From FierceHealthcare: Medicine is stuck with a 1980’s “Sneakernet”
There is a big push both from the private market and federal policymakers to improve interoperability and open up access to health data through smartphone apps and other digital tools.
But on the front lines of healthcare, the way patient information is shared remains largely a manual process done through a combination of faxes, emails, phone calls and paper records, according to a recent study on transitions of care.
Source: Patient handoffs to post-acute care providers still largely a manual process, hindering effective care coordination | FierceHealthcare
The linked article is all about medical records, nevertheless the same issues apply to dentistry.
There is virtually no interoperability in dentistry.
At this time none of the major providers of dental management software follow standards that allow for the exchange of patient data. Let’s suppose you have a complete digital patient record of every one of your patients. This includes their demographic info like name address and phone number. Insurance info. A complete up to date health history. Recent radiographs. Charting, diagnosis and treatment notes. One of your patients decides to move to the other side of the country. There is no way that you could transfer her complete digital record to her new dentist. Just as in the article above you would be stuck using “a combination of faxes, emails, phone calls and paper records.”
You could not transfer the data from Dentrix to Eaglesoft. You could not even transfer the data to another Dentrix user.
Ideally the electronic dental record should be a specialized subset of a universal electronic medical record. However electronic records in medicine have proven to be more difficult to deploy than was anticipated. In large part this is due to the much bigger stakeholders in medicine including the physicians, hospitals, government, insurers and others. In the meantime dentistry is held hostage to medical gridlock.
Henry Schein has talked a lot about interoperability. They are by far the biggest company in dentistry and having them pushing interoperability has to be a good thing. Nevertheless at this time there is very little actual ability to share data. At this point I would be happy just to be able to send my electronic record to another Dentrix user.