ADA's Dental Quality Alliance approves performance measures

The ADA has announced the release of the first set of dental performance measures under the Dental Quality Alliance (DQA).

The DQA, comprised of multiple stakeholders from across the oral health community, was created to establish a series of oral health care performance measures. The DQA is meant to advance performance measurement as a means to improve oral health, patient care and safety through a consensus-building process. 

“As the only comprehensive multi-stakeholder collaborative,” said David May, DDS, chair of the ADA Council on Dental Benefit Programs, “the DQA is well-positioned to collaborate, coordinate and lead in measure development in dentistry through its members’ experience, expertise and support.”

This effort, initiated by ADA at the request of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), is designed to prepare the dental field to participate in the national efforts underway to improve the delivery of health care services, patient health outcomes and population health pursuant to federal health care reform. 

“The Affordable Care Act sets America on a path toward a higher quality health care system so we stop doing things that don’t work for patients and start doing more of the things that do work,” said Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. 

The DQA has just released its’ first set of measures, focusing on prevention and disease management of dental caries in children. The list of 10 tested and validated performance measures includes measures for evaluating utilization of services, evaluating the quality of care and evaluating costs, as listed below: 

Purpose Measure
Evaluating utilization Use of services
Preventive services
Treatment services
Evaluating quality of care Oral evaluation
Topical fluoride intensity
Sealant use in 6-9 years
Sealant use in 10-14 years
Care continuity
Usual source of services
Evaluating cost Per-member per-month cost

According to the DQA, these measures can be used to uniformly assess quality of care across private/public sectors and across state/community and national levels; uniformly assess utilization of certain services that are not supported by evidence, but which may be important in the context of providing a standard of care; monitor improvements in care; identify variations in care; and develop benchmarks for comparison.

The DQA has taken a balanced approach in developing these measures to ensure they evaluate multiple aspects of care, which is essential in understanding differences in performance and adequately planning for improved performance.

The DQA collaborated with the University of Florida Institute for Child Health Policy to evaluate and test the feasibility, validity, reliability and usability of each measure before issuing final approval. The ADA Foundation was responsible, in part, for funding the testing.

“The ADA Foundation is very proud to be part of this significant effort to develop the first fully validated set of performance measures for dentistry,” said David Whiston, DDS, ADA Foundation president. “We believe it is consistent with our mission to help advance the quality of care for the good of patients.”

To learn more about the DQA, visit ada.org .