Oral health clinical indicators

The performance of public oral health clinics in Queensland is improving thanks to a range of oral health clinical indicators.

The Office of the Chief Dental Officer developed the clinical indicators to help measure the outcomes of care provided to public oral health patients in Queensland. The indicators flag issues for further review to help dental practitioners and managers to continually improve the quality of care being delivered.

Currently the indicator reports being generated relate to returns following common dental procedures, such as fillings, extractions, root canal treatment, and fissure sealants. These are generated at a statewide level, Hospital and Health Service level, by clinic and by individual practicioners.

The indicators are based on the Oral Health (Version 3) Clinical Indicator User Manual published by the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards, and informed by data from Queensland’s statewide Information System for Oral Health. Indicator data is displayed in a variety of easy-to-interpret tables, graphs and funnel plots.

The Clinical Indicator Manual defines which item numbers are used, the inclusions and exclusions, and the follow-up periods for each indicator. Rates are based on the number of initial treatments during a six month period (the denominator) and the number of occurrences or returns within the follow up period (the numerator).

A range of comparisons can be made from the data: between health services, over time, between clinics and providers, and clinical groupings. While multiple factors can contribute to the findings, both positive and negative results may be viewed as opportunities for improvement.

Since the first clinical indicator report was released in January 2015, there has been a 19 per cent increase in the rate of timely completion of root canal treatment, as clinics were prompted to review local policy based on report findings.

The development of these reports has enabled Hospital and Health Boards to be better informed about the patient outcomes of oral health services, as well as how they compare to other services. The findings inform evidence-based quality improvement activities, and when generated over time; help determine if these activities are working.

Last updated: 7 December 2017