Electronic Health Records (EHRs)
Dentists and their employees may have heard rumors of federal mandates requiring dentists to adopt electronic health records (EHRs), or implement "paperless" offices by 2014.
Another rumor implies that dentists must be able to create and transmit digital radiographs (which are important EHR capabilities) by 2014.
There are no federal mandates or deadlines for dentists who do not submit claims to Medicare, or who do not see large numbers of Medicaid patients. Please read the "ARRA, HITECH, and EHRs Data Sheet" below very carefully.
While there is a significant and ongoing effort by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to encourage use of new healthcare information technology, particularly by Medicare and Medicaid providers, it is often misunderstood and misrepresented.
It's well known that dental EHR systems can be a major investment for paper-based or hybrid (paper and electronic) dental offices, requiring significant amounts of money, time, training, and adjustment to new ways of doing things in order to maximize return on investment.
To help avoid unnecessary, premature, and costly expenditures on dental EHR systems, the ADA has developed the "ARRA, HITECH, and EHRS Data Sheet" (below) for dentists and their employees to review. Members who think they may be eligible for either the Medicare or Medicaid incentives program can find out more about these programs at the ONC providers site, also linked below.
States may, or may not require the adoption of EHRs by healthcare providers. For example, the state of Minnesota has a legislative mandate for electronic health records in 2015 which may impact dentists. Other states may adopt similar legislation over time. Dentists interested in state laws requiring adoption of EHRs can contact their state dental associations for details.
EHR Standards Activities at the ADA
The ADA is engaged in a number of other standards development activities for dental EHR systems through its Standards Committee on Dental Informatics (SCDI). SCDI has completed work on a standard for Dental EHR functional requirements, Draft Standard No.1067 with significant input from industry stakeholders. A scope statement about this draft standard is available here, along with information about how to obtain a copy for review.
Additionally, SCDI recently completed a "White Paper" for electronic prescriptions standards (below), which is now available for review by any interested party. This white paper is purely informational in nature. Comments or questions may be directed to email@example.com.