ADA advocates for dentists in Federal Health IT Strategic Plan


The ADA is advocating for more consideration of dental industry needs in the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s Federal Health IT Strategic Plan. 

While the agency has outlined primary goals such as promoting health and wellness, enhancing the delivery and experience of care, accelerating research and innovation, and connecting the health system with health data, the ADA said that certain criteria must be supported in order for the dental industry to meet and participate in the goals. 

Specifically, the ADA called on ONC to respond to the need for consideration of gaps in existing policies and resources for dentistry, additional study of dental health information technology issues, targeted opportunities for inclusion and the promotion and representation of the dental industry in policy and decision-making. 

“The dental industry has been largely unable to share in the successes of health information technology adoption and innovation in promoting health and wellness. Exclusions and exemptions allowed for the dental software industry have created a technology environment where dental administrative and clinical data is kept in proprietary silos and have created an economy where technology is expensive, complicated and isolated from the rest of health care,” the ADA said in a letter addressed to Xavier Becerra, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. 

The ADA said it is pursuing better access to e-Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and Digital Imaging tools in dental practice management resources. It noted that persistent barriers to these and other tools “directly impact the ONC’s goals outlined in the Framework,” encouraging the ONC to convene a special interest workgroup on dental health information technology to determine if dental health should be named as a temporary additional priority target area. 

The letter, signed by ADA President Linda Edgar, D.D.S., and Executive Director Raymond Cohlmia, D.D.S., goes on to state that while the ADA applauds the ONC’s efforts to report and share progress toward advancing interoperability, public data sets and reports on U.S.-based clinicians are limited or do not include dental practices. It stated that a lack of up to date, affordable health information technology resources limits providers’ ability to participate in public insurance programs and engage in public health activities, which in turn impacts patient access to care. 

Other ADA requests include that:
•    The ONC conduct an analysis of the gaps in current policies and resources to acknowledge the impact on oral health care delivery and experience of care.
•    The ONC work with other federal offices to develop a roadmap for aligning measures and reporting in order to advance dental interoperability and data exchange.
•    The ONC conduct and publish an analysis of gaps in the existing policies and resources regarding dental data and participation in health information exchange activities that fall within the ONC’s purview. 
•    The ONC and the HIT Advisory Committee acknowledge the gap in subject matter expertise and work with industry stakeholders to identify opportunities within the nomination and selection process for dental inclusivity. 
•    The ONC promote and sponsor the development of the dental informatics workforce and the inclusion of dental in ONC HIT Curricula. 

“Dental informatics is a rapidly emerging field with exponential growth in certification programs at colleges and universities across the United States. In alignment with the pursuit of interdisciplinary education as noted in the ONC’s Notice of Funding Opportunity Public Health Informatics & Technology Workforce Development Program we encourage the ONC to revisit the recommended Health IT Curriculum Resources for Educators and to include additional content specific to dentistry,” the ADA said.

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