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If they can introduce value-based cancer care, is value-based dental care far behind?

Partners In Prevention 1A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine summarized various initiatives in the US to improve the delivery of cancer care by examining all procedures (including drugs) for: safety, effectiveness, patient-centeredness, timeliness, efficiency, and equity.

The thrust of this assessment is to improve treatment outcomes, to pay for those procedures and drugs which have better evidence, and to contain costs.

The American healthcare system spends as much on dental care as it does on cancer care, so a similar assessment of how we deliver dental services to improve value, affordability and outcomes may also be important and timely.

At least, that is what the UK government has concluded. It has been conducting a similar review of dental services provided under the National Health Service which serves some 30 million adults. This review has been underway since 2009, has involved more than a hundred dental practices evaluating various patient journeys and risk assessments, changes in oral health and associated methods for compensating the dental team. It also involves a periodic  assessment of the evidence base for various preventive dental products such as fluoride varnish and high strength fluoride tooth paste. (Both have very limited evidence in adults, by the way.)

The upshot of the UK government’s review of value-based dental care appears to be an emphasis on delivering more prevention to high risk adult patients and less intensive care for the majority of healthy adults. While this makes sense from many angles, we’ll have to wait until 2018 to see how the National Health Service rolls out its new dental contract.

Times are changing in both cancer care and in dental care. In the healthcare budget, they are equally important.

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By: Ross Perry
SOURCED: Partners In Prevention –

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