The accountable care organization (ACO) provides an opportunity to strategically design a comprehensive health system in which oral health works within primary care. A dental hygienist/therapist within the ACO represents value-based health care in action. Background Inspired by health care reform efforts in Minnesota, a vision of an accountable care organization that integrates oral health into primary health care was developed. Dental hygienists and dental therapists can help accelerate the integration of oral health into primary care, particularly in light of the compelling evidence confirming the cost-effectiveness of care delivered by an allied workforce. Methods A dental insurance Chief Operating Officer and a dental hygiene educator used their unique perspectives and experience to describe the potential of an interdisciplinary team-based approach to individual and population health, including oral health, via an accountable care community. Conclusions The principles of the patient-centered medical home and the vision for accountable care communities present a paradigm shift from a curative system of care to a prevention-based system that encompasses the behavioral, social, nutritional, economic, and environmental factors that impact health and well-being. Oral health measures embedded in the spectrum of general health care have the potential to ensure a truly comprehensive healthcare system.
- Accountable care organization
- Dental care delivery
- Health care delivery
- Team-based care