Dr. Robert Sutherland

In my previous column, I talked about the connections that exist within our profession. These connections are based on a foundation of shared values and the pursuit of a common vision that, in conjunction with our academic and regulatory colleagues, allows us to practise one of the highest levels of oral health care in the world.

It is through these connections that CDA makes its essential contributions to creating an environment conducive for the practise of dentistry. These contributions occur in a number of areas such as: developing and maintaining national programs and services; advocating on behalf of the profession with the federal government and other groups; and facilitating solutions to issues facing the profession by providing a forum for national consultation.

First, CDA manages or provides support for a number of programs that we are often unaware of or take for granted. Yet without these programs we would be unable to practise dentistry in the manner in which we are accustomed. One such program area is maintaining the Uniform System of Coding and List of Services (USC&LS), which allows dentists to record services and prepare and transmit claim forms to third-party carriers in a consistent manner. This latter function is also supported by CDA through its management of the CDAnet service that transfers claims electronically, and the ITRANS™ Claim Service—a service offered to our member provincial dental associations.

Another area where CDA makes a significant contribution is advocacy. On top of ongoing advocacy efforts with the federal government, CDA meets regularly with other groups on behalf of the profession. With respect to dental benefits, CDA meets with representatives of the dental insurance industry, such as the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association, to discuss common concerns regarding dental benefit plans and claims processing. CDA also reaches out to other dental and medical groups to share information and learn from each other. Most recently, CDA joined with 7 other health organizations to speak out against proposed cuts to the Interim Federal Health Plan (IFHP) for refugees in Canada.

CDA operates effectively as a facilitator in addressing national issues facing the profession. The reality is that many dental issues cross provincial borders and solutions to these challenges require national collaboration and a sharing of ideas and resources. Issues currently prominent on CDA's agenda include addressing the public perception of the profession, improving access to care and providing members with practical chairside clinical information through JCDA-OASIS, a new clinical decision support service.

In addition, CDA serves as a national networking group by organizing meetings and forums where the exchange of information and ideas can occur. This was on display recently when CDA offered its administrative services to help Canadian dental student associations come together in Ottawa to create a new federation.

Through these areas, and many others, CDA contributes to the creation of a successful practice environment. The issues facing our profession are challenging and we need strong provincial and national associations, capable of working together, to ensure our survival as a primary contact knowledge and health-based profession. CDA will continue to serve as a connecting organization to help the profession achieve these goals.