How EHRs are changing oral systemic health

Incorporating oral systemic health knowledge and practice is becoming more important when it comes to improved dental and medical patient care and outcomes. The growing use of “next generation” EHRs will support its adoption into practices and groups.

According to Dr. Lee Ostler, co-founder and immediate past president of the American Academy of Oral Systemic Health, the growing knowledge and research in this area covers a variety of medical factors that a dental provider needs to know about to be successful. Up to this point, there was an impression from the general dental community that oral systemic health was mostly about gum and heart disease. But there is more research and literature coming out that shows links with TMJ, TMD, metabolic pathway interferences, oral cancers and other heath-related diseases and conditions.

In addition to improved patient care, oral systemic health practices are being driven by the need to reduce healthcare costs across the board. Insurance companies and ACOs (accountable care organizations) are taking note that improved oral care has decreased healthcare costs for patients as well as hospital pre-admits. On the referral side it has been shown that there is potential for more referrals from the medical community when a dental provider is well versed in oral systemic health practices. Dr. Ostler points out that all the research and case studies thus far point towards the positive impact the coordination between dental and medical patient information, as well as the collaboration of providers across these disciplines. According to Dr. Ostler, “We recently had over 200 physicians and dentists attend a local medical/dental summit, which was supported by a large insurance company.”

Dr. Ostler is a proponent for dental and medical community collaboration beginning at the student level. He mentions the University of Washington and their push to implement classes where both dental and medical students are learning about the importance of working together to provide the best healthcare possible. By implementing this idea of interconnectivity at the beginning stages of a dentist or doctor’s education, these two communities can become more connected and patient health will be positively impacted.

Dr. Ostler has studied and experienced many patient cases where his dental practice has worked closely with physicians to provide answers to certain general health issues by inspecting oral health. I have personal experience with these “enlightened” dental students at the University of Washington, as I’ve been asked to give presentations for the dental school on the growing use and application of dental EHRs. In these lectures, I point out the growing standards for interoperability between medical and dental systems.

With the growing sophistication of EHR features and functionality being developed by some vendors we are seeing tools to support oral systemic health growth. Both dental and medical patient information can come together and be used for proper diagnosis and associated treatments and procedures.

The American Academy for Oral Systemic Health is a leader in broadcasting the importance of oral systemic health, overall patient health and the critical collaboration between dental and medical providers. The future of oral systemic health is bright and the research backs the importance of this relationship.

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