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Arcora Foundation: Improving Oral Health and Health Equity

Tuesday, March 13, 2018   (0 Comments)
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Diane Oakes, President and CEO

Arcora Foundation, formerly Washington Dental Service Foundation, is a nonprofit dedicated to improving oral health in Washington.  Our mission is to improve health by bending the arc of oral health toward equity. We work with partners to create significant and lasting changes that prevent disease, improve access to care and transform health systems. Some of our efforts include: 

  • supporting demonstration projects
  • advocating for health policies that prevent disease and expand care
  • developing training and tools for healthcare providers
  • promoting prevention and healthy behaviors
  • expanding access to care through grants to increase capacity and supporting a mobile dental van, the SmileMobile.

Equity drives our work.  We aim to eliminate disparities so everyone benefits from good oral health and better overall health.  Highlighted below are some examples of our initiatives.

Working with FQHCs to increase access and improve quality

We recognize the unique value FQHCs provide in the delivery of oral health care and value our partnerships with health centers across Washington.  To help increase the oral health capacity of FQHCs, Arcora Foundation has invested considerable resources over the past 15 years.  These investments include capital funding to increase dental capacity, fostering collaboration and the sharing of best practices, and driving national strategies that will benefit local FQHCs.

Dental Learning Network to share best practices
In 2009, Arcora Foundation and the Washington Association of Community & Migrant Health Centers (WACMHC) developed the Dental Learning Network (DLN).  DLN is a collaborative community of dental directors responsible for delivering oral health care through Washington CHCs.  The network convenes quarterly and provides the opportunity for dental directors to problem solve common challenges, share strategies, and learn from national experts.  

Health Center Dashboard includes quality measures
In 2015 at the request of a subset of FQHC’s, Arcora Foundation in partnership with Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation developed a set of oral health quality measures for FQHC dental programs.  The Health Center Dental Dashboard includes 15 measures to assess and track different aspects of patient care and to drive systemic operational, financial and clinical improvements over time.   HRSA/NNOHA launched an oral health collaborative use the Dental Dashboard as the core resource for their activities.  Numerous FQHC’s have worked to collect metrics, engage in quality improvement and further test and refine the Dental Dashboard.  

DentistLink – Connecting to a dentist just got easier

DentistLink is a new online tool developed by Arcora Foundation to increase access to care by connecting patients in Washington to nearby dentists. DentistLink can be used as a “self-service” tool for patients to find care on their own and for patients who would like additional support, such as assistance with transportation Referral Specialists, (English and Spanish) can help. Other language assistance is also available. 

DentistLink is open to all regardless of insurance status. Patient education and support from Referral Specialists results in a high show-up rate. As part of an Emergency Room diversion program in Spokane, Unify Community Health is accepting referrals from DentistLink.
To learn more about DentistLink, please contact Laura Flores Cantrell LFlores@ArcoraFoundation.org.

Medical/Dental Integration – Ensuring the right care at the right time

Incorporating oral heath into routine medical care offers an opportunity to improve health, reduce disparities, and minimize the social and economic costs of preventable oral disease. That’s why Arcora Foundation has trained almost half of Washington providers caring for young children to deliver oral health preventive services and to refer to a dentist for follow-up care, as appropriate.

As transformation continues to break down traditional health care silos, Interest in oral health integration grows.  Preparing for Alternative Payment Models incentivizes deeper interdisciplinary collaboration. Arcora has worked with FQHC partners to develop population oral health models that enable diagnostic data sharing between medicine and dentistry to track and evaluate changes in clinical outcomes and close gaps in care.

Mighty Mouth Campaign - Increasing awareness and changing behaviors

The Mighty Mouth campaign aims to increase awareness about the value of oral health and motivate people to do more to prevent oral disease through healthy behaviors. This year, the campaign focuses on lower-income women with messages about the importance of oral health checkups. Campaign messages are being delivered in English and Spanish through digital ads, TV and radio. One series of ads reminds pregnant women that dental care is prenatal care. The second series deliver the message that every child needs an oral health checkup by age one.


How You Can Get Involved
Share free Mighty Mouth materials with your audiences including articles for newsletters and blogs, posters, infographics, and social media content. Help increase awareness about the importance of oral health and the need to brush, floss, eat healthy snacks, and get regular checkups. Go to The MightyMouth.org to learn more and help unleash the power of oral health. Link to our Facebook and Twitter pages while you’re there and help deliver the message, “You’re healthier with a healthy mouth”.




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