Fast-Tracked Emergency Department Intervention Targets Adult Dental Frequent Utilizers

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011
This post was written by Cheryl Miller

A pilot to reduce emergency room visits by adult dental frequent utilizers in Ohio’s Medicaid population has met with early success, reports Mina Chang, Ph. D., of Ohio’s Department of Job and Family Services.

Unbearable tooth pain and unawareness of dental benefits are two factors behind adult dental frequent ED utilizers, one of three populations targeted by Ohio’s ED collaborative, explained Dr. Chang, chief, health services research and program development section, Bureau of Health Services Research, during today’s webinar. The five-region ED collaborative identified three ‘hot spot’ EDs where there was a high need for dental services as well as local providers for dental care intervention, and secured fast-tracked dental appointments for these patients.

The trial provided a resource for EDs to make dental appointments for its Medicaid members, and the collaborative hopes to expand the initiative.

The dental fast-tracked referrals were among a number of rapidly deployed interventions to reduce ER visits by the Medicaid population. The ED collaborative also targeted upper respiratory infections (URI) with separate interventions for children and adults, as well as frequent ED utilizers with either severe mental illness, chronic back pain or non-mental health conditions. The collaborative’s four-pronged URI intervention for children statewide included a colds toolkit, while an interdisciplinary team approach to reducing ED visits in the other priority populations satisfied patients, changed patient behavior, and increased the number of follow-up appointments kept by the ED visitors.

All of these interventions were deployed using a rapid cycle quality improvement approach, which meant that the collaborative didn’t have to wait years to see results, Dr. Chang explained. The collaborative has a ‘spread team’ so that the interventions can be expanded to other regions in the state. Listen to an interview with Dr. Chang.

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