The Illinois Primary Health Care Association (IPHCA) was selected by the DentaQuest Foundation as one of five primary care associations (PCAs) to implement the Oral Health Safety Net project. IPHCA’s “Oral Health Enhancement through TIPS (Training, Integration, Policy and SNS Consultation)” project will strengthen the oral health safety net in Illinois by improving the delivery of oral health care and prevention in community health centers (CHCs) by:
1. Providing technical assistance to selected health centers to develop actionable strategies for enhancing access to quality oral health services, and to achieve/maintain financial practicality;
2. Preparing CHC-based oral health clinicians to assume leadership roles through trainings;
3. Augmenting current opportunities available through IPHCA’s clinical programs for oral health and primary care professional interactions;
4. Assisting in the development of policies
5. Collaborating with local, state and national entities to increase public and private funding for oral health initiatives in Illinois.
As a result of the successes of the program, the DentaQuest foundation has extended project funding to include services through FY 2013. During this grant cycle, IPHCA will work with the DentaQuest Institute to increase access to Safety Net Solutions (SNS) practice management consultation for an additional five member sites. This SNS consultation starts with an in-depth analysis of the dental clinic’s operations followed by an enhancement plan, which includes recommendations for improvement along with a strategic action plan for completion. The entire process will last about two years; the first six months are the most active period. The remaining time is allowed for follow-up and any changes to the plan that the dental clinic wishes to adopt. The clinics chosen for consultation must be willing to share their business operations information with SNS. The cost of the practice management consultation is offered at no charge to selected IPHCA members. View SNS RFP Overview & Expectations.
As part of the Initiative, DentaQuest’s evaluators (Harder+Company Community Research) will conduct a survey of all IPHCA members and compile information about the oral health safety net in Illinois. This survey includes questions regarding oral health services, staffing, barriers to primary care, oral health integration, challenges associated with dental practice management, financial sustainability, training needs, oral health policy, and state PCA support. View a collection of last year’s survey results and applications for CHCs interested in participating in the FY13 SNS project.
In the first year of this project, IPHCA developed a leadership training program for dental directors and other oral health clinicians interested in moving into leadership roles in an FQHC dental clinic. Feedback from our training programs resulted in a need for greater dental leadership and management. Through a successful partnership with the University of Illinois School of Public Health and the National Network for Oral Health Access, training opportunities focused on finance, human resources, peer interaction were provided along with advance dental advocacy efforts. IPHCA’s systematic approach to training and leadership development resulted in the first and only oral health representative to serve on the board of the Midwest Clinicians Network.
IPHCA staff continues to make concerted efforts to enhance health literacy, train and mentor additional dental directors and emphasize integration of oral health services within health center operations. Several IPHCA members have adopted the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (ICAAP) Bright Smiles from Birth program as a strategy for increased collaboration among medical and dental providers. Staff is also reviewing the Illinois State Dental Society’s (ISDS) Bridge to Healthy Smiles program and the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine Group’s oral health curriculum, which will be instrumentalin IPHCA’s ongoing promotion of medical-dental integration.
IPHCA staff is actively collaborating with I-FLOSS, Chicago Oral Health Forum, Illinois Oral Health Plan III, as well as philanthropic foundations to advance oral health safety net initiatives and related funding in Illinois.