The Importance of Interoperability in Dental EHRs

Electronic health records have come a long way in the last decade with 48% of physician practices having implemented a basic EHR system in 2013, up from a mere 11% in 2001 (According to the survey by NCHS, January 2014). The health IT market has expanded considerably with vendors offering customized solutions for various specializations, hassle-free hosted systems and low cost subscription-based billing plans.

Many of the early issues which plagued EDRs have been solved. However for every obstacle that is removed, a newer challenge appears to take its place. One such problem that is only now becoming apparent is the issue of interoperability. With the number of available EDRs increasing every day, it is imperative to ensure that there is a standardized and efficient method of sharing information among different healthcare providers.

Interoperability is not just another item to be checked off in the race to receive meaningful use incentives. Lack of industry standards for sharing health information can lead to serious consequences for both physicians and patients. Seamless and secure data sharing between systems can have a significant impact on:

  

1. Quality of healthcare

When a patient switches healthcare providers or is referred to a specialist by their primary care doctor, relevant data can be shared quickly and easily. Information can be sent in minutes electronically rather than having to wait for days to receive records by mail or through fax.

  

2. Patient safety

Interoperability allows health data to be safely shared with medical personnel in case of emergencies. Sometimes ER doctors need to know if a patient is taking certain medication before starting treatment for their current condition. Sharing such data electronically can save valuable time in a situation where physicians are already dealing with a great deal of stress.

  

3. Improve efficiency

Very few EDRs are actually able to talk to each other in a manner that can be understood by both. Even though they are capable of sharing data, the receiving software may not be able to interpret the data correctly or information that is labeled as notes in one system needs to be entered as a list item in another. Dentists and other employees have to spend a lot of time reconciling information before incorporating it into their records. Interoperability can greatly improve workflow efficiency since data sent from one system will always have the same meaning in another.

Dovetail EDR is MU certified which means it meets the interoperability standards as laid down by CMS. Dental records can easily be shared with other providers, reducing correspondence lag, prescription errors and potential adverse reactions.

  

  

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