Electronic health record systems have made their way into nearly every field of medicine and healthcare.   From cardiology and allergy to chiropractic and dentistry, EHR development is becoming a critical component to effective healthcare operations.

The American Dental Association has been perfecting an electronic health and medical records software system model for years that will supply dental offices with the streamlined efficiency that doctors receive from this type of system.  Ongoing chatter among the dental community indicates that by the year 2014, the ADA may require that all health records be electronic.  This buzz has the dental community scrambling to comply and gain insight into the electronic health record process.

Eligibility – Implementation of the EHR

Who is eligible to implement an electronic health records system?  All licensed dentists would be eligible to implement the EHR system as a primary and standalone way of dealing with medical and dental records.  The rumor mill suggests that not only would there be eligibility, but a requirement among all licensed and practicing dentists.  What the ADA buzz suggests is that there would be no alternative to the implementation of a fully integrated electronic health records system.

Benefits Seen through EHR Implementation

Aside from the traditional benefits seen in any medical office from the implementation of an EHR system, there are niche specific ideals in dentistry that can only be brought about through an electronic software offering.  Specific features can streamline the way patient care is handled, giving rise to more effective practicing by the dentist.

Some of the most effective features seen through EHR implementation include:

•    Dental office letters – specific letters sent out at particular times throughout a patient’s care process may include patient reminders, follow-up treatments or insurance updates.
•    Fluoride specific templates – these features may be specifically designed for fluoride treatments and updates as related to pediatric patients or adults.
•    Dental product and equipment integration – step-by-step procedures may be indicated in the system of a flowchart or workflow process.

A variety of other features may be implemented in the dentistry specific template or program.  Some of the other most common features may include anesthesia, hygiene and cleaning billing and periodontal charting.

EHR templates can be highly specific in dentistry, depending on the services offered in the clinic.  These templates may include bridges, dental bonding, gum lifts, implants, oral cancer, root canals or veneers. Some of the most common displays of features include fillings, dentures, gum surgery and wisdom teeth extraction.

Most EHR system software programs can be modified and created to best suit the office that is incorporating full integration.  Specific features can be modified or changed in an effort to create the best suited program for the office needs.  Workflow structures can be changed and specific details added so that the office gains the best results through using an electronic medical records program.

Keeping abreast of the constant changes in dentistry EHR and the proposed guidelines and enforcements by the ADA will prove to be beneficial in the long run, as dentists may find themselves scrambling to catch up in this dynamic field of growth.