Lower Medical Claims Costs Linked to Payer's Dental Program
I recently spoke with Mary Lee Conicella, DMD, the chief dental officer at Aetna, about the DMI program, its place in the healthcare industry, and the program challenges.
Mary Lee Conicella, DMD
HLM: What's the relationship between periodontal disease and chronic disease?
Conicella: What has been concluded in the scientific literature is that there is an association between periodontal disease and several chronic conditions. The three conditions with the strongest evidence of associations are the three conditions in our program:
- Heart disease
For example, we know that the inflammation associated with periodontal disease can make it more difficult for a patient with diabetes to control her blood glucose. We have found that members in the program who have diabetes and have started going to the dentist have better control of their blood glucose in subsequent years.
HLM: How do you find potential DMI participants?
Conicella: All of our dental and medical member data is on the same platform. That provides us with the advantage of having all the data in the same place. Our system can easily identify members who have the medical conditions we include in the program. We use a fairly broad algorithm that includes many, many diagnoses codes for identifying those members.
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