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Thursday, 18 July 2013 09:41

Can Dentists Hide from Electronic Health Records? Featured

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post 52My company has been planning to link its dental practice management software to an ONC certified Electronic Health Record (EHR) and we are about to kick off that project. 

It looks like this will be none too soon.  

Minnesota has mandated that all hospitals and health care providers (i.e. dentists) have an interoperable electronic health record by January, 2015.  

The guidance document for the mandate specifically calls out Dental Practices.  “Includes general practice; oral surgery; and orthodontics.”


This document makes four points about what an EHR must be able to do.  My dental interpretations are in italics below.

1. Provide clinical decision support;

In dentistry I envision a prescribing system that automatically checks a prescribed drug against patient allergies, drug/drug interactions and age/gender appropriateness and alerts the provider when something is contraindicated.

2. Support physician order entry;

Electronic prescribing integration, lab orders and results from tissue sample testing would be dental specific usage.

3. Capture and query information relevant to health care quality;

A robust reporting module associated with the patient’s medical and dental care.  

4. Exchange electronic health information with and integrate such information from other sources.

This is the interoperable portion of the mandate.  Examples include electronic prescribing, lab results, quality reporting and transfer and receipt of care and visit summaries.

Minnesota is often on the leading edge of this type of lawmaking.  They mandated that all prescribers use electronic prescribing by January, 2011.  Again, dental practices were expected to comply.

These legislative efforts have as their goal, the electronic linking of the diverse players involved with a patient’s health.  By being more informed of a patient’s overall health, the provider will contribute to the “triple aim” strategy of healthcare reform:

  • Better Care
  • Better Health
  • Lower Costs

Can you ignore this development if you don’t live in Minnesota?  Only at your own peril. 

We have many clients in Oregon where the state has chosen to deliver its Medicaid benefits through groups called CCO’s (Coordinated Care Organizations).  These newly formed networks of all types of healthcare providers are responsible for the coordination and delivery of care to this population.  This coordination will require collecting and communicating health information electronically.  Sounds like a job for an interoperable EHR.  CCO’s must include oral health providers by 7/1/2014 in Oregon.

Can you ignore Oregon’s efforts if you don’t see Oregon Medicaid patients?  Also, at your own peril.  Governor Kitzhaber recently claimed that the commercial sector will be next.  He has the ability to influence this for two of the largest employee groups in the state; state employees and public school employees.  He also will receive $1.9 billion from the federal government over the next five years to develop this model.  

There are efforts all over the U.S. to accomplish the triple aim strategy and most involve electronic health records and the secure sharing of this information between providers. 

Ignoring this movement or thinking it will not include dentistry is a definite wrong click


Read 19565 times Last modified on Thursday, 18 July 2013 10:13
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