Integrated Dental and Medical Records and Care for Pediatric Diabetes

The connection between oral healthcare and diabetes healthcare has become ever more prominent, and causal: oral health affects overall physical health. Since diabetes patients are especially prone to oral disease, and pediatric care has recognized the connection between children’s oral and systemic health, this particular area offers especial potential for ongoing, improved data relationships. In particular:

“As evidence builds regarding the strong relationship between oral disease (especially periodontal disease) and chronic systemic conditions, the focus should be on applying and implementing these new concepts to patient care. All patients, especially those at high risk for chronic conditions, deserve this level of integrated care.”

How can this model develop and be applied to benefit patients and health care providers? Shared electronic health records are necessary for appropriate data exchange, but are there other workflow and layout effects that can be developed? Grossi brings up one model of integrated care for pediatric patients with diabetes, focused on sharing space rather than sharing data:

“the first-of-its-kind Pediatric Healthy Weight Research and Treatment Center at the Department of Pediatrics, Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University in Greenville, NC. In this new model of integrated healthcare, children with certain conditions (eg, type 1 or type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular, endocrine, cancer, hematologic, and pulmonary) receive oral/dental care. Rather than traditionally referring patients for dental treatment, pediatric specialists work with dental professionals in the same clinic.”

Since not all patients, dentists and healthcare providers can access such integrated environments, the responsibility for ongoing data exchange and shared electronic health records will only grow. As dentists become key figures in systemic and preventative healthcare across providers, the need to create share-able, usable, well-defined data continues to explode.

Lessons Learned:

  • Diabetes patients are well-known to need extra oral care, and pediatric physicians have acknowledged the crucial role of dental professionals in long-term health of their patients.
  • A few settings provide integrated patient care where physicians and dentists are able to work together under the same roof.
  • Most patients, physicians and doctors need a more transportable and shared electronic environment, since the physical one is not available. Electronic health records can fill this gap.

Grossi, Sara (2009) Integrating Dental and Medical Care for Children and Adolescents with Obesity and Diabetes Mellitus. Compendium of continuing education in dentistry 30(6)