EHRs and Dental Coding

To take on and effectively use an EHR, dentists have to become renaissance men. Running a small practice requires marketing, accounting and other skills, but now it also demands knowledge of metadata management and data storage.

The ADA’s SNODENT’s terms for EHRs will assist in managing the data to meet the expected standard of care, but the need to compare apples to apples across medical and dental records will necessitate learning on both sides.  The metadata taxonomy will include three components: procedural, diagnostic and administrative. The nine new code sets expand the available codes for the entire electronic health record. Dental information will be part of the infrastructure of health information, putting dentists as key contributors and participants in data about health. As it should be!

As doctors prepare to transition from ICD9 to the many, many more codes available in ICD10, I see a similar change looming for dentists. SNODENT is the tip of the health record iceberg; interoperability of dental and medical information will demand changes from many perspectives. In addition, the new codes will change work practices at dental offices.

As the article states,

“We can expect a national strategy for managing and communicating patient information as the electronic health record initiative moves forward,” says ADA President Mark Feldman. Dr. Feldman also serves on the Electronic Health Record Workgroup.

Lessons Learned:

  • EDRs are part of EHRs, and dental information will be key to the overall vision of health for patients.
  • The overall health record will include dentist-specific knowledge.