Quality indicators are foundational to quality improvement in health care. They aim to detect how well current systems are working, allow for comparisons between entities that promote shared learning, enable assessments of improvement over time, and improve transparency. To date, oral health care quality indicators for the MCH population have been spread across different programs and data sources and inconsistently reported. Lack of consistent and standardized measurement is a barrier to achieving systemwide improvements in care and outcomes.
This set of standardized indicators has been identified through expert consensus processes as being both feasible and meaningful for measuring and improving the quality of care in MCH programs. A combination of indicators is necessary to show how well MCH systems are providing access to care, delivering evidence-based care, and improving population health.
Incorporating indicators into state oral health quality measurement and surveillance plans for reporting over time will help states
The indicators are designed to be used as a set to provide a more complete picture of care than is possible when using indicators in isolation. It is important to recognize that each indicator provides a broad assessment about the extent to which access, use, process, and outcomes goals are being achieved. States seeking to improve on any indicator will need to evaluate the care domain addressed by the indicator in more depth to better understand the underlying factors contributing to current performance and identify improvement strategies.
The indicators are designed for use by state oral health programs in partnership with the state MCH program, the state department of health, and the state Medicaid agency. Implementation of these indicators will require involvement of epidemiologists and/or data analysts within these programs.