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By Steve Pollock, president and CEO of DentaQuest
| November 15, 2018
The sun wasn’t up yet, but hundreds of people were already lined up in a parking lot in an impoverished area I’d been invited to visit by a state Medicaid director. Thousands of adults with no other access to oral health would get dental care that day thanks to a philanthropy called Missions of Mercy.
I was a young executive at DentaQuest, which today manages dental and vision benefits for 27 million Americans and provides care through growing networks of oral health centers in communities around the country.
I didn’t know it then, but this was clear evidence of our broken oral health system. Now, that pre-dawn gathering defines how I view the intersection of business and social justice.
The experience made me realize my job wasn’t about business results, it was about making a difference in the lives of others. Dental disease is nearly 100 percent preventable, and yet our system of oral health care is failing millions.
Despite extensive disruption in health care, oral health is virtually unchanged. We must do better. And DentaQuest—as the largest Medicaid oral health plan—has an obligation to do more, challenge the status quo, and lead the way to a more effective system.
The system is broken, but it can be fixed. We need a person-centered oral health revolution that:
1. Recognizes and acts on the fact that health starts in the mouth;
2. Changes the system to measure and pay for outcomes not procedures;
3. Addresses health equity disparities by improving access, coverage, and care; and
4. Takes oral care beyond the dental chair, focusing on prevention and meeting people where they live and work.
This is our revolution. This is Preventistry.
With a double bottom line, in which business performance and social impact go hand-in-hand, DentaQuest is equally committed to fixing the system and growing its business. We provide coverage and care for millions of Americans in 30 states and have invested more than $200 million in strategic philanthropy, care delivery improvement, research, and innovation advancing oral health in communities across the country. Preventistry is DentaQuest’s all-in approach to improving oral health for everyone by redefining prevention and care.
Preventistry requires value-based care—rewarding providers for keeping people healthy, not just for providing services. This is starting to happen in Oregon, Texas, and beyond. A value-based delivery system in oral health emphasizes prevention and care beyond the chair—efforts that expand access and advance health equity by bringing oral health into schools, homes, and communities.
And we are holding ourselves accountable. By the end of 2018, a half million people DentaQuest serves will get care under a value-based care model that will grow rapidly as we expand the model in other states.
Preventistry is innovation—partnering with disruptors, scientists, and designers of all types to catalyze next-generation oral health solutions.
Preventistry is transformative change, fundamentally altering the way we think about oral health to ensure all Americans can access quality oral health care.
More importantly, perhaps, Preventistry is a ground-up reimagining of oral health care. It’s financing, it’s delivery, it’s how we consider care itself. It’s not about a single company. It’s about a whole system.
Making good on the promise we’ve made to those being left behind—people who aren’t as healthy as they could be because our system of caring for them is lacking—will require the combined efforts of payers, providers, and policymakers. It will require imagination.
Most of all, it demands commitment to changing the system. With Preventistry, it begins now.