Developing a Framework to Accelerate Oral Health Equity Through Health Systems Transformation

Impact Brief – June 2022

As a part of its ongoing efforts to promote medical-dental integration among diverse partners, NACDD in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Oral Health (DOH) and KDH Research and Communication (KDHRC), planned and hosted a virtual convening on May 17, 2022. “Developing a Framework to Accelerate Oral Health Equity Through Health Systems Transformation” was attended by more than 70 participants. The purpose of the meeting was to engage with partners in a facilitated discussion about activities that will help to accelerate the inclusion of oral health as part of whole-person integrated care.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky provided opening remarks by video, saying that “achieving equity in oral health care is an ongoing challenge for many who struggle to obtain dental insurance and access to affordable care.” She emphasized that as a public health official, she connects the dots between oral health inequities and overall population health inequities, stating that “we cannot achieve equitable community outcomes without addressing oral health inequities.” Dr. Walensky expressed her gratitude for the recommendations that will emanate from this meeting to inform the development of a national framework to transform healthcare systems and engage community and public health organizations. She said that “this framework is one of CDC’s core Health Equity and Science and Intervention strategies because of its potential to accelerate oral health equity and care coordination that will improve chronic disease management and overall health throughout people’s lives.”

The agenda for the convening was informed by a recent extensive review of the literature that was conducted by KDHRC examining current programmatic and clinical integration strategies, and findings from key informant individual and group interviews. The information that was gathered took shape around the following four pillars areas:

  • Awareness
  • Workforce Development and Operations
  • Information Exchange
  • Payment

A panel presentation in the morning included “spotlights on success” from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials’ (ASTHO) behavioral health program as well as CDC programs (cardiovascular disease, developmental disabilities, diabetes, and tobacco) that have used similar pillar areas to advance their work. These pillar areas have the potential to accelerate the transformations that are needed on multiple levels (micro, medium, and macro). The facilitated small group conversations that occurred in the afternoon among diverse subject matter experts will inform the strategies contained in the national framework for action that will be designed to accelerate collaborations among clinical, public health, community, and other partners at the national, state, tribal, local, and territorial levels. Next steps for NACDD include sharing details about this developing initiative more broadly and implementation of a partner engagement strategy to foster ongoing collaboration efforts.

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