Oct. 11, 2016
Amit Acharya, B.D.S., Ph.D., founding director of the Institute for Oral and Systemic Health (IOSH), Marshfield Clinic Research Institute (MCRI), has been named chief Dental Informatics officer (CDIO) for Family Health Center of Marshfield, Inc., and dental practice at the Marshfield Clinic Health System (MCHS).
Dr. Acharya, a tenured MCRI research scientist, is conducting original research aimed at developing, implementing and evaluating clinical information systems in biomedical and dental informatics and the oral-systemic relationship between periodontal and systemic disease like diabetes, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
In the past seven years he has played an active role in securing over $5 million in extramural funding to conduct independent research in oral health informatics, oral-systemic and dental-craniofacial research.
Dental services are integrated into MCHS through a decade-long partnership with FHC which provides care to low income, Medicaid and uninsured populations through 10 dental Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) sites and are staffed by 44 general dentists, two oral surgeons and 44 hygienists. Since 2002, FHC dental centers have cared for over 128,000 unique dental patients where about 90 percent also seeking medical care within MCHS.
"As we seek to achieve unprecedented rates of attendance in preventive dental service delivery to our target population, we will need to develop and employ informatics tools that currently do not exist. Establishing the CDIO role is critical to FHC's long-term success in influencing dental oral health seeking behavior, measuring and improving the quality of care delivered and better integration of dentistry with medicine for our target population that carries a disproportionate burden of oral disease," said Greg Nycz, FHC executive director.
"Dr. Acharya has been instrumental in helping FHC secure nearly $1.8 million of Electronic Health Record Meaningful Use incentive payments. With his continued assistance and expertise, FHC hopes to meet required future targets to maximize EHR MU payments through 2022."
The CDIO is responsible for developing a strategic road map and advising specific implementation groups of key informatics and information technology solutions and infrastructure at dental practices within MCHS to support patient care, research and educational activities. As CDIO, Dr. Acharya will serve on the dental leadership team and work closely with dental directors and dental administrators to help build key informatics and information technology infrastructure based on translational research and best practices to address the quadruple aim in dentistry - improve quality of patient care, reduce cost of care, improve patient experience and improve provider experience.
"I am excited about the new set of challenges this role brings and very much look forward to opportunities that will open up for MCHS within the medical-dental integration domain," said Dr. Acharya.
Some of his immediate focus as CDIO will be to establish the quality improvement platform for dental practices by supporting development, validation and implementation of specific dental eMeasures as well as developing data visualizations tools, dashboards, key clinical decision support systems and risk assessment tools within dental practices.
"Oral health is connected to overall health. As part of our holistic care delivery approach for individual patients and population we serve, MCHS is dedicated to caring for the 'whole patient.' We are leading the medical-dental integration space and establishing a CDIO role. Working closely with dental and medical leadership, this is the right approach and Amit is a great fit to serve in this capacity," said Dr. Narayana Murali, executive director, Marshfield Clinic.
Dr. Acharya will report to Nycz and Dr. Murali, while also working closely with Dr. Mark LePage, chief medical officer, Marshfield Clinic, Dr. John O'Brien, FHC dental director, and Terri Kleutsch, FHC dental administrator, on medical and dental integration initiatives.
Dr. Acharya has published scientific abstracts and manuscripts in over 100 national and international peer-reviewed journals and edited a book titled "Integration of Medical and Dental Care and Patient Data."
He has held leadership roles including secretary, chair-elect and chair of the American Dental Education Association's Dental Informatics Section; co-chair elect and co-chair, American Medical Informatics Association's Dental Informatics Work Group. He has served on national HIT expert panels coordinated by entities like Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and National Quality Forum.
He completed his bachelor of dental surgery degree from Bangalore University, India, and practiced clinical dentistry as a house surgeon and a dental officer for several years. He later completed a master's degree in computer science from Western Kentucky University; a doctorate in biomedical informatics from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey; and pursued a program in leadership strategies for information technology in health care from Harvard School of Public Health, Boston.