Barriers and Facilitators in the Integration of Oral Health With Primary Care
One of the barriers to the integration of oral health into general health care is the lack of effective interdisciplinary collaboration. There is also a lack of explicit guidance from dental professionals or health authorities on oral health. The isolation of dental care systems from other sectors is a further barrier, as is the lack of purposeful sampling of patients to achieve more effective integration of oral health.
Providing oral health education to people with SMI is an important step toward improving their dental care. However, if an intervention is to be effective, it must tackle the most relevant barriers.
A study conducted by researchers at the University of York investigated the oral health care options available to those suffering from SMI. The findings suggest that an integrated model of care can provide a valuable service to this group of individuals. In addition, it was found that social support is necessary for learning to use an oral health program.
One of the study's main findings was the fact that carers, especially informal ones, can help motivate people with SMI to engage in healthy oral health behaviors. For example, a family member can accompany an individual to the dentist and help them to learn the proper way to brush their teeth.
It is also known that people with SMI have poorer oral health than the general population. Specifically, they have a 6.2 times higher chance of developing decayed teeth than those without SMI.
Oral health and medical care are often treated as independent systems. Dental providers and physicians must work together, but this integration can be challenging. Many barriers stand in the way.
For example, dental professionals must adapt their practices to meet the different credentialing processes. The lack of a shared understanding between the two professions can lead to an unnecessary burden for patients.
To address these issues, public health leaders must leverage the commitment of both dental practitioners and medical leaders. They need to create formal collaborations and strategies for health literacy to bridge the divide between the professions.
While efforts are underway to integrate oral and primary care, a substantial gap still exists. This is most apparent in pediatric populations. But in many other settings, the integration of dental and medical care is already well underway.
Several new models are also emerging. These services are delivered in community settings and are designed to bring dental care to people's homes and workplaces.
The integration of dental and medical care is a complex and challenging endeavor. As a result, the profession needs to develop innovative strategies to build an effective, efficient, and safe integrated system.
The isolation of dental care systems from other sectors is a barrier to a sufficient level of interdisciplinary collaboration. Patients navigating two separate systems may find it difficult to understand the differences and similarities between the two, resulting in poor quality of care.
One potential solution to the problem of inadequate communication is to use shared electronic health records to record patient history and treatment. In addition, shared electronic tools such as an appointment book and appointment reminders can serve as useful auxiliary means of communication between providers. However, the lack of interoperability between medical and dental EHRs further exacerbates the problem.
Another important step toward improving communication between the medical and dental systems is the development of a patient education program. This type of program can improve provider-to-provider communication by educating patients about their dental and medical insurance plans and providing them with the necessary referral information.
The integration of oral health with primary care has become a national priority. The Health Resources and Services Administration released a report to promote the early detection of dental disease and encourage clinical competency of primary care clinicians in oral health. However, barriers to successful integration remain. This study explored some of the challenges, strengths, and opportunities that can contribute to the effective integration of oral health with primary care.
One major obstacle to integrating oral health is a lack of a sufficient workforce. This is particularly evident in the absence of sufficient staff for dental services. It is also unclear what scope of services is available, and the lack of interoperable electronic medical record systems is a serious constraint to delivering patient-centered care. In addition, the regulatory environment perpetuates these workforce shortages.
An opportunity for effective oral health integration involves developing a culture of care in the health system and building the infrastructure. Advocacy efforts are needed to create an environment that supports these efforts and to develop workforce capacity. Other key factors include financing and operations.