A dental workforce strategy to make Australian public dental services more efficient Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • BACKGROUND:Dental services can be provided by the oral health therapy (OHT) workforce and dentists. This study aims to quantify the potential cost-savings of increased utilisation of the OHT workforce in providing dental services for children under the Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS). The CDBS is an Australian federal government initiative to increase dental care access for children aged 2-17 years. METHODS:Dental services billed under the CDBS for the 2013-2014 financial year were used. Two OHT-to-dentist workforce mix ratios were tested: Model A National Workforce (1:4) and Model B Victorian Workforce (2:3). The 30% average salary difference between the two professions in the public sector was used to adjust the CDBS fee schedule for each type of service. The current 29% utilisation rate of the CDBS and the government target of 80% were modelled. RESULTS:The estimated cost-savings under the current CDBS utilisation rate was AUD 26.5M and AUD 61.7M, for Models A and B, respectively. For the government target CDBS utilisation rate, AUD 73.2M for Model A and AUD 170.2M for Model B could be saved. CONCLUSION:An increased utilisation of the OHT workforce to provide dental services under the CDBS would save costs on public dental service funding. The potential cost-savings can be reinvested in other dental initiatives such as outreach school-based dental check programmes or resource allocation to eliminate adult dental waiting lists in the public sector.

publication date

  • 2019