Getting ready for EHRs

The dental practice of 2014 is one of many changing facets.

BY ANN-MARIE C. DEPALMA, RDH, MEd, FADIA, FAADH

The dental practice of 2014 is one of many changing facets. Whether we are implementing new clinical procedures and products or discussing the changes that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may bring to dentistry, our practices are constantly evolving.

One part of the evolution involves technology. How will technology affect your practice and you as a dental hygienist? Kelly Tanner Williams, RDH, MS, CDA, has created a program called "Electronic Health Records: Are You Ready?" to answer a part of this question. As a result of the ACA, all medical records will be required to convert to an electronic health record (EHR) by 2015.

What implication does this have for dentistry? Dental practices that provide Medicaid services are included in this mandate. But what should non-Medicaid offices be doing? Kelly's course discusses how to integrate EHRs into a practice, ensuring that the practice is compliant with federal regulations and how to develop risk management policies related to EHRs. Her program is helpful for practices that have existing EHR systems, and those who are in the planning phases of implementation.

During the EHR program, Kelly's goals are for participants to:

• Develop business principles within dental practice that promote legal and ethical integrity as related to electronic health records

• Discuss the infrastructure needs of a dental practice to be EHR ready

• Examine issues of patient privacy, confidentiality, security, and data integrity

• Review federal legal developments that affect the use of EHRs

• Apply concepts that assist the team with informed consent, staff training, and vendor selection

• Develop risk management policies for the practice

The program provides an overview of the changes occurring within the EHR process. It also discusses how EHRs have the ability to communicate across disciplines. Dental hygiene is moving in a direction where the dental team will work with other health team members in exchanging information related to patient care and treatment outcomes.

As a profession, the more information we're aware of, the better we can advocate for our patients. Kelly presents the program in PowerPoint, multimedia, and lecture, with a handout that includes major talking points and contact information for vendors.

She stresses that she's not associated with any vendor and does not receive compensation from any of the companies and products that she discusses. This enables her to present an objective opinion of each of the products discussed. She is an extremely interactive and energetic speaker who loves to get the audience involved in the discussions.

Kelly also teaches an asynchronous online course at Old Dominion University on tele-health care, where students learn the possibilities involved in tele-health outreach. One component of tele-health is the ability to securely transmit information that meets or exceeds industry security standards, and how and to whom this information is shared. While teaching this program, Kelly wanted to learn more about dental systems and how dental systems are able to interact with other health information exchange systems.

She is a graduate of Old Dominion University with a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in dental hygiene.

She is currently pursuing a PhD in organizational leadership at Regent University. Kelly has experienced many aspects of dental hygiene, from practicing as a clinical hygienist, to owning a dental consulting and recruiting company, to being an educator.

Serving the profession in these various capacities has taught her to reach beyond her comfort zone to improve herself.

Like many educators, she began teaching in the classroom, became president of the Virginia Dental Hygienists' Association, and served as a delegate to the ADHA. Through this professional progression, she began speaking to larger groups and gained confidence through the leadership development opportunities.

Other programs she has presented include career preparation for the novice professional and how to use social marketing when job searching.

She loves to share information to empower others to learn and grow with their newfound knowledge.

Her primary passion is assisting others to be their best selves. Kelly feels that as professionals it is our duty to continually learn and push ourselves to the next level. She desires to propel the dental hygiene profession to be its best "self" by educating, mentoring, and assisting those around her in any way she can.

Kelly loves dental hygiene, doesn't see herself doing anything else, and describes herself as visionary, humble, and passionate. She is an ADHA member currently serving as chair of the public relations council, and is greatly concerned about membership. Membership allows the organization to work toward advances in the profession, such as advocating for dental hygienists to be primary care providers.

Like many other hygienists, Kelly pursued dental hygiene because she wanted to help the public and improve overall health. She feels that dental hygiene is a respected profession, and she envisions a future with broad outreach and limitless opportunities. Dental hygienists bring added value to a variety of employment opportunities because of systems-based thinking.

Kelly feels her greatest accomplishment is improving and advancing the profession through advocacy, and building professional relationships with internal and external stakeholder groups. Kelly's guiding principles are to always assist others in accomplishing their goals while remaining open to learning about varying vantage points. She has always followed her interests, and has held many roles both inside and outside of the profession in order to propel the profession forward.

Her current full-time employment as assistant professor in dental hygiene at Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton, Va., has provided a platform to reach others about dental hygiene.

About a year ago, the college president appointed Kelly to lead the college's reaffirmation process for accreditation for the next two years. She works in the Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness, coordinating all aspects of the reaffirmation and compliance certification process.

As dentistry and dental hygiene move into the digital age, Kelly brings enlightenment to EHRs for all dental professionals. Are you ready to take your practice to that next level of technology?

For more information on Kelly and her programs, contact her at kellytannerwilliams@gmail.com.


Contributing Factors to the Oral Effects of Schizophrenia

Oral health is linked to overall health and is a window to a person's general state of well-being. Recent research has demonstrated that many systemic disorders present with oral manifestations and that poor oral health may be a sign of underlying systemic diseases.

Oral health also has a social impact as it affects social life and interactions, ability to pronounce words, ability to eat, and feelings of self-confidence. Poor oral health may also affect one's career.

This course will focus on the oral health concerns of those who suffer from psychiatric disorders, specifically schizophrenia.

Code: ANOCT14 good for 50% off through Nov. 15, 2014. Regular price $49; $24.50 after discount.


ANN-MARIE C. DEPALMA, RDH, MEd, FADIA, FAADH, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dental Hygiene and the Association of Dental Implant Auxiliaries, as well as a continuous member of ADHA. She presents continuing education programs for dental team members on a variety of topics. Ann-Marie is collaborating with several authors on various books for dental hygiene and can be reached at amrdh@aol.com.

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