Some of the most organized and efficient dental offices have placed paper on the list of endangered species by implementing an electronic health record (EHR) system to manage the practice. As the dental profession continues to be swept up in digital technology, it’s not difficult to see why EHRs are moving up the food chain of practice management. An infographic recently issued by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, states that use of EHR systems has increased from 18% in 2001 to 57% in 2011.
Amy Helwig, MD, an ONC medical officer, states that when an EHR is fully functional (i.e., when information can be electronically exchanged between providers), the benefits greatly surpass a paperrecord approach. Above all, EHRs improve the quality of patient care. They also boost practice efficiencies and cost savings, in part by automating previously time-consuming, paper-driven tasks. In addition, the ONC reports that two out of three patients would consider switching to a provider who offers access to medical or dental records through a secure Internet connection, and this capability encourages patients to become more involved in their own care.