Though the connection between oral health and overall health has been established for a long time, not many people know about it. Study after study shows this connection and evidence continues to grow on the importance of not only maintaining good oral health for your overall health, but also on the manifestation of disease via the mouth—as many as ninety percent of all diseases show early symptoms by manifesting first in the mouth.
Hypertension or high-blood pressure is one of the most prevalent and frequently undiagnosed conditions in the United States. Approximately one out of every three American adults has high blood pressure. Having this condition undiagnosed can lead to serious consequences such as heart attack, stroke, and even death. Oral health plays a role in not only the manifestation of this condition, but there is also an opportunity to decrease the number of those undiagnosed with this high-blood pressure, through a dental visit.
Dental providers who take blood pressure during a routine visit may help patients identify whether they are at risk and help refer them to their primary care provider. Since dental visits typically happen more frequently than a visit to medical primary care, it’s an open door to potentially help save a life.
Because of the opportunity that taking the simple step of doing a blood pressure reading presented, not only to provide patients with an improved experience, educate patients, but also again to potentially help save a life, Delta Dental of Colorado started the Hypertension Identification Program (HIP) in partnership with CU Health Plan (CUHP) in 2017. HIP provides training for participating provider offices on how to submit blood pressure readings and procedure codes to DDCO for a reimbursement. The program also provides blood pressure cuffs to the participating offices as part of the training.
Thanks to this initiative, we have been able to provide valuable information to participating patients. We received claim data for more than 1,200 patients, and through integrated data sharing, united medical and dental aspects of overall health based on American Heart Association guidelines for hypertension identification. In the first 12 months of this pilot program, we saved at least six lives through early detection in the dental office and referral for follow-up medical primary care.
We need your help to do more. The HIP program is continuing thanks to support from CUHP; and all members of CUHP, age 20 and older are eligible for this important service. The program will reimburse for a BP screening up to two times per year, per CUHP patient!
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