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State policymakers are faced with making decisions about how to improve the health of their constituents and access to care while dealing with diminishing state budgets. Over the last decade the health care system has shifted to a focus on the “Triple Aim” to improve care, improve health, and reduce costs, with the greatest developments being in the area of quality measurement and improvement. Although dental care lags behind the innovations of the medical care system in addressing quality measurement to improve health outcomes, it is facing similar pressures and reforms.

Several factors are likely to place greater attention on quality measurement and health outcomes in the dental care delivery system. These include the use of evidence-based dentistry, new payment models that are aligned with improved quality and health outcomes, the use of information technology, and the training of a wider array of health care providers in oral health care.

Such innovations are essential to move the dental care system from “paying for volume” to “paying for value.” Many of these strategies are being tested in specific settings but have not been implemented on a broader scale. Policymakers can play a key role in promoting greater accountability in the health care system by taking advantage of opportunities in health care reform to expand these innovations and provide better care that focuses on the health outcomes of children and families.

This issue of Trend Notes provides an overview of current opportunities to address quality measurement and accountability in the dental care delivery system with the goal of improving health outcomes of children and families. These strategies are critical components of the changes being made in the broader health care system to improve care, improve health, and reduce costs.