At a very basic level an EDR is simply a digital or electronic dental chart. That is, all the information or data that we used to create using paper is instead created in a digital format and stored as an electronic record. This includes charting, treatment planning, procedure notes, medical histories, lab slips, lab results, photos, x-rays, models, finances and a lot more. It is possible to create a completely digital or electronic version of these things right now with many of the leading dental Practice Management Systems (PMS) like Dentrix and Eaglesoft. However as good as these systems are they are not fulfilling the promise of EDR.
An ideal EDR (or EMR) collects all the relevant medical dental data about an individual, organizes it in a meaningful manner and, here is the kicker, it allows that data to be accessed anytime anywhere by anyone with a legitimate reason to use it.
Current PMS products may do a fine job of creating a digital dental chart but the chart data is confined to the specific dental office where the data is stored. It is difficult or impossible to transfer that data to another office, even if the other office is using the same PMS. It is difficult or impossible to import data into a PMS from an outside source.
This is am excerpt from my recent article in Medscape.