Medicine, including oral & maxillofacial treatment, has a clear purpose. Patients should receive high quality care and the best possible outcomes.
This is one of the defining tenets of an initiative by The British Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (BOAMS). They launched a quality management study in mid 2018, which continues to take shape.
Outcomes are a vital part, although they recognise other elements which help to create success. Procedures should demonstrate clear health benefits, rather than just become routine, they should be cost effective in all sectors.
Our consultants are active BAOMS members, Mr Shakib is the current Honorary Editor. We will naturally follow the study’s progress, which draws in national data, although the principles apply to our own practice.
Good outcomes are about patients and their input should be central, from providing reviews, to careful appraisal of support during visits. There are also practical metrics which can be applied.
Effectiveness in less complex procedures can be quantified, such as third molar (wisdom tooth) removal. Is the procedure used when appropriate, do pain management and healing follow good paths.
More significant head and neck surgery can be closely monitored. Are there any complications, or an unexpected return to theatre, is restorative work, such as free tissue transfer, a permanent success.
Our sector and our practice may wish to extend the BAOMS national study, to include aesthetic outcome, an important factor which can be assessed. As with other metrics, fairly screened, rather than over interpreted.
For our Harley Street clinic, studying what works well tends not to be about identifying deficiency. The objective is continuous improvement and to build a culture based on best performance.
Noting Valuable Research
We learn from our internal research and will from the BAOMS study, although others across the globe can add to skills, or improve performance. With maxillofacial care now an established specialty, they are plentiful.
A 2019 study on significant maxillofacial trauma with wide soft tissue defects is interesting to us. Others add perspective on using imaging to evaluate complex head trauma, including 3D analysis via CBCT scanning. The type of scanner we have in house for pre surgical diagnosis.
Surgery For Facial Trauma is a notable part of our work, with accurate planning vital to successful patients outcomes.
Other research on imaging can be helpful, such as an ongoing study into virtual orthodontic surgical planning and another looking at the use of dental implants in aesthetic regions.
Improving the accuracy of surgery related to facial profile can help with many maxillofacial cases, not least where surgeons are assisting dental specialists. A specific study into rebuilding the jaw prior to implants also deserves note.
Specialist Dental Services are a key part of maxillofacial care, even though we are not dentists in a general sense.
The jaw is at the centre of our faces and an area where our practice is a leader. We should keep up with developments, such as analysing the benefits of the latest biomaterials, or pain relief.
Other research can be granular, such as establishing the best fixation points following fractures, or looking at rare cancers of the jaw. For an area of our body which is central to life, they deserve time.
Orthognathic Surgery Of The Jaw is another area of current research, repositioning the jaw for medical, or aesthetic reasons.
To consultant maxillofacial surgeons, these areas and more we see are interesting, also to specific patients. We should still mention the amount of research which goes into the way patients interact with our medical field.
A clinical trial for head and neck cancer patients proved valuable, looking at ways to improve the impact on their lives, alongside clinical outcomes. Communication plays a part and was the subject of separate research.
The doctor patient relationship is vital, yet a patient’s comprehension may not match the clinician’s vocabulary. This study looked at avoiding misunderstanding, or anxiety in oral and maxillofacial clinics.
Providing sound information emerges as important in a number of studies, alongside other common denominators, such as having a multidisciplinary team in house, or trained and motivated staff at all levels.
Our Maxillofacial Clinic home page is an easy route to seeing how we support these principles, through an ethos of constant progress.