Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Expanding Dental Care

HHS has announced a joint initiative to expand oral health services, education, and research in America. The joint effort will be lead by HRSA with support from the U.S Public Health Service Oral Health Coordinating Committee, and the HHS Office of Minority Health.

Other HHS agencies involved in developing a systems approach to create dental programs include ACF, CDC, CMS, and the Indian Health Service. These agencies are working to provide education, monitor oral diseases, develop innovative strategies to increase access to care, and developing a national surveillance system for American Indians/Alaskan Natives.

In addition, the NIH National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) is funding development of a web accessible clinical research dental network toolkit so that researchers will be able to standardize dental research and develop a national dental research consortium infrastructure.

Using the dental network toolkit will enable researchers to have a secure and uniform way to collect patient information and biological samples. The web-based resource will allow dental researchers to use standard but customizable forms to collect and compare clinical trial data across multisite studies. It will also enable the storage of medical and dental records as well as patient samples in a single web accessible data-encrypted platform.

Using the technical informatics expertise at the University of North Carolina’s CTSA and building on its established biomedical informatics infrastructure, developers of the dental network toolkit have been able to create the resource quickly and provide a way to support large complex studies.

Connecting researchers with patients who could not otherwise take part in a large study, the dental network toolkit will also serve as a clinical data management system to support dental clinical trials, patient registries, and longitudinal and observational studies, allowing researchers to easily store, analyze, and share clinical research data.