Minnesota’s EHR Mandate for Dentists – A Trend?

Most EHR-specific legislation has not focused on dentists. However, the state of Minnesota has taken a big step towards requiring EHR use for all health practitioners, including dentists. Could this be shades of things to come for other states? For the past few years Minnesota has been at the forefront of the Health IT revolution. Could Minnesota be leading the way in the new healthcare model, at least so far as dentists are concerned?

The state-wide mandate specifies dentists as one of the providers who must have not just an EHR, but an interoperable EHR, by 2015. Dentists who must comply include general dentists, oral surgeons and orthodontists (MDH, 2013). EHRs must either be “ONC-certified” or “qualified”.

How does Minnesota define interoperability? The specific definition is about health information exchange, with ePrescribing being a key example. Electronic prescriptions require patient and medication information to be exchanged between providers and pharmacies. A key goal identified for the mandate is to improve transitions between providers to increase overall health. Another key goal is to allow patients to view, access and share their health data online.

One interesting aspect to this legislation is the focus not only on sharing, but on synchronizing data. This suggests information will not only be “pushed” to providers, but also synchronized for multiple care providers at a single entry. For instance, if a patient reported an adverse reaction to an antibiotic to a dentist, that information would be available to other care providers. Dentists who take blood pressure readings would be able to share that information with patients’ physicians, enabling preventative care.

Lessons Learned:

  • Minnesota dentists are required to have interoperable EHRs by 2015.
  • Interoperability requires health information exchange, for instance electronic prescribing.
  • The Minnesota mandate specifies that ONC-certified EHRs must be used.


Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) (2013) Guidance for Understanding the  Minnesota 2015 Interoperable EHR Mandate. Last Accessed 6/11/2013: http://www.health.state.mn.us/e-health/hitimp/2015mandateguidance.pdf