A safety net dental clinic must provide quality services to its target population to achieve its mission. A quality professional work force, working in an environment that requires and supports provision of quality care, is crucial. Quality administrative personnel, processes, and procedures are, in turn, needed to support the provision of quality clinical care. Quality must be the highest priority of a clinic’s dental director.
Selection and hiring of a quality work force is covered in Unit 4. This unit discusses how to develop a program to assess, maintain, and improve the quality of clinical services and administrative processes.
Note: Material presented in Section 4 may be more detailed and academic than is needed for many clinics, while it is probably inadequate in scope and detail to guide a clinic through an accreditation cycle. If you choose to seek accreditation, review the advantages and costs of accreditation discussed in Section 2, and obtain additional training from the accrediting body that you choose.
The forms and tools presented in this unit are meant to be used as examples and templates; they are not the only methods available. They should allow new clinics to begin quality assurance/quality improvement (QA/QI) activities without needing a QA/QI expert on staff. If the dental clinic is part of a larger health center or hospital, then a QA/QI program or department may already exist where you can seek guidance.
The Mobile-Portable Dental Manual, a companion to this manual written in 2007, presents a slightly different take on program evaluation in Chapter 5, “Measuring Effectiveness and Outcomes.”