HSDM Launches the Harvard Initiative on Integrating Oral Health and Medicine

February 1, 2015  - Following a very successful October 2014 leadership forum titled, “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is:  The Economic Imperative of Oral Health,” Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) has launched the Harvard Initiative on Integrating Oral Health and Medicine.  An outgrowth of the forum is the establishment of an inaugural Harvard Initiative leadership advisory board.  The Harvard Initiative on Integrating Oral Health and Medicine will convene academics and students in conjunction with the health care community to develop exciting and innovative ideas around the integration of oral health and medicine.  Activities undertaken by the Harvard Initiative will include, but not be limited to, research, policy statements, conferences and seminars.  For more information, please contact Jane Barrow, Assistant Dean of Global and Community Health via phone - (617) 432-4185 or via email - jane_barrow@hsdm.harvard.edu.          

The Harvard Initiative on Integrating Oral Health and Medicine has a new website, which is located here -- http://oralhealth.hsdm.harvard.edu/.

The leadership forum featured Dr. Louis Sullivan, former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services under President George H.W. Bush, Harvard University and CEOs and senior executives of major health care companies and insurers among the over 200 participants.  Dr. Sullivan shared historical perspectives on changes in oral health as society becomes more diverse and people are now living longer.  Dr. Sullivan stated, "Care must be delivered in new ways and in new places."

A study published in the December 11, 2014 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) by Dean Bruce Donoff (DMD67, MD73), Christine A. Riedy (lecturer, oral health policy and epidemiology, Harvard School of Dental Medicine) and John E. McDonough (DrPH96, MPA 90, professor, public health practice in the department of health policy and management, Harvard School of Public Health) talks about how the integration of oral health into medical coverage will reduce health care costs as well as improve the quality of life for many, especially for patients with chronic diseases.  As they argue, it is time to end “…medicine’s artificial and harmful separation between the mouth and the rest of the body.” 

The article may be assessed online via Harvard Medical School at http://hms.harvard.edu/news/mobilizing-better-oral-health-care.  Additional articles about HSDM's integration on oral health and medicine, may be found in the Harvard Dental Bulletin and Inside Dentistry.

One of the premier schools of dental medicine in the world, Harvard School of Dental Medicine (http://www.hsdm.harvard.edu) educates clinicians, educators, researchers, and leaders in the profession; boasts core strength in musculoskeletal-disease research; and offers students public health opportunities in local communities and across the globe. HSDM is the only school at Harvard that offers direct patient care, with the Harvard Dental Center welcoming more than 25,000 patients for over 57,000 dental visits every year. In a unique educational model, HSDM students study clinical medicine with Harvard medical students and then pursue additional years of intensive, interdisciplinary clinical science education at HSDM and affiliated sites. HSDM graduates make their marks in prevention, discovery, and practice as they work to improve the health and well-being of local and global populations.

Perspective:  Integrating Oral and General Health Care, Bruce Donoff, DMD, MD, John E. McDonough, DrPH, MPA, Christine A. Riedy, PhD, MPH, N Engl J Med 2014; 371:2247-2249.  Copyright © 2014 Massachusetts Medical Society.  Reprinted with permission from Massachusetts Medical Society.