Acronyms, Not Acrimony

Acronyms, Not Acrimony

James K. Zenk, D.D.S.:
 
 
When we entered dental school and began our new lives as dentists, we had to learn a new language, a language filled with acronyms. At my orientation for my new role as your ADA Trustee, I was  given a four-page cheat sheet of the most commonly used acronyms in the American Dental Association. I am now in my second year of a four-year commitment as Trustee, and am steadily getting  more familiar with my new language.
 
One acronym that I need to learn more about is DQA. This is not the tasty ice cream at Dairy Queen of America. It is Dental Quality Alliance. The DQA is an alliance of 30 stakeholders that includes  specialty societies, other provider organizations, the dental benefi ts and health plan industry, federal agencies, non-dental stakeholders, and public members. The mission of the Dental Quality  Alliance is “to advance performance measurement as a means to improve oral health, patient care, and safety through a consensus building process”.
 
The DQA was formed as a result of the ADA House of Delegates Resolution 34H-2008 and Board Resolution B-120-2008. The Council on Dental Benefits Programs (CDBP) is the lead agency representing the ADA on the DQA. Our very own (i.e., Minnesota dentist) Mark Jurkovich is our ADA 10th District representative to the CDBP and DQA. Please join me in thanking Mark for his many  years of involvement supporting our profession and association in his work on dental benefits, standards, and quality measurements. 
 
The DQA supports the ADA’s Strategic Plan Goal #3, which is to “improve public health outcomes through a strong collaborative profession; including effective collaboration across the spectrum of stakeholders outside of dentistry”. The DQA’s intent is to be the leading source for appropriate quality and performance measures to support a high quality health care delivery system. It is not a  “big brother” wanting to check our crown margins. What it is about is the health system as a whole, and supporting the services consistent with current knowledge to increase likelihood of better  outcomes. As the quest to move toward a “value driven” health care system gains traction and the need for quality measures becomes imperative, the work of the DQA provides the ADA the advantage to be the “go to” source for appropriate quality measures for oral health care.
 
Why adopt DQA performance measures? These measurements provide a mechanism by which to evaluate the aspects of utilization, quality, and cost. Quality measurement will impact payment reforms. For this reason, it is very important for the ADA to engage in this activity. A current example of the practical use of performance measurements to help improve our patients’ oral health  came last year when the DQA completed and approved the first set of 10 measures for the pediatric population, “Dental Caries in Children: Prevention and Disease Management”. The 10 measures  developed after two years of rigorous testing are:
• use of services 
• preventive services
• treatment services
• oral evaluation
• topical fluoride intensity
• sealant use in six- to nine-year-olds; sealant use in 10-14-year olds
• care continuity
• usual sources of services
• and per-member per-month cost.
 
These measures were developed by the dental community and validated through a number of studies. If not a DQA, someone else would do this work of developing measures of oral health, many of  them inappropriate and without the input from the dental community. The current task of the DQA is to promote these measures at the state level to continue to improve access to and utilization of dental services for children enrolled in Medicaid. As the only comprehensive multi-stakeholder collaborative, the DQA is well positioned to collaborate, coordinate, and lead in measures development in  dentistry through our members’ experience, expertise, and support. To learn more about the DQA, visit www.ada.org/5105.aspx.
 
Ready for more acronyms?
NDC: New Dentist Conference. The ADA 28th NDC is set for July 17-19th at the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center. This event will provide new dentists (fewer than 10 years out of dental school) with tools and resources, including dental education and leadership development, to help them become better dentists at this time in their careers. To register, visit ada.org/newdentistconf and click on the “Register Now” button.
 
“ADA 2014: America’s Dental Meeting” will be October 9-14 in San Antonio, Texas. Please plan on joining your friends at the “Alamo City” this fall at the ADA Annual Session. The meeting features  more than 300 continuing education courses, more than 550 exhibitors in the ADA Exhibit Hall, and a variety of special events and networking opportunities. George W. Bush will be the featured  speaker at the opening session. The American Association of Women Dentists (AAWD) will hold its 93rd Annual Meeting in conjunction with ADA 2014 in San Antonio. Come and enjoy San Antonio’s  historic and diverse atmosphere, including the two most visited attractions in Texas, the Alamo and the River Walk. The ADA has contracted reduced rates with multiple hotels in San Antonio for  Annual Session attendees. Register using the ADA 2014 registration system at ADA.org/meeting.
 
I cannot wait to see you all in San Antonio. DFYCHAB (don’t forget your cowboy hat and boots)!
 
 
 
*Dr. Zenk is the Trustee to the Tenth District of the American Dental Association, representing Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. He is a general dentist in Montevideo,  Minnesota. Email is zenkj@ada.org.