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Reimagining the Dental Team: Hygienists as key to reconnecting underserved patients with the dentist’s office

As a dental hygienist, I used to work in a clinic, helping treat dental disease and educate patients about their oral health. I enjoyed it, but I knew I was only seeing a fraction of the population. Where I work, in rural Oregon, many mothers, children, and pregnant women just don’t get to the dentist until they have developed serious dental problems that damage their overall health. Now, however, we don't wait for those patients to come to us—we go out and find them.

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Advancing Equity in Value-Based Care

The trend toward value-based care is accelerating, and is more urgent as the climbing costs of care threaten gains in health coverage. As the field is moving toward new ways of paying for value, attention to health care disparities is sorely lacking. Not for lack of need — since the publication of the Institute of Medicine’s Unequal Treatment report, we’ve seen evidence that progress in reducing disparities in care has painfully been slow, or in some cases nonexistent.

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