ADA helps develop guides for sharing patient information between dental, medical providers

The American Dental Association has helped develop two recently published guides that will improve the sharing of patient health information between dental and medical providers.

The ADA worked in partnership with Health Level Seven International, an American National Standards Institute-accredited organization that provides standards related to global health data interoperability, as well as other stakeholders. The ADA has formally partnered with HL7 for many years, developing the dental content of standards while HL7 provides the technical elements.

"The establishment of these new implementation guides for communications between medical and dental electronic health record systems is not only a significant accomplishment, but also an opportunity and truly an invitation to the vendor community of these systems. Guides to help standardize patient record data transfers for medical to dental, dental to medical, or even dental to dental health records did not exist before," said William Báez, D.D.S., chair of the ADA Standards Committee on Dental Informatics Working Group 11.9. "The ADA and HL7 working group volunteers have been working at this for two years, including participation from vendors, academia, government and civilian practitioners. The release of the HL7 implementation guides continues the conversation to standardize how health record systems share dental data. I hope the vendor community, the owners of dental and medical EHRs, view the guides as an invitation to optimize the communication of encounter information across these platforms. We need their energy and feedback to continue the conversation and improve dental data sharing to further improve patient care and modernize health record communications."

Dr. Báez also serves as a colonel in the U.S. Air Force as chief of the informatics branch of the Air Force Medical Readiness Agency.

Currently, there is no standard for the exchange of patients' dental health information between dental providers or between dental and medical providers. While some electronic health record systems have implemented the HL7 consolidated clinical data architecture for data exchange, these implementations are primarily for medical care and do not include data elements necessary for use by dental providers. The consolidated clinical data architecture is an HL7 standard that defines the structure of certain medical records.

ANSI/ADA Standard No. 1084: Reference Core Data Set for Communication Among Dental and Other Health Information Systems provides the foundation for the technical specifications to extract, format, transmit and receive a patient’s demographic data, dental or medical encounter data, and clinical data for exchange among information systems to achieve syntactic and semantic interoperability.

In 2020, HL7approved moving forward with the development of a dental consolidated clinical data architecture implementation guide and a dental Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources implementation guide based on Standard No. 1084for the guides' dental content, while using existing HL7 specifications for other information, such as demographic data, allergies and medications.

HL7 consolidated clinical data architecture uses a defined data structure to create an interoperable document for exchange, while Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources is a newer HL7 exchange standard that uses web-based application program interface requests and responses.

The implementation guides use Current Dental Terminology and the Systematized Nomenclature of Dentistry, both maintained by the ADA.

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