ADA Center for Informatics and Standards
What is Dental Informatics?
Dental Informatics is a specialization within Health Informatics, a multi-disciplinary field that seeks to improve health care through the application of Health Information Technology (HIT) and information science to health care delivery, health information management, health care administration, research, information gathering and synthesis, and knowledge sharing.
The field of Dental Informatics is concerned with the intersection of Health Informatics and Dentistry as a whole. This is a growing area of interest within the profession, both in academic circles and among practicing dentists; more and more dental schools and dental practices are implementing Electronic Health Records (EHR) systems and Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) are beginning a transformation in health care communications. The demands of federal and state programs to promote EHR adoption among certain health care providers are also beginning to affect dentists across the country. As a result of these changes, dentistry is engaging information technology to meet its clinical, administrative, research, and educational needs more than ever.
The Center for Informatics and Standards
The Center for Informatics and Standards (CIS) is a part of the ADA Practice Institute that provides subject matter expertise on dental informatics and the administration of the development of national and international dental standards development affecting all aspects of the dental practice and oral healthcare of the public.
Department of Dental Informatics: The Department of Dental Informatics (DI) in the CIS provides subject matter expertise for ADA policy development, educational outreach, publications, dental informatics standards development activities, and advocacy. The primary objective of dental informatics is to improve patient care and increase administrative efficiency through the use of information technology. DI assists with coordinating ADA comments on legislation and regulations related to dental informatics in order to protect the profession from the unnecessary application of standards that could adversely affect dental practice. It also advocates for adoption of standards that can benefit dentists and their patients.
Expertise encompasses topics such as:
Standards Administration: The ADA leads the development of standards for dental products and informatics, both nationally and internationally, through the department of Standards Administration in the CIS. These standards activities are conducted through the expertise of over 600 dedicated volunteers from the profession, industry, academia, and government with the goal of providing the profession and the public with safe, reliable, interoperable and quality products that have an impact on oral healthcare.
The ADA sponsors two national standards committees: the ADA Standards Committee on Dental Products and the ADA Standards Committee on Dental Informatics. Standards development occurs in working groups under each committee utilizing a voluntary consensus process accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The department manages the activities of over 80 working groups which are responsible for the development of approximately 150 standards and technical reports.
ANSI has designated the ADA as sponsor and Secretariat of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for the International Organization for Standardization Technical Committee 106 on Dentistry. The U.S. TAG reviews over 70 international dental standards annually and casts the U, S. vote on all international dental standards.
Other CIS Activities: The CIS serves as the primary resource to members and other stakeholders that have questions about HIPAA regulations, oversees the maintenance of the Systematized Nomenclature of Dentistry (SNODENT) and the ADA’s Dental Content Committee.
To carry out the ADA's commitment to fostering interoperability of dental data and devices, the CIS supports the development, adoption, and implementation of the DICOM (Digital Communications and Imaging in Medicine) standard in dentistry.
The Center develops standards for interoperability of electronic dental patient data in healthcare systems and participates in healthcare data standards development with Health Level 7 (HL7).
The Center supports the development of forensic odontology standards and participates in national forensics standards activities. The Center provides support for liaison activities with other standards organizations that impact dentistry, including the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI), and the American Society for Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).
American National Standards Institute Accredited Standards Committee X12 (ASC X12)
ASC X12, which creates and maintains electronic transaction standards for claims, notices of payment and remittance advice, claim status inquiries and responses, etc.
This organization defines the structure and content of electronic dental claims and other standard health care benefits communications exchanged by providers and payers. X12 standards utilize standard code sets like CDT, CPT, and ICD. The ADA's presence at these meetings helps ensure dentistry has a voice in shaping emerging standards for electronic dental claims and other electronic healthcare transactions.
Health Level 7 (HL7)
HL7 is an international healthcare technology interoperability standards organization.
HL7 develops and maintains data architecture and messaging standards used extensively in all health care settings. HL7 standards play a significant role in solving common interoperability problems and are vital to electronic health information exchange between authorized health care providers. Pursuant to a Statement of Understanding with HL7, the ANSI/ADA Standards Committee on Dental Informatics (SCDI) is instrumental in the development of HL7 dental standards. This gives the ADA a powerful voice in defining interoperability standards that will affect dentists' ability to share health information with other providers electronically. HL7 and ADA are working together to create electronic health record functional definitions for dentistry, standard electronic attachment content, and ensure the semantic interoperability that is vital for effective information sharing among dentists and other authorized health care providers.
The Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI)
The ADA is very active in WEDI’s leadership and participates at many of its conferences and events.
WEDI is a multi-stakeholder industry forum with an advisory role to the US Secretary of Health and Human Services. Through its many meetings, industry forums, and policy advisory group meetings, WEDI advises key federal regulators and policy makers regarding electronic transactions, use of standard code sets, privacy and security, health information technology, EHR adoption, and health information exchanges (HIEs). WEDI also creates many educational resources for use by industry stakeholders.
American Dental Association
Department of Dental Informatics
ADA business hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. US Central Time.