Electronic Records Catching on in Dentistry

In a survey of 729 dental practices in the US and Scandinavia, the results are clear: dentists are using electronic records. In particular, dentists who are part of research networks are likely to use Electronic Dental Records with the capability of exchanging clinical information.

Overall, 74% of solo dental practices had a computer chairside, and 79% of group practices. About 15% of US practices manage all patient information electronically. And what vendors are they using?

“The survey also found that four major EDR systems are used in 71% of U.S. practices that employ computers: Dentrix (Henry Schein), Eaglesoft (Patterson), SoftDent (Carestream), and PracticeWorks (Carestream).”

Paperless practices are becoming a reality in the US, and Scandinavia has demonstrated the feasibility–in Scandinavia, 100% of patient information was managed electronically!

In addition, in the US, health care providers are starting to recognize how electronic dental records can be integrated into medical records to provide overall clinical care (Kincade, 2013). In particular, periodontal disease and its systemic effects have shown a benefit from integrated care, supported by electronic information exchange. Many other conditions, including hypertension and diabetes, were also shown to be correlated. As the lead author of the research study said,

“Mary Regina Boland, the research staff officer in the department of biomedical informatics at Columbia, told DrBicuspid.com. ‘It highlights the importance of supporting interoperability among EHRs used across different disciplines so that we can better integrate such data to further research and clinical care, and it serves as a terrific case study showing the value of interdisciplinary collaboration in life science.'”

Dentists have key information for ongoing clinical care, and electronic record exchange can make that happen.

Lessons Learned:

  • Electronic dental records are demonstrably successful in the US and beyond, particularly for clinical information exchange.
  • Oral-systemic health links continue to grow more robust, and dentists are key information gatekeepers for care of patients.
  • Electronic dental records that interface with electronic health records could improve patient health.

Kincade, Kathy (2013)  Study: More U.S. dentists opt for electronic record-keeping. Dr. Bicuspid, Jan 11. Last Accessed 2/14/2013: http://www.drbicuspid.com/index.aspx?sec=sup&sub=pmt&pag=dis&ItemID=312398&wf=33

Kincade, Kathy (2013) How integrated EHRs can help guide clinical care, Feb 8. Last Accessed 2/14/2013: http://www.drbicuspid.com/index.aspx?sec=sup&sub=pmt&pag=dis&ItemID=312625