The electronic dental records (EDR) currently exist in a digital desert, isolated from the mainstream advances in the electronic medical record (EMR) management. Whereas it is common practice to provide access to EMR data for the purposes of building value-added diagnostic tools, EDR data is much less accessible. Likewise, EMR data are routinely organized in research data warehouses (RDW) and are made available for mechanistic, correlative, and pragmatic population research. Such usage of EDR data is clearly lagging. Most importantly, even when both EDR and EMR data are available for research, queries that encompass both medical and dental variables are hard. One of the most common obstacles is unmatched and mismatched patient records in the two systems. The patient identification numbers are commonly different in the two types of systems and the mappings between the two are not existent.
Access to medical record data in dental practice could enhance patient care and make it quicker, more efficient, safer, and therefore less costly.
NIDCR could partner with other ICs, such as NLM and NCATS, who routinely fund infrastructure based EMR research. This would allow for greater inclusion of the dental and oral health into such programs and pave the way for deeper integration of the record keeping systems.