Medical-dental integration, collaborative health care explored in latest CDA Journal collection

Articles examine the dentist’s role in solving serious issues of improved access and outcomes in an integrated system

October 3, 2023
130
Quick Summary:
Included in the collection is an update on efforts to integrate dental coverage in the Medicare program; a review of recent data on the increasing number of patients who seek dental care at hospital emergency departments; and a discussion with examples of the ways dental providers are increasingly entering the public health arena. Another article offers insights into dental providers’ role in stemming substance-use disorders and participating in patients’ recovery and includes an opportunity to earn C.E. credit.

“Research continues to identify more instances of the bidirectional correlation between patients’ physical and oral status, with growing evidence that treatment outcomes on both sides of the equation are often hinging on improving oral and systemic health simultaneously,” writes Richard W. Graham, DDS, in the introduction to the latest collection of the Journal of the California Dental Association.

“This collection is not about teaching anyone how to perform a universally accepted dental procedure. It is about becoming aware of changes that are already in progress, changes that affect our practices, our patients, and our responsibilities to the public.”

Included in the collection is an update on efforts to integrate dental coverage in the Medicare program; a review of recent data on the increasing number of patients who seek dental care at hospital emergency departments; and a discussion with examples of the ways dental providers are increasingly entering the public health arena.

Yet another article offers insights into dental providers’ role in both stemming substance-use disorders and participating in patients’ recovery and includes an opportunity to earn C.E. credit by completing an online quiz. 

Medical-dental integration in Medicare: What’s happening now, what’s ahead

This year marked a promising advance in Medicare’s dental coverage with the CMS’s release of the 2023 Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule that included reimbursing dental care that is “integral to treating a beneficiary’s medical condition” in both inpatient and outpatient settings, write authors Lisa Simon, MD, DMD, and Elizabeth Alpert, DDS, MPH, in “Medical-Dental Integration in Medicare: Where Are We Now?”

This rule establishes a promising precedent for considering future coverage of oral health services when they are “inextricably linked and substantially related and integral to the clinical success of other covered medical services,” the authors write.

The article explores recent changes to traditional Medicare that impact dental coverage and discusses structural considerations of a comprehensive Medicare dental benefit, among other subtopics. 

Hospital ED visits for non-traumatic dental conditions: Challenges and opportunities

Every year in the U.S., emergency departments receive approximately 2.4 million visits for non-traumatic dental conditions.

In “Barrier to Care: Emergency Department Utilization for Non-traumatic Dental Conditions in California,” authors T. Zokaie, MPH, MAS, CPH, M.R. Clements, MPH, and M.A. Sweeney, MD, discuss their review of primary diagnostic non-traumatic dental conditions in California emergency departments during 2016-19 and conclude that a significant number of dental-related visits to the ED end with no clear diagnosis because the code does not link to a follow-up provider.

“Relatively few dental-related ED visits are associated with highly informative NTDC codes, limiting surveillance efforts to track the prevalence of underlying conditions,” the authors conclude, adding that opportunity exists to “guide patients to proper dental care and follow-up by 1) forming local dental partners with EDs and 2) establishing referral protocol through case managers.”

Improving outcomes for dental patients with substance-use disorders 

Two additional articles discuss California dentists’ expanding role in the public health arena in response to COVID-19 and harm reduction as a strategy dentists can employ to improve outcomes for dental patients with opioid-use disorder and other SUDs. Dentists who read the latter article and successfully complete an online quiz will earn .5 units C.E. credit.

Read the full CDA Journal collection, Medical-Dental Integration: Exploring Our Role in Collaborative Health Care.

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