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Unintended consequences and challenges of quality measurements in dentistry.

  • Author(s): Obadan-Udoh, Enihomo M
  • Calvo, Jean M
  • Panwar, Sapna
  • Simmons, Kristen
  • White, Joel M
  • Walji, Muhammad F
  • Kalenderian, Elsbeth
  • et al.

BACKGROUND:In recent years, several state dental programs, researchers and the Dental Quality Alliance (DQA) have sought to develop baseline quality measures for dentistry as a way to improve health outcomes, reduce costs and enhance patient experiences. Some of these measures have been tested and validated for various population groups. However, there are some unintended consequences and challenges with quality measurement in dentistry as observed from our previous work on refining and transforming dental quality measures into e-measures. MAIN BODY:Some examples of the unintended consequences and challenges associated with implementing dental quality measures include: a de-emphasis on patient-centeredness with process-based quality measures, an incentivization of unethical behavior due to fee-for-service reimbursement systems, the risk of compromising patient and provider autonomy with plan-level measures, a disproportionate benefits of dental quality measurement going toward payers, and the risk of alienating smaller dental offices due to the resource-intensive nature of quality measurement. CONCLUSION:As our medical counterparts have embraced quality measurement for improved health outcomes, so too must the dental profession. Our ultimate goal is to ensure the delivery of high quality, patient-centered dental care and effective quality measurement is the first step. By continuously monitoring the performance of dental quality measures and their continued refinement when unintended consequences are observed, we can improve patient and population health outcomes.

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