​​​Spotlight on Innovation: University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry

Might taking care of patients mean taking care to patients?

During the 2016 ADEA CCI Liaisons Summer Meeting in June, faculty from the University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry (Dugoni School) presented a new model of dental care developed at the school’s Pacific Center for Special Care. Called the Virtual Dental Home (VDH), the new model employs telehealth technologies and intraprofessional dental teams to deliver care to underserved populations in residential facilities, Head Start centers and elementary schools.

The Problem

According to Fixing Denti-Cal, a 2016 oversight report on California’s Medicaid dental program, “Denti-Cal consistently falls short in caring for one-third of the state’s 39 million residents and half of its children.” The report continues, “[M]illions of people encounter [difficulties] searching for dentists who accept new Denti-Cal patients or office hours that accommodate their work schedules. At least five counties have no Denti-Cal providers at all and many other counties have no providers who accept new Denti-Cal patients. The special needs and developmentally disabled population is especially hard hit and unable to find providers.” These access barriers translate into “excessive demand for emergency care and dental surgery.”

The Innovation

Just as it is no longer necessary to hop on an airplane to talk face-to-face with a colleague on the other side of the globe, dentists no longer need to be in the same room as their patients to deliver care. Portable equipment for taking digital radiographs, electronic health records and internet connections make it possible today to gather dental information in the field, store it electronically and then forward the records to dentists, who can assess their patients remotely. By working in collaboration with dental hygienists and dental assistants, dentists can also oversee the remote delivery of some preventive and therapeutic services.

Digital technologies are essential to this innovative model, but the VDH breaks ground in other ways as well. The model also builds on a change in the California Dental Practice Act that came about through the efforts of Dugoni School’s VDH pioneers. 

The challenge: Capturing the details of an association meeting for those actively involved in implementing innovation projects and distilling the essence of the event for a general membership audience. 

Our solution: We used photography and evocative language to convey the spirit of the event for a general membership publication. We supplemented onsite reporting with post-event interviews to craft a series of detailed, similarly structured stories for a second publication targeted at association change agents. 


Unusual Meeting Format Reflects ADEA CCI's Mission—Change and Innovation

Ten years after their inaugural meeting in the Big Easy, ADEA Commission on Change and Innovation in Dental Education (ADEA CCI) Liaisons returned to New Orleans this June. They brought with them an ambitious vision—to shift the priorities of dental education from teaching to learning, from silos to systems, from procedures to people and—as one attendee put it—from feeding to fishing. 

Over the course of the next two and a half days, 85 ADEA CCI Liaisons from 41 institutions shared ideas, gathered tools for change and took part in ADEA’s first “Learning How to Assess Innovation” poster competition. In total, 32 schools presented posters outlining ongoing or aspirational projects. In Round 1 of the three-phase competition, teams of Liaisons evaluated the posters for innovation (how the project departs from current practice), significance (its importance to the future of dental education), collaboration (what human and other resources will be employed), implementation (how the idea would be carried out) and plans for measuring project outcomes. The next morning, the 10 finalist teams that emerged from the initial round of judging used skits, song and the power of rhetoric to pitch their ideas to a panel of mock dental school deans. 

Client: American Dental Education Association

Coverage of the 10th annual meeting of the ADEA Commission on Change and Innovation in Dental Education