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ADA to Conduct National Survey on EDR, EHR Interoperability

The survey will gather dental providers’ perspectives on EDR and EHR interoperability to inform advocacy efforts.

The American Dental Association (ADA) is conducting a nationwide survey of dental offices to understand the use of EHR and electronic dental records (EDR) systems and associated interoperability issues, such as the ability to transfer data between platforms.

The survey, "Provider Perspectives on Health Information Technology in the Dental Office," will give the ADA information to aid in developing policies and advocacy efforts to advance the impact of health IT on dental practices.

"It's critically important that we understand from practicing dentists how dental practice management software and electronic dental records impact [their] business operations and clinical care in their practices and how the ADA can best advocate for dentistry," Michael Saba, DMD, chair of the digital dentistry, technology, and innovation subcommittee of the ADA Council on Dental Practice.

Providers who receive the link to participate and decide to participate will share critical information as the ADA works with federal regulators and promotes policies that support dental practices.

ADA will keep responses confidential and publish results in aggregate form. ADA will present preliminary results to the ADA Council on Dental Practice in May.

While research has found significant links between oral health and overall health in recent decades, EHR data and electronic dental records (EDRs) remain largely siloed across the country. However, some healthcare organizations are looking to enhance interoperability of EHR and EDR data.

Earlier this year, UCSF Health and UCSF Dentistry became the first academic health system in the Western half of the US to merge medical and oral health records into a single EHR system.

Integrating the records is set to streamline care coordination by providing UCSF dentists access to complete patient health histories, including medications, at the point of care.

"Integrating medical and dental records allows access to the patient's whole health history, which improves the diagnosis and treatment of patients and can improve the communication between medical specialties," Michael Reddy, DMD, DMSc, dean of the UCSF School of Dentistry and associate vice chancellor of Oral Health Affairs at UCSF, told EHRIntelligence in a February 2023 interview.

Integrating medical and dental records at UCSF will allow dental providers access to patient health records instantly at the point of care. Similarly, healthcare providers will have access to patient dental records. Reddy also noted that the integration will help providers better monitor chronic diseases and prevent gaps in care.

"For years, some of us have gotten lots of money from NIH to research oral health association with other aspects of health," Reddy said. "Now it's time to take it out of the clinical trial and move on to patients who will start to benefit."

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