As the US population continues to expand, there will be a greater number of people who live with chronic diseases. With the shortage of primary healthcare providers (e.g., physicians and nurses), detection and management of these diseases poses a challenge for our current healthcare delivery system. The concept of Non-Physician Primary Care Providers* provides an alternative approach to meeting the needs of these at-risk populations. By practicing top-of-your-license, oral healthcare providers (OHCPs) are uniquely positioned to provide many primary care services including using questionnaires, visual examination, manual measurements and salivary diagnostics to screen patients for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, poor glycemic control, HPV, HIV, hypertension, dermatological lesions, various cancers, and biometric health, among other things.
This course explores primary care practices such as medical screening and tools for salivary diagnostics that can be implemented by OHCPs in the dental setting that have the potential to improve early detection and preventive interventions of many chronic diseases and conditions. The challenges to implementing these primary care services into the traditional practices of dentists and dental hygienists will also be discussed. The course concludes by inviting participants to take part in a poll that will seek to determine OHCPs' attitudes about implementing primary care services, their feeling of competency to perform these procedures, and the education and training necessary to be successful in this new practice paradigm.
Indeed, we are entering a new era in healthcare when medical-dental integration is evolving. The expectation is that OHCPs will become more involved in the early diagnosis, risk assessment and management of various medical conditions. Failure to embrace this change would forfeit one of the greatest opportunities we have ever had to define ourselves within the healing arts.
After completing this course, participants will be able to:
• Screen patients for undetected, or poorly managed chronic diseases and infectious diseases.
• Implement life style modification counselling to at risk patients.
• Overcome the challenges in implementing primary care services in dentistry.
• Identify attitudes about implementing this new practice paradigm and areas where more education and training is necessary to be successful in providing primary care services in the dental setting.
* The American Academy of Family Practitioners (AAFP) defines Non-Physician Primary Care Providers as "providers of health care other than physicians who render some primary care services. Such providers may include nurse practitioners, physician assistants and some other health care providers." AAFP website. Available at: https://www.aafp.org/about/policies/all/primary-care.html; accessed May 1, 2018.