Visions for Dental Informatics

The talk cited below, by Titus Schleyer, goes over the motivations for adopting EHRs to use dental data, particularly clinical data. It presents a vision for a future where dentists can get to the data presently buried in separate silos or difficult to extract at all. Dr. Schleyer focuses on the need to use data to improve patient care and track dental performance for self-improvement and quality analysis.

In particular, the Electronic Dental Record Information Model was constructed by looking across approximately 100 (de-identified) dental records. The structured entity-attribute table created contains fields classified through a hierarchical taxonomy with top-level categories including “obtain clinical history”  (largest number of fields), which has the largest sub-category of “comprehensive patient history.” “Patient dental examination” is the next largest sub-category under that top-level category. That includes, for instance, fields like “Over the Counter medication name.”

This kind of information model provides the basis for extraction and use of clinical dental data from an EHR. Furthermore, by defining and standardizing fields, health information exchange is possible between providers, even if they don’t use the same software. Within a single practice, evidence-based decision-making can include analysis of past procedures.


Lessons Learned:

  • In most systems, dental data is difficult to extract and analyze for patient care or understanding quality of procedures.
  • An Electronic Dental Record Information Model exists that can be the basis for comparing dental EHRs.
  • Understanding the possible data elements gives a starting point for data extraction and evidence based dental care.

Schleyer, Titus. (2012) Dental informatics: Time to join the revolution? University of Pittsburgh Center for Dental Informatics SDM, Jan 4th.