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H H S Department of Health and Human Services
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Health Information Technology

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Are there examples of Health IT currently being used in the area of pediatric oral health?

Health IT is utilized across the country in a variety of settings. As mentioned in the previous section, the Indian Health Service and the Department of Veterans Affairs have robust EHR systems that contain oral health modules.

There are also specific examples of the application of health IT to oral health and pediatric oral health, many of which focus on the use of electronic dental health records. One such program run by the Forsyth Institute exit disclaimer delivers preventative oral health care to children at school, while documenting important health information electronic dental record that will follow the children over time. 

Based on the notion that oral health is a key component of total health, the pediatricians and other primary care providers can also incorporate oral health information into their own EHRs.  This concept is supported by the Defense Health Information Management System, which applies this through its Integrated Medical and Dental Electronic Health Record (EHR). 

Some health IT tools, though not created specifically for oral health, are also used in the area of pediatric oral health care.  Telehealth is one of these tools that can be used for certain oral health purposes.  School-based telehealth services are particularly relevant to children and families, as it can reach a large number of children and reduce unnecessary time lost at work for caretakers, among other potential benefits.  One example of school based telehealth used for oral health care is the teledentistry program in Tulare County, California, which “used video conferencing to bring the presence of the dentist to the project to supervise an on-site dental hygienist and conduct oral health exams,” according to The Children’s Partnership exit disclaimer. The Children’s Partnership also highlights the role electronic information exchange can play in children’s overall and oral health, particularly those children in foster care. Their 2010 Roadmap to Improved Outcomes exit disclaimer discusses action steps and overall strategies for improving children’s health in California with the help of electronic information exchange.

The Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin has developed its own EHR system that incorporates its patients' medical and dental health information.  The clinic integrated their CattailsMD and CattailsDental EHR systems, and CattailsDental is available in all of its dental clinics.  After implementation in its own clinic, the Marshfield Clinic is now able to offer the Cattails software to other clinics. Cattails Dental was based upon the open source system, Open Dental, and includes, according to Dental Informatics exit disclaimer:

  • A dental dashboard
  • Workflow management tools including tooth charting
  • Periodontal charting and treatment planning
  • Access to centralized medications, allergies, special conditions, problems list, demographics and HIPAA forms
  • Access to medical appointments to support better coordination of care
  • Highly secure remote access supporting alternate devices (laptops and tablets).
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