Understanding EHR through dental school software

December 1st, 2014


Dental school students need access to advanced technology to successfully complete their degrees and prepare for their careers. With an effective dental academic software platform, students can more easily learn on their own. Professors can also encourage self-study skills by assigning sufficiently challenging problems. At the same time, these institutions can also use this technology to establish EHR proficiency.

Optimizing EHRs
One of the reasons students need to develop experience working with EHRs is that the subject remains controversial. People don't always agree on the best practices for this product, according to EHR Intelligence. The major area of concern has to do with optimizing the EHR products in such a way that the best technology is available to doctors and patients alike at the lowest cost. This generally means updating to the latest tools as soon as they become available. For students, it means they will be plunged into a world where the coding will remain roughly the same (The coding will switch to ICD-10 by Oct. of 2015), but the software will likely continue to change as the theories behind best practices and user efficiency evolve.

Additionally, when dentists and oral hygiene professionals are using their EHR software, there is the danger involved in accidentally using the product incorrectly and giving someone the wrong blood type, for example, or accidentally entering codes wrong so that procedures are sent incorrectly through to insurance companies. The result could be a lack of professionalism that may not have anything to do with someone's ability to perform dentistry, but it will relate to how well that person had already learned the basics of EHRs.

The ongoing debate about how to maximize EHR's effectiveness continues to be up for discussion, and until there is a final resolution about how to best go about preparing medical records electronically, there will always be new things to learn. Much in the same way that a person has to start at the beginning of a history book to understand the events that happen later, doctors and oral hygienists will most benefit from having a firm grounding in the very roots of EHR software.

EHR and the government
A recent study by Fierce Health IT points to the increasingly complex nature of EHRs that students will have to learn and master if they plan on practicing dentistry in an advanced clinic. According to the article, Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Michael Bennett (D-Colo.) plan to enact the Medical Electronic Data Technology Enhancement for Consumers' Health (MEDTECH) Act. This will place EHRs outside the realm of intervention by those responsible for the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

What this means is that EHRs will likely be unregulated. Just about anyone can create an EHR system as long as the codes comply with ICD-10 and the information is sent properly to the appropriate insurance companies and government health regulators.

As such, in a place where EHR is becoming even more complex and difficult to understand, the best resolution is for dentists and oral care practitioners to begin with simple programs such as dental enterprise software that is relatively easy to understand. From there, they can move forward to the more advanced and customized products that hospitals will likely have by the time students graduate.

The two things that students fundamentally need most are the ability to study for themselves, which can be trained through research projects, and the ability to understand EHR software. In the end, the two disciplines are related in the sense that they both require someone to make up his or her own mind about highly complex subjects. However, while someone can use the internet or a library to study about dentistry, people can only learn EHR through the direct experience of using dental enterprise software.

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