Private sector approaches to workforce enhancement

J Public Health Dent. 2010 Jun;70 Suppl 1:S24-31. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-7325.2010.00177.x.


Objectives: This paper addresses the private practice model of dental care delivery in the US. The great majority of dental care services are delivered through this model and thus changes in the model represent a means to substantially change the supply and availability of dental services. The two main forces that change how private practices function are broad economic factors, which alter the demand for dental care and innovations in practice structure and function which alter the supply and cost of services.

Methods: Economics has long recognized that although there are private market solutions for many issues, not all problems can be addressed through this model. The private practice of dentistry is a private market solution that works for a substantial share of the market. However, the private market may not work to resolve all issues associated with access and utilization. Solutions for some problems call for creative private - public arrangements - another form of innovation; and market-based solutions may not be feasible for each and every problem. This paper discusses these economic factors and innovation as they relate to the private practice of dentistry, with special emphasis on those elements that have increased the capacity of the dental practice to offer services to those with limited means to access fee-based care.

Results: Innovations are frequently described as new care delivery models or new workforce models. However, innovation can occur on an ongoing and regular basis as dental practices examine new ways to combine capital and human resources and to leverage the education and skill of the dentists to a greater number of patients. Innovation occurs within a market context as the current and projected economic returns reward the innovation. Innovation can also occur through private-public arrangements.

Conclusions: There are indications of available capacity within the existing delivery system to expand service delivery. The Michigan Medicaid Healthy Kids Dental program is discussed as one example of how dental services to Medicaid insured children were effectively expanded using the private practice model.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration
  • Delivery of Health Care / trends*
  • Dental Care for Children / organization & administration
  • Dental Care* / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Medicaid
  • Organizational Innovation
  • Practice Management, Dental / organization & administration*
  • Private Practice / organization & administration*
  • Public-Private Sector Partnerships / organization & administration*
  • United States
  • Workforce