Getting ready for EHR

June 1, 2011
Electronic medical records and electronic health records (EMR and EHR) are words dental professionals are not accustomed to using.

by Ann-Marie C. DePalma, RDH, MeD, FAADH
[email protected]

Electronic medical records and electronic health records (EMR and EHR) are words dental professionals are not accustomed to using. In 2014-2015, however, dentistry will be part of the proposed regulations governing EHR. How will your practice transition, what will be required, and what will not? Donna Sceviour, RDH, BS, has developed a program titled, "Transitioning to the Electronic Health Record: Are You Ready?" that discusses the step-by-step approaches that dental practices need to be familiar with to comply with the regulations.

Donna's EHR program is part of an interactive lecture series that she provides both nationally and internationally. She takes participants from the beginning following a step-by-step process to provide EHR within the dental practice. Topics covered in the series include:

  • Determining the proper order of technology integration
  • Examining the investment costs (return on investment)
  • Discussion of tax purchasing options
  • Discussion of realistic timeline application

Since the program involves a series of topics, Donna provides participants the ability to work with "real time" data. At the beginning of the series, each person receives an audience feedback remote that allows data input that is anonymous and valuable. All members of the dental team are invited to participate. The programs provide team members with the tools and knowledge that is needed to make fact-based decisions that directly affect patient care. The delivery of active data input from the audience allows participants to see in "real time" how peers are meeting the new governmental compliance standards.

The electronic health record will become a part of the hygienist's daily experience in practice. With knowledge that is obtained now, the integration and implementation of required processes will be more seamless. The goal of the program is to ensure dental teams have the recipe to succeed in the implementation process.

Donna began presenting programs after realizing that technology was an important component of everyday practice. As a graduate of the 1980s, technology was not an inherent activity for her, so she wished that there was a go-to source or mentor that she could discuss its intricacies with. She decided that she would become that mentor for others and allow them to feel the excitement that she has experienced when technology accomplishes its task for the patient and practice.

Donna provides participants with handouts both printed and online for easy access following the programs.

Donna is a graduate of the Forsyth School for Dental Hygienists (Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Allied Health) and Northeastern University. She has enjoyed an eclectic career in dental hygiene. She has practiced clinically, been an educator, has written for peer-reviewed journals, and has beta tested a number of products. Her most recent experience has been in the involvement of testing a toothbrush that uses silver nano technology.

She has also been a practice management consultant to teams/doctors who are in the process of change. Donna encompasses a team approach to her programs, finding it essential to invite both doctors and hygienists. She has found it to be vital that doctors understand the importance and value that hygienists can offer as active participants in technology transitions and decisions. One of her mentors, Dr. Charles D. Samaras, former director of practice management at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, was the first to share with Donna that doctors need to involve the entire team in any technology investment. His understanding of the importance of the hygienist in the dental practice and their ability to educate and grow a practice has shaped how she provides team practice management. Dr. Samaras instilled in Donna that in order for a practice to succeed, both the doctor and hygienist must commit to providing the gold standard of patient care while working in partnership with each other and in synergy.

The EMR and EHR are perched on the dental horizon. Their use brings greater opportunities for patient care, skill advancements, and integration of a level of efficiency that will benefit the team and patients. Lewis Carroll once said, "If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there." Donna's programs integrate her passion for education with a direction for compliance so that practices can grow to their highest level.

For more information on Donna and her programs, contact her at [email protected].

This month's highlighted course is "Diagnosing Early Interceptive Orthodontic Problems: Part 1." The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child have an orthodontic evaluation by the age of seven. Early diagnosis of mixed dentition within the general practice and referral to orthodontist as appropriate enables the practitioner to provide early interceptive treatment for crowding of permanent teeth, excessive overbite and overjet, space maintenance, skeletal discrepancies, or habit elimination. This course will introduce the participant to the normal growth and development of the dentition, list early treatment examination procedures and patient records needed, recognize factors and problems to address in early treatment examinations, describe fixed and removable appliances for space maintenance, and habit elimination in the mixed dentition. RDH magazine readers can receive 47% off the course tuition by using the code: RDHEV411.

Ann-Marie C. DePalma, RDH, MEd, FAADH, is a fellow of the American Academy of Dental Hygiene and a member of ADHA and other professional associations. Ann-Marie presents continuing-education programs for hygienists and dental team members and has written numerous articles on a variety of topics. She can be reached at [email protected].

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