Jeff Parker

Ashoka Fellow
United States
Fellow Since 2014
My work: the first non-profit model of dentistry to treat the millions of youth in the US who do not have dental care.


This profile was prepared when Jeff Parker was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2014.
The New Idea
Each year in the U.S., tens of millions of children, disproportionately low-income children, go without seeing a dentist. This lack of access to oral health care is a complex problem fueled by a number of factors, one of which is the relatively small number of dentists who participate in Medicaid.

Jeff Parker is developing the first viable non-profit model of dentistry that can provide quality care to the millions of American youth who participate in Medicaid. Whereas many in the dental field claim such an arrangement cannot work, Jeff’s Sarrell Dental model proves that Medicaid patients can indeed be treated equally and, if managed appropriately Medicaid reimbursements can sustainably cover the costs of a high-quality, full service dental practice. He does so by combining three reinforcing strategies: first, a robust community outreach strategy; second, a set of business practices and operations that maximize the chair utilization rate in each office and significantly reduces the cost of dental supplies; and third, a strong culture of care, with transparency and quality to ensure the best patient experience. A central innovation is the separation of business management from care delivery itself. Sarrell Dental now reaches 145,000 patient visits a year across 14 rural and low-income communities in Alabama. While resistance from the establishment has been strong, Jeff is confident that he is near a tipping point. They have now affiliated with the non-profit, Community Dental Care of Dallas, TX. Community Dental sees Dallas’ most vulnerable adults and children, providing for over 62,000 patient visits in 2013.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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