Key Points

· Community dental practices provide “safety net” services to populations who would otherwise have limited access to care. The financial crisis of recent years has made it increasingly difficult for safetynet dental practices to serve people most in need while still balancing their books.

· The California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) and the California Pipeline Program (CPP) funded a demonstration project to test the effectiveness of practice-management consulting as a strategy for helping California’s community clinics survive and thrive. This model emphasizes customized technical assistance to enhance the business infrastructure behind the delivery of care.

· The evaluation of this demonstration revealed that most clinics made measurable improvements in increasing net revenue, reducing expenses, enhancing payer mix, and increasing patient visits.

· The experiences of participating clinics pointed to several factors that create an environment for success, including buy-in at the executive and clinic levels, a clear project champion, a culture that supports change, clear and compelling project goals, and the availability of internal resources. CHCF is now implementing a second phase of the project that builds on lessons learned from the demonstration.

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