Happy Mouth Happy Body

by User Not Found | Oct 11, 2018

Tooth mascot Dr. Tomás MediDent helped kick off Virginia Garcia’s Happy Mouth Happy Body oral health integration launch. Virginia Garcia (VG) was awarded a two-year grant by CareOregon Dental to improve how their medical and dental care teams work together. The grant focuses on reducing care gaps for at-risk populations (people with uncontrolled diabetes, pregnant women, young children) with the goal of expanding medical/dental integration to all VG clinics.

VG is aware of the connections between oral health care and primary care: A number of VG clinics are co-located and they know that providers would refer patients to each other. The referrals, however, weren’t consistently happening across VG or being documented, and there was no follow up with patients.

Research demonstrates a direct connection between good oral health and overall health, especially in controlling diabetes. Combine that with a national call to action to integrate oral health into primary care, VG decided to make medical and dental integration a priority. “More people access primary care than dental,” said Daniel Ornelas, VG dental program manager. “Patients listen to their primary care provider. If the provider sees something and recommends the patient talk to a dentist, they’ve set something in motion to follow through with a referral.”

Dental and medical integration is one of VG’s Strategic Initiatives. VG’s first priority is to focus on at-risk populations including pregnant women, children, and diabetics. The goal is to provide seamless communication among all team members engaged in patient care. VG will be working with OCHIN to create tools for Epic’s medical/dental integrated electronic health record. These tools will be shared with CareOregon Dental’s partners and will enhance the ability to close care gaps across departments, from medical to dental.

As part of the plan to increase access to dental care, VG has embedded an expanded practice dental hygienist in the Women’s Clinic for oral health assessments, screenings, treatment and referrals to medical or additional dental services or both. The hygienist will also become part of the diabetes management team, helping to identify areas that oral health messaging could be incorporated, and eventually being embedded in a primary care team seeing patients with diabetes.

“This project has the potential to improve communication between medical and dental teams across VG,” said Conchita Lovato, integration project manager. “Working together, we can vastly improve the services for our patients as well as improve their health and meet our metrics.”

Submitted by Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center

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