Health Information Exchange Between Medical and Dental EHRs Enhance Coordination of Care

Based on a study done by Jeffrey Hummel, MD, MPH and Beatrice K. Gandara, DDS, MSD, those patients with diabetes especially benefit from the sharing of data between medical and dental EHRs in a Health Information Exchange (HIE) model.

Diabetes is a serious disease that requires careful and continuous monitoring often throughout a patient’s lifetime. It is a disease that can adversely affect the way a person lives. A diabetic patient’s oral health conditions and in particular, periodontal disease offers crucial clues to that patient’s medical health. By reviewing important markers in a patient’s glycemic levels, a laboratory test, physicians and dentists can help guide the patient to improve how they manage issues with diabetes. EHRs play an important role in co-managing and coordinating care needed for patients with diabetes as well as patients with histories that are predisposed to becoming diabetic.

Jeffrey Hummel, MD, MPH and Beatrice K. Gandara, DDS, MSD offer suggestions for a conceptual model of EHR that would improve the way information is managed and exchanged for the benefit of patient’s with diabetes.

They note that there is clearly a lack of information exchange in coordinating care between medical health and dental health and that “shared management of patients with conditions requiring co-management between medicine and dentistry” is needed. Drs Hummel and Gandara examine two case studies to illustrate the need for EHRs in both the medical and dental settings with the eventual implementation of a formal health information exchange. In both cases, the overall health of the patient is better managed, monitored and improved by utilizing EHRs in standardizing workflow efficiencies.

Lessons Learned:

  • Health Information Exchange (HIE) between medical and dental EHRs improves patient coordination of care.
  • Data elements from both a medical and dental EHR can sometimes more effectively diagnose and treat certain conditions.
  • EHRs standardize workflow and increases patient safety and outcomes.
  • EHRs make it easier for medical and dental providers to be partners in health.

Hummel, J. and Gandara, Beatrice K. (2011). Health information exchange and care coordination of diabetic patients between medicine and dentistry. Diabetes Spectrum, 24, 4; 205-210