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New registry initiative can help advance dentistry’s clinical evidence base

Open Dental users first to get access to ADA’s Dental Experience and Research Exchange

September 13, 2021 Image of DERENew dentists seeking to improve oral health outcomes in their practices — and beyond — can have a new instrument in hand: the ADA’s Dental Experience and Research Exchange, or DERE, a new outcomes assessment, research, and reporting program intended to promote excellence in dental care.

And the first practice management system has already integrated with DERE — Open Dental. Additional practice management systems will be integrated in the future.

“Open Dental will be helping the dental profession advance its clinical evidence base,” said Randall Markarian, D.M.D., chair of the ADA Council on Dental Benefit Programs, in an interview with ADA News.

Practices using Open Dental version 19.3 or higher can enroll now at no cost. Dr. Michael J. Helgeson, Open Dental user and CEO of Minnesota-based Apple Tree Dental, said he participates because research is at the core of his practice’s mission.

“We were interested in joining DERE so our data, which represents a unique population, would be included in clinical research that could inform best practices and improve oral health,” Dr. Helgeson said. “Our organization wanted to make sure that our staff’s investment in record-keeping was informing the future of our practice rather than just as a means of history and accounting.”

Why the ADA Created a Dental Data Registry
Currently, the standardized aggregate data available in dentistry is not representative of all patients who receive dental care.

By establishing a national clinical data warehouse for oral health, DERE will be the first of its kind to:
• Create a more comprehensive source of data including clinical Information, health history and dental findings.
• Create a data source that is not limited to patients covered by a dental plan (i.e. claims data).
• Allow more real-time aggregation of data across the dental delivery system.
• Develop time-trends on treatment patterns and outcomes.

How Does DERE Work?
DERE has an easy-to-use, protected, cloud-based data repository that collects practice, provider, and patient data in a HIPAA-compliant manner directly from Open Dental (or additional systems in the future).

After your practice enrolls, DERE accesses, extracts and stores practice, provider, and patient data directly from your Open Dental software every two weeks.

The patient data is extracted and stored to the extent of a limited data set (LDS) in a HIPAA-compliant manner. This information excludes certain identifiers like names and addresses but may include identifiers such as treatment dates and zip codes. HIPAA permits an LDS to be used only for purposes of research, public health, and health care operations.

Once data is extracted by DERE, it is aggregated and analyzed to support your practice’s personalized dashboard.

How DERE Can Make a Difference in Your Practice
Once enrolled, your practice will have access to a personalized dashboard powered by your practice’s data.

You will be able to:
• Get an overall snapshot of your patient and practice data.
• Filter your practice’s data by Registered Provider and location.
• Generate, visualize and analyze reports on specific quality measures that can help you:
    - Understand your practice demographics based on age and medical conditions.
    - Assess continuity of care for patients of record in your practice.
    - Assess your practice’s performance on providing topical fluoride and sealants.
    - Assess advancing care rates for teeth treated in your practice.
    - Assess on-going care for people with diabetes and those with chronic periodontitis.
    - When sufficient data is available, benchmark your practice against aggregated data from other participating practices.

“Practices can also use DERE for business management purposes, to evaluate the effect of their protocols,” says Dr. Helgeson.

How DERE Can Make a Difference to the Profession and Population Health
The data collected within the registry will eventually be used to help advance the dental profession and the oral health of the public. Practices of all sizes, in all locations, are encouraged to join so data in the registry will be representative nationwide.

Over time, DERE will become a comprehensive source of data that will be used to help advance oral health research by the ADA and external organizations, contribute to the creation of clinical tools, develop time-trends on treatment patterns and outcomes, and more.

Learn more about DERE at ADA.org/DERE.