Flu Shots at the Dentist Hindered by Lack of Dental EHR Interfaces

Most insurance companies cheerfully cover flu shots as part of their preventative care, and insurance coverage extends into pharmacies in all fifty states. Pharmacists administer flu vaccines, in part, because their software is already interfaced with the insurance databases.

In Illinois, physicians’ societies are opposing a measure that would allow dentists the same ability to provide flu shots:

The medical society says the expansion would frustrate a part of the new national health care law called ‘medical homes,’ where a primary care doctor coordinates care and maintains complete patient records. Moreover, since medical insurance is separate from dental insurance, patients risk paying the entire out-of-pocket cost for a vaccination from a dentist, which for shingles can be as much as $250.

This argument implies that dental records are not part of “patient records,” or medical care.

These opposing doctors are just not getting the point of the medical home and sharing of patient records. The technology exists, so long as software vendors subscribe,  to share records electronically between  the PCP, as point person in the medical home with a patient’s dental providers, and vice versa.

Dentists need to advocate for integration of those records to maintain the importance of oral health for systemic and overall health. This lobbying is about more than flu shots; it brings up the need for dentists to be front and center in technology exchange, to respect their roles as healthcare providers. Electronic dental records that are capable of interfacing with pharmacies, primary care physicians and local hospitals need to become a priority.


Bushey, Claire. (2013) Doctors, dentists spar over flu shots. Chicago Healthcare Daily, March 14. Last Accessed March 14, 2013: http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20130314/NEWS03/130319878/doctors-dentists-spar-over-flu-shots