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Waikato DHB initiates a new dental notification system to help children and families

Marrisa Reed (L) and Abigail Winter (R) from Community Oral Health

Photo: Oral health therapist Marrisa Reed (left) and Titanium coordinator Abigail Winter. 

When families move district, children are at risk of “going missing” from the dental records system and therefore not getting needed dental care. So Abigail Winter and Diane Pevreal of the Waikato DHB Oral Health service had the idea of notifying other DHBs when children relocate from Waikato and into their area.

Abigail is the coordinator for the electronic dental records platform (Titanium) now used by Waikato DHB instead of paper records, and Diane is the DHB’s Community Oral Health service manager. The service provides free oral health care for 0 to 18 year olds in the Waikato. Titanium replaced all the paper-based patient dental records a year ago.

Abigail Winter explains there are over 70,000 patients enrolled on Waikato DHB’s Titanium system. But when families move, there is no automatic way of registering where they have gone to and notifying the district health board in their new location. “The more transient families are the hardest to find, but often are most at risk of having dental problems that really need attention,” she says.

In the first year of Titanium, 1200 patients were “deactivated” off the system almost all (90 percent) because they had left the district, although a few had changed to private dental care within the district or declined dental services.

Thanks to the Titanium team’s initiative, if a family does move out of the district there is now a proactive effort to find out where they have gone and ensure the local DHB is notified. This means they can get back into the free community dental health programme as quickly as possible rather than only when they pop up with an urgent problem.

Moving out of the Waikato DHB district? Call 0800 Talk Teeth (0800 825 583) and let us know. We will make sure you are still linked into the FREE 0-18 oral health programme available nationwide.

Oral health therapist Marrisa Reed developed a template that is emailed to the respective DHB contact notifying them of children that are now in their area, providing contact information and when the patient was last seen within Community Oral Health, Waikato DHB.

“Sometimes the first sign of a family moving is a child not turning up for an appointment at one of our community clinics,” Marrisa says, “but we also find out by matching school rolls and our records at the start of every school term.  If a child is no longer in our area, often the school will know from the family where they have moved to and we can match that to the local DHB.”

Marrisa says other DHBs have expressed their interest in what the team has developed. “The next step is encouraging reciprocation when children shift into the Waikato DHB’s area – and that’s starting to happen now, particularly from Auckland DHBs and Lakes DHB, which is great.”

Service manager Diane Pevreal is impressed by the work the team’s done and says Reed picked up a good idea and made it happen. “Sharing information like this really benefits the young people by keeping them in the free dental programme.”

The Oral Health administration office in Hamilton’s Gallagher Drive is where Abigail leads a small team of Titanium super-users (dental therapists and dental assistants) who complete Titanium ‘house-keeping and system maintenance’ each day.

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