Health hubs & poor oral health

CVS, the large chain of pharmacies and Minute Clinics in the US, is testing a new concept in managing chronic disease affordably and conveniently. It is integrating a number of services used in chronic disease management into “health hubs”. Here is a description:

” It’s a new kind of healthcare destination that blends the convenience of the pharmacy chain with the ease and familiarity of  a neighborhood community center. The Health Hub locations might look like a normal CVS Health, but 20% of the store now offers a broader range of healthcare services, like one-on-one nutritionist counseling and workout classes. There are new product categories, including fitness products and an expanded homeopathy category for sleep, anxiety, or memory improvement. In addition, it carries durable medical equipment (wheelchairs and monitors) and supplies for those suffering from conditions such as sleep apnea and diabetes.

Sounds like a subtle change in your local pharmacy, doesn’t it. But this experiment is trying to hit a major medical need — better management of the multitude of chronic diseases which are gobbling up the majority of healthcare resources. Nearly half of the adult population has one or more chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease, obesity, or certain forms of cancer.

Poor oral health is one of these chronic disorders, and is overlooked in the CVS experiment. Why?

First, because we are only just beginning to understand that poor oral health is a root cause of other chronic diseases such as diabetes and COPD. And there are other reasons too. A dental practice in the Hub would take up too much space, its services would cost too much, and the distinct sounds and smells of dentistry might conflict with the Hub’s shopping atmosphere.

In short, a dental pratice as we know it, is just not an option in the Hub. Time to consider a new model of oral healthcare which fits into this new experiment.