A key public health principle is to provide the most good for the most people with the resources that are available. It follows that the efficient and effective use of available resources is crucial in safety net dental clinics, because most programs are insufficiently funded to provide adequate access for all persons who seek oral health care. Safety net dental clinics need to find a balance between their public health mission and healthy business practices, not letting either take precedence over the other, so as to not jeopardize their own sustainability.
In the 2001 publication, Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century, the Institute of Medicine defines these terms:
Efficient: Avoiding waste, including waste of equipment, supplies, ideas, and energy.
Effective: Providing services based on scientific knowledge to all who could benefit, and refraining from providing services to those not likely to benefit, avoiding underuse and misuse.
An efficient and effective safety net dental clinic has the following characteristics: