The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced a unique set of challenges for Medicare Advantage and Medicaid health plans. Budgets are shrinking as membership swells, and members are faced with increasing hurdles as they try to access care. Knowing that oral health has a direct and significant influence on overall health, now more than ever it is critical to get innovative about dental.
The right dental strategy has the potential to dramatically lower your plan costs while expanding access, enhancing quality and improving overall health outcomes for your members. How can you make this a reality for your organization?
There are three strategies we are finding particularly effective as we help our Medicaid and Medicare health plan clients chart a successful path through today’s changing waters.
1. Embrace a value-based care model
It’s time to transition dental care delivery from “the more you do, the more you get paid,” to a new approach that rewards the quality of health outcomes, not the volume of services. In a value-based care model, providers focus on improving the health of their members by offering individualized care that is focused on prevention. This shift allows care teams to maximize their patient impact and ensure care excellence.
Evolving to value-based care starts with rethinking provider payment models to reward providers for keeping patients healthy. It also means creating individualized care plans that get your members more engaged in the journey to improve their own health. At DentaQuest, our transformative strategies are designed to support and benefit plans, providers, and members in making these essential shifts. For example we offer value-based care learning modules, care readiness assessments and new metrics, measures and incentives that help our clients reimagine their existing approaches and accelerate value-based care systems within their organizations.
2. Expand your focus on prevention through medical-dental integration
Preventative dental care is the key not only to oral health, but to overall health. In fact, 90% of all systemic diseases manifest in the mouth. Consistent, quality preventive care reduces the likelihood of costly, preventable dental work and emergency visits. Medical-dental integration is an approach to care that puts the focus on prevention, coordinating dental medicine with other facets of health care to improve patient and population health.
Medical-dental integration programs position the patient at the center, enabling plans and providers to come together to develop comprehensive care plans that reflect the whole patient. This commitment to break down the silos between medical care and oral health improves patient and population health and saves plans money. For example, at DentaQuest we recognize the connection between oral health and a healthy pregnancy and offer preventive practices through our Smiling Stork program that are designed to both improve the health of the mother and child and conserve future healthcare costs.
3. Remove roadblocks to care through technology
Even before the pandemic, 3 in 4 patients lacked access to dental care due to cost, lack of insurance and transportation challenges and 56 million Americans lived in areas with a shortage of dental professionals. Covid has raised these already high stakes. Many members are more hesitant than ever to get proactive dental care and if they want it, they may have more trouble than usual accessing it. Helping them through this time requires a willingness to look beyond the dental chair and use technology to help remove the roadblocks standing between your members and quality care.
Teledentistry allows for the virtual delivery of oral health and education services, meeting members where they are to help close the widening access gap. A recent DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement white paper, the Fast-Track to Teledentistry, explored these issues and outlined how teledentistry can help close the gap. You can see DentaQuest putting the power of technology into action through our Find-a-Dentist tool and a special teledentistry app that empowers members to take charge of their oral health and identify direct access to care no matter what their circumstance may be. These kinds of progressive tools help lower the cost of care and have the potential to decrease dental claims costs by enabling the proactive management of oral disease.
These proven innovative solutions make it possible to achieve better quality care at a lower cost, even in the most trying of times.
Have questions? Reach out to one of our experts to learn about the opportunities these strategies can uncover for your organization: https://dentaquest.com/health-plans/contact-us/