Health Policy

PPC Team Develops Definition for Patient-Centered Dental Home

Photos of Damiano, Reynolds, McKernan & Kuthy

Health Services Research published an article on the first standardized definition of the patient-centered dental home (PCDH), developed by Public Policy Center researchers Peter Damiano, Julie Reynolds, Susan McKernan, and Ray Kuthy; and Jill Herndon from Key Analytics, a research partner on the PCDH project. Health Services Research is one of the top health policy/health services research journals in the country.

The article, “The patient-centered dental home: A standardized definition for quality assessment, improvement, and integration,” was the result of a study funded by the DentaQuest Foundation. The study sought to develop an established, nationally-recognized model for dental care delivery similar to the patient-centered medical home (PCMH), which was originally developed in the 1970s to improve care coordination for children with special health care needs. The PCMH has since evolved to include other individuals regardless of age or health status.

Because education, insurance, and care delivery in dentistry are significantly different than that of medicine, patient-centered dental care did not fit the PCMH model. The standardized definition of a PCDH will serve as a framework to measure and improve the quality of dental care through a more integrated delivery system. 

The study gathered primary data from a 55-member panel of national experts, in three rounds of surveys, and also included a one-month public comment period. Eighty-nine percent of the experts completed all three rounds of surveys and identified eight key characteristics to define the PCDH as such, “The patient-centered dental home is a model of care that is accessible, comprehensive, continuous, coordinated, patient- and family-centered, and focused on quality and safety as an integrated part of a health home for people throughout the life span.”

Primary investigator, Peter Damiano, had this to say about the publication of this article, “We greatly appreciate that Health Services Research, and their reviewers, understood the rigor of the methods used in  developing this foundational definition of a patient-centered dental home model of care and the value it will have to improve the ability to integrate dentistry and oral health into the broader health care delivery system. The active involvement of our large panel of national experts was also critically important to the rigorous methods used to collect the data used in this manuscript.”

To learn more about the study and to read related news, click here.