Increased dental care access for many of Washington State’s underserved communities may soon be available, thanks to a web-based program that pairs patients in need with dentists.
SwiftCare, an online scheduling service that connects dentists with patients regardless of their insurance coverage, is helping adults and children throughout the state get the care they need. Through SwiftCare, patients can find a dentist and book an appointment via their phone. This web-based connection service is free to patients and dentists.
Applying technology and new applications to expand dental care access makes sense for many, said Arcora Foundation senior director Kristen West. More people are using the Internet and cellphones to find information, and most adults are comfortable with texting. Nearly nine in 10 Americans are online, according to a Pew study. And, another Pew study found that 83% of adults own cellphones and 73% of them send and receive text messages.
SwiftCare has been able to match everybody who has responded with a dentist because we have an easier way of directly reaching out to providers. – Kristen West, WDSF
The testing of a service like SwiftCare comes at a time when many low-income adults are having difficulty accessing care. Less than one quarter of adults with Apple Health coverage, our state’s Medicaid program, saw a dentist in 2015, with limited access being a significant factor.
“Part of the reason why patients give up is they tire of making a lot of phone calls without successfully finding a dentist,” West said. “It’s time consuming and frustrating. During the two-month pilot, SwiftCare has been able to match everybody who has responded with a dentist because we have an easier way of directly reaching out to providers.”
More than 90 percent of SwiftCare inquiries have Apple Health coverage, some of whom have serious health issues or face other barriers to care, including transportation and language barriers, West said.
Since May, SwiftCare has helped nearly 60 adults get care. The program also has helped to provide interpreters and case management when needed. West said she anticipates the free referral service will help more people as SwiftCare moves from the testing phase to implementation in August.
Launched last month as a pilot to test the idea, SwiftCare aims to help individuals who are having a hard time finding a dentist. SwiftCare is sponsored by Arcora Foundation (WDSF), a non-profit dedicated to finding lasting solutions that promote improved oral and overall health. Arcora Foundation is funded by Delta Dental of Washington.
To learn more about SwiftCare, go to: getswiftcare.org.