Collaboration Improves Treatment
Collaboration between Dental and medical providers improves patient care for the elderly. The elderly often suffer with complex medical issues that are magnified by dental conditions. Recent research suggests that coordination between dentists and physicians helps improve patient care and produces better outcomes.
A collaborative model that involves community based physicians and dentists have increased access to care, improve health outcomes, and reduce disease and the cost of care associated with those living with chronic disease.
Collaborative models have been developed to look at a range of chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, heart failure and substance abuse. In these programs it was clear that the interdisciplinary approach improved care and outcomes.
Groups such as the American College of Physicians and the American Osteopathic Association have developed a vision of the patient-centered medical home. Physicians and or dentists would head the team of health care providers and would collectively take responsibility for the delivery of care that addresses medical as well as dental needs.
Creating a culture of collaboration between different health care providers and the patients family or social support systems will help ensure better patient centered care and better outcomes. Oral health care providers need to expend their knowledge base and forge new and stronger relationships with other physician specialists in order to meet the needs of the growing geriatric population, both in the community and in group living situations. They need to convince primary care physicians that they should be part of the team when dealing with the elderly who exhibit chronic medical issues.