It is important to understand that you cannot effectively make any changes without data to establish baselines, develop targets for improvement, and monitor the change. Dentistry has used operational metrics to run financially successful oral health programs for decades, but quality metrics are very new to the field. The Dental Quality Alliance has been developing quality metrics on the national level. While current quality metrics do not give us all the information required to truly measure quality in the ways we need to, they are critical tools we can use to better understand the quality of care our programs deliver.
Many operational metrics can also be used to measure the quality of care a program delivers. A good example of this is a metric that measures the percentage of patients returning for recall appointments. Having a healthy recall is good for your program’s finances and for the oral health of your patients.
It is ideal to have ongoing reports that can give you real-time data on a dashboard for you and your staff to review, but such report can be very costly for a health center to set up. Work with administration, and develop a long-term plan for growing your quality metrics.