Medical-Dental Integration (MDI)

Using Link Between Medicine and Dentistry to Improve Overall Health

There is an emerging body of evidence linking oral health with overall systemic health. We believe “the smile is connected to the body” and are dedicated to a group practice in which integrated care is the preferred model. We share information on the health status of our patients with our medical partners. We recognize that patients often see their dentist and hygienist more frequently than their physician. The Patient Support Tool (PST) was created as an innovative way to identify and close medical care gaps such as preventative screenings that target heart disease and cancers. Using the PST during dental visits to identify care gaps provides us the opportunity to extend primary care and improve the health of our patients.

What exactly is MDI?
Many claim they practice Medical Dental Integration when they really mean “coordination with, or referral to” outside physicians. Almost 90% of our Kaiser Permanente Dental patients also have medical coverage with Kaiser Permanente, which allows our dentists to be part of the extended care team, using the dental visit as another touchpoint in the health system for patients to get the care they need. Because Kaiser Permanente’s electronic health records are truly integrated, we’ve had many patients over the years who’ve had routine labs or imaging arranged by their dental office that resulted in a life-saving early medical diagnosis like head and neck cancer, breast cancer or diabetes.

The MDI model really shines when health gets complicated – like for patients with chronic medical conditions where it’s essential to have everyone on the healthcare team on the same page – and that includes the dental team.

Location, convenience matters
Because many of our dental offices are purposely co-located with Kaiser Permanente medical offices, patients can be escorted or guided directly to medical services. At many of Kaiser Permanente Dental-only locations, embedded LPNs directly assist members in the moment, ensuring preventive screens get scheduled or provide vaccinations, diabetic testing and monitoring, and more during the dental visit. Members who visit these dental offices are 25% more likely to close a care gap due to the convenience of having an available LPN.