Step 4: Care Coordination & Referral Management

Care coordination is an approach that has proven beneficial in achieving better healthcare outcomes by deliberately coordinating patient care activities through communication with the parties involved.

Care coordination can effectively connect priority populations to the dental services they need.

Care Coordination

Dental care coordination complementing a school-linked dental program can assist families to:

  • Understand the reason for referral
  • Understand the need and urgency to seek care
  • Navigate the dental healthcare system
  • Address logistical issues and barriers to accessing care
  • Obtain insurance and/or understand their covered services under Medi-Cal
  • Ensure continuity of care and/or adapt to changes or specialty care referral if indicated
  • Learn about optimal oral health behaviors for their children

Referral Management Systems

Using an electronic referral management system will allow:

  • Care coordinators to send referrals directly to dental providers
  • Assistance with scheduling children’s dental appointments
  • Efficient communication with parents/guardians and dental providers
  • Tracking the success of referrals (i.e., what happens after a referral is given)
  • Data metrics to communicate findings to school administrators, stakeholders, and funding agencies
  • Development of quality improvement strategies

The California Department of Public Health, Office of Oral Health is procuring licenses for a dental referral management system that LOHPs can adopt for their programs. This will become available in the first half of 2024.