At Virginia Garcia, we are well aware of the connections between oral health care and primary care: a number of our clinics are co-located and we know that providers would refer patients to each other.
It wasn’t, however, happening regularly across VG or being documented, and there was no follow up with the 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, and it made perfect sense for VG to make medical and dental integration a priority.
“More people access primary care than dental as a point of contact,” said Daniel Ornelas, VG dental program manager. “Patients will listen to their primary care provider. If the provider sees something and recommends the patient talks to dentist, they’ve set something in motion to follow through with a referral.”
Dental and medical integration is one of our Strategic Initiatives. Our first priority will be to focus on at risk populations including pregnant women, children, and diabetics. The goal is to provide seamless communication between any team member engaged in patient care. In addition, we will be working with OCHIN to create tools to enhance our ability to close care gaps across departments. Funded by a grant from CareOregon, integration ought to help us meet our diabetes metric, as well as provide our patients better care.
We officially began integrating seven months ago with a pilot referral project by Team 4 at the Beaverton Clinic, funded by Oregon Primary Care Association. The project created a screening workflow for diabetic patients with A1c levels greater than 9 --considered uncontrolled diabetes -- to refer them to a dentist. Dental periodontal treatment has shown reduction in A1c levels long term.