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Digitalization in the public dental service - the mouth is part of the body, at least digitally.

On September 1, 2023, the county council decided that the counties would start a joint effort to clarify the further approach and direction of the medical record system for dental health. The "Start together phase" has now been delivered. On Thursday, April 18, the work was anchored in the county council with the associated support to start the "Shaping together phase".


Digitalization is the backbone of our societal structure. In an increasingly complex and interconnected world, county councils and municipalities are facing new and challenging realities.

According to Statistics Norway, more than 1.5 million Norwegians received services from the public dental health service in 2022, and the statutory prioritization indicates that these were largely particularly vulnerable population groups such as children, people in institutions and users of other municipal health and care services.

Digitalization of the public dental health service is necessary to meet both the demographic changes in the population and the expectations that citizens have of the health service. In addition, the public dental service must communicate and exchange data digitally, both internally within the county municipality, between county municipalities and with the rest of the health and care services.

The project follows the Digitalization Directorate's approach: start together, shape together, and deliver together.


The aim of the project is to improve the public dental health service's solutions for statutory documentation of its clinical activities, with a particular focus on digital interaction with other parts of the healthcare system. Improved analysis capacity and management of the service is also key.

Through better digital integration, the aim is a holistic approach to patient care where the patient is at the center and oral health is seen in the context of overall health.

The vision is to digitally incorporate oral health into the broader health perspective, and to improve collaboration, information sharing and analysis capacity in the dental health service. The public dental health service of the future will offer more efficient, safe and patient-focused services.

"This project is important for the county councils to be able to deliver effective, high-quality services at the right time, both preventively for the individual citizen and through patient treatment," says Bjørnar Hafell, county dentist in Trøndelag and chair of the steering group.

Phase 1 "Start together phase"

Phase 1 "Start together phase" is carried out in the period November 2023 to Easter 2024. This phase is about going from having a problem to an idea to start a collaboration between several companies or sectors. Novari IKS has participated in the core group, where Anne Mette Dørum has been the digitization advisor and led the legal work, and Gyri Stavdal has participated as legal advisor. The deliveries from Phase 1 have been approved by the steering group and the county council:

- Report start together phase with diagnosis, target image and legal scope

- Phase plan for Phase 2 Shaping the phase together

- Management summary

In addition, the project has delivered the following in the "Starting together" phase:

  • Input to the dental health committee
  • Application to the health technology scheme (awarded NOK 2.1 million)
  • Application to the stimulab scheme (decision not yet available)

At a meeting on 18 April, the county council expressed that the work has been very good, and that this is an important project for the counties that it is high time to start," says Bjørnar Hafell, while emphasizing that: "Now that phase 1 of the project has been completed, the documentation that has been prepared provides us with a good basis for initiating phase 2.

The mouth is part of the body, at least digitally. Collage made by Knut Lindland, Agder County Council
The mouth is part of the body, at least digitally. Collage made by Knut Lindland, Agder County Council


Phase 2 "Shaping together phase"

It is in Phase 2 "Shaping together" that the public dental health service will make the difficult choices related to, among other things, the monopoly situation for the supplier of the EPR solution used today, cooperation between the county authorities on standardization for registrations in the patient record, data sharing and further joint service management and development. This will be decided through deliveries from Phase 2.

In phase 2, the project will continue the good collaboration with KS, and start a collaboration with the Supplier Development Program with the aim of carrying out an innovative procurement.

Selected deliveries from phase 2 (the list is not complete):

  • User journeys
  • Concept selection
  • Profit realization plan
  • Supplier and market strategy
  • Sharing strategy
  • Budget proposal for 2025
  • Implementation strategy
  • Stakeholder analysis, anchoring and communication plan
  • Prototyping
  • Legal assessments
  • The deliverables are continuously reviewed by the steering group and anchored in line with the stakeholder analysis and the anchoring and communication plan.

Novari IKS will also play a key role in phase 2.


In the absence of digitization, the ability to interact between the public dental health service and other health and care services will be reduced over time. The reduced interaction and lack of digitization of the dental health service will lead to a less efficient service that is not run in a knowledge-based manner. The differences in service provision regionally and nationally will increase, and limited access to national shared solutions in the e-health area will also result in poorer service provision in other health services.

Digitalization of the public dental health service is essential to meet the challenges of the future. Through collaboration, innovation, and adequate funding, the project can realize its vision of the public dental service as an integrated and patient-focused service.

Novari IKS is proud to be a key contributor to a project that is very important for both the county authorities and the citizens.

Bjørnar Hafjell thanks all the dedicated people who have contributed to the work, and extends a special thanks to Novari for providing dedicated and competent resources - "I really look forward to further collaboration in the 'Shaping Together' phase," Hafell concludes.


Text: Anne Mette Dørum
Featured image: Diana Polekhina/Unsplash

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