LA County Dental Pilot
Connecting medical and dental care in LA County
Applying medical and dental strategies in LA county
Medical and dental collaboration
In 2012, Children Now took the lead of a medical-dental collaboration project aimed at increasing early, preventive dental service utilization among children ages 1-6 years who are enrolled in Medi-Cal in Los Angeles County.
Doing what’s best for kids
Due to Children Now’s reputation of “doing what’s best for kids” and our trusted relationships across the health, oral heath, and early childhood fields, and among policymakers, the organization was able to engage and regularly convene the stakeholders - the “Implementation Team” necessary to develop a comprehensive and effective pilot project.
Breaking down the barriers
The Implementation Team developed a strategy for medical providers to refer children they see to the dentist. However, 2 major barriers were identified:
1. The Medi-Cal Dental and Medi-Cal Managed Care Divisions needed
to agree to share data with each other about the same child, and
2. DHCS needed to approve sharing the names of non-utilizing children
with the child’s primary care physician (PCP).
Children Now led the critical facilitation of a data-sharing agreement between the Medi-Cal Dental Services and Managed Care Divisions at the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) so that the medical and dental divisions can share data about the same child.
Data sharing and implementation
With the data-sharing agreement in place,
Children Now started to recruit practices to
the pilot, for which 9 PCP practices agreed
Recruiting Primary Care Physicians
Children Now reached out and recruited 9 of the top 25 PCPs with the largest numbers/percentages of non-utilizing children to participate in the pilot. However, the pediatricians wanted to know the names of each patient under the age of 6 who had not had a dental visit in the last 12 months.
Children Now believed this would be possible with the existing data sharing agreement, but this became another point of contention with DHCS’ Office of Legal Services (OLS). Over a series of calls, the team developed a solution to this roadblock by submitting a memo outlining the reasons and examples why sharing such information should be allowed in the pilot.
This memo ultimately helped to allay DHCS’ concerns and allow PCPs to know which children in their practice had not had a dental visit.
Successful launch of the pilot project
Children Now was able to successfully launch the pilot and is providing information, materials, and other support to the PCPs to refer children to dental providers.
Now, medical providers can reach out directly to educate, screen, and provide dental appointment referrals to parents/caregivers of non-utilizing children during scheduled well visits. The 9 participating sites in Children Now’s pilot have the potential to reach more than 3,000 kids in Los Angeles under the age of 6.
Children Now’s Pilot Project can be scaled
to other counties, statewide and to other states.
A recent report on the pilot shares how medical sites helped to improve dental care access for young children
How did we do?
A recent report on the pilot shares now medical sites helped to improve dental care access for young children. The project created a protocol that was shared with medical sites, brochures in several Medicaid threshold languages in LA County, and a prescription pad form for the primary care provider to prescribe a visit to a dental provider for a non-utilizing child.
Out of the 32,000 children who were reached through the pilot, 58% saw a dentist within 6 months of a doctor’s visit.
Building upon our LA experience, we are implementing the Medical-Dental Collaboration Pilot in Sacramento and Amador Counties as a part of Every Smile Counts! Local dental pilot project made possible through the Dental Transformation Initiative that is part of California’s Medicaid 1115 waiver.
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