While primary care doctors arguably receive the most attention when it comes to adopting health IT, dentists are slowly emerging on the scene thanks to an oral health IT toolbox designed to aid them on the adoption front.
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of HHS, has released a toolbox that could provide much-needed insight for dentists who lack information on what’s needed to adopt new technologies — namely, electronic health record (EHR) systems and demonstrating meaningful use — and if they qualify for the Medicare and Medicaid incentive programs.
The toolbox includes a section on what oral health professionals should think about before implementing health IT. Privacy and security, cost, workflow and functionally were among considerations, and each consideration has in-depth examples and links as it pertains to regulations.
Meaningful use has a large presence in the toolbox, too, ranging from how dentists will demonstrate meaningful use to the criteria dentists might be exempt from reporting if they are not relevant to their profession. Despite a rather low amount of certified EHR systems for dentists, they must use them in accordance with the EHR final rule.
However, eligible providers (EPs) can choose to exclude reporting on objective measures if they do not apply, such as recording vital signs, which is not a commonplace practice among dentists. That can be a benefit for dentists because it will reduce the number of core measures to report on. That said, stages 2 and 3 meaningful use have been proposed, but not officially announced, so it is unknown if EPs will be able to bypass any measures in the future.
The toolbox also sheds light on additional challenges, such as a major lack of dental-specific diagnostic codes, the lack of communication between dental and medical physicians on real-time patient care, and dental care best practices.