and population health at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine on the Anschutz Medical Campus led the review of MDI models over the last decade.

“The review finds that in an MDI model, coordinated, streamlined communication and collaboration among the entire care team is critical for positive patient outcomes and provider engagement,” Dr. Tiwari said. “Identifying creative ways to adapt to specific situations may help increase access to oral health screenings, diagnosis and referral of patients for chronic disease management. This has the potential to reduce the number of appointments and providers a patient must interact with, which increases the likelihood that patients will receive critical preventive care.”

The Delta Dental Institute funded the report, which supports the research-based exploration of care delivery models like MDI that improve health care outcomes and advance patient-centered care.

“Oral health is a critical component of whole person health,” said Joseph Dill, DDS, MBA, Head of Dental Science at the Delta Dental Institute. “Care delivery models that rely on collaboration and integration between primary and dental care teams, when implemented successfully, can create more inclusive approaches that help the health care system work better for everyone.”

Dr. Tiwari will present her report discoveries at the Interprofessional Collaborations to Improve Oral Health poster session on November 7, 2022, during the American Public Health Association’s Annual Meeting.

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