Dental Quality Alliance (DQA) – The Measurement Challenge

The Dental Quality Alliance (DQA) hosted its 2015 conference titled The Roles of Quality Measurement at the ADA Headquarters Building in Chicago on May 1-2, 2015. The goal of the Conference is to develop dental quality ambassadors who can help lead change within the profession.

I gave a presentation titled “Dissemination and Implementation – Routine Practice“ at the Conference. Please find my slides and the references here as PDF. Several speakers during the conference raised the “lack of diagnostic coding available in dental claims limits the ability to collect and report this type of data” as identified in the 2010 NQF report “Oral Health Performance Measurement Technical Report.” This topic will be explored further during the planned dental diagnostic terminology conference titled “Toward a Diagnosis-Driven Profession” which will be held in March 2016 in Los Angeles immediately following the annual conference of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR). If you want to receive further information about the conference please contact Dr. Elsbeth Kalenderian or myself.

About the DQA
In 2008, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposed that the American Dental Association take the lead in establishing a Dental Quality Alliance to develop performance measures for oral health care. The DQA is an organization of major stakeholders in oral health care delivery that will use a collaborative approach to develop oral health care measures.

The DQA Guidebook succinctly states why self-evaluation is an important part of dentistry: “The dental profession is taking the lead in developing mechanisms for self evaluation. Self-evaluation will ensure that dentistry as a profession can provide evidence to the community at large that its members are responsible stewards of oral health. A culture of self-evaluation is the key to fostering the best healthcare for our patients ensuring transparency of health care quality and maintaining the credibility of the dental profession.”

However, there are huge barriers in dentistry when it comes to measuring health outcomes: “There is limited knowledge of true oral health outcomes, which occurs in part because dentistry does not have a tradition of formally reporting specific diagnoses or associating such diagnoses with specific services, (ref) especially through the claims process. Further, most dental practices and dental plans lack information systems capable of capturing and transmitting the information necessary for measurement (ref). Although retrospective claims data have many