Re-architecting oral healthcare for the 21st century

Publication date: July 2018
Source:Journal of Dentistry, Volume 74, Supplement 1
Author(s): Vivek Shetty, John Yamamoto, Kenneth Yale
The convergent forces of rising costs, growing consumerism, expensive new treatments, sociodemographic shifts and increasing health disparities are exerting intense and unsustainable pressures on healthcare systems. As with the other health domains, these disruptive forces demand new approaches and delivery models for oral healthcare. Technological innovations and practices borrowed from the e-commerce and tech sectors could facilitate the move to a sustainable 21st century oral healthcare system, one that delivers high-quality, value-based care to wider groups of patients. The broad reach of mobile technologies and changing digital lifestyles provide unique opportunities for using remote monitoring and self-care tools to reinforce preventive oral hygiene behaviours. By leveraging big data analytics and insights gleaned from the use of sensor-enabled oral care devices, providers will be able to engage patients more effectively and deliver timely, personalized behavioural nudges to support optimal oral health. Dental insurers and payers will need to reinvent their business models to incentivize dental providers and patients who embrace the digital-dentistry paradigm. This could involve increasing reimbursements for mHealth-delivered preventive dental services and holding individuals accountable for behaviours that put them at higher risk for dental disease. While Dentistry 1.0 was defined largely by the treatment of established dental disease, Dentistry 2.0 portends a new era of patient-centric, technology-enabled, outcomes-driven, and prevention-focused oral healthcare delivery with significant individual, provider and societal benefits.