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Medical-Dental Integration Improves Outcomes

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A report from the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine shows that close communication between dental and medical providers improves health outcomes and reduces barriers to care. As noted in the study, “Medical-Dental Integration Models: A Critical Review of the Last Decade,” medical-dental integration (MDI) supports positive health outcomes, particularly in vulnerable populations, including at-risk children, pregnant women, and older adults

“In the MDI model, coordinated communication and collaboration are critical for provider engagement and positive outcomes,” notes Tamanna Tiwari, BDS, MDS, MPH, an assistant professor at the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine. Tiwari adds that integrated care “may help increase access to oral health screenings, diagnosis, and referral of patients for chronic disease management. This has the potential to reduce the number of appointments and clinicians a patient must interact with, which increases the likelihood that patients will receive critical preventive care.”

Among the report’s key findings are that sharing electronic health records, the colocation of services, and using telehealth technologies can support coordinated care and referrals, especially when managing complex patients. Perhaps the most important takeaway is there is no single “best” MDI model; rather, the authors suggest that adapting to specific situations and finding creative ways to maximize health impacts are crucial to the success of integrated care.

From Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. June 2023; 21(6):10

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