Here’s something for dentists to chew over: dental practitioners in Minnesota will be required by law to adopt a certified, interoperable EHR system by 2015, just like their medical counterparts. Minnesota is the first state to add dentists, oral surgeons, and orthodontists to the mix, but it may be a trend other states will follow.
“This was done in the hopes that it would lead to better care for patients,” Carmelo Cinqueonce, executive director of the Minnesota Dental Association (MDA) told DrBicuspid.com. Dentists and oral surgeons who take a patient’s blood pressure, for example, will be able to share that data with a primary care provider, as well. “I think [Minnesota is] a mecca for healthcare and innovation, and it’s appropriate that Minnesota is the first in adopting EHRs.”
Unlike the Medicare EHR Incentive Programs, there are currently no penalties planned for non-participation, but that might change in the future, notes Mike Uretz, executive director of DentalAdvisor.com. “There are no ‘teeth’ yet, and the state isn’t saying what potential penalties there will be,” he said. “However, they probably wouldn’t set a mandate if down the line they don’t intend to enforce it. Just as in the medical EHR incentive program, initially they will probably ask practices to attest to compliance.”
Dentists are already eligible for the federal program, and can apply for exemptions from non-applicable requirements while still receiving meaningful use incentive payments. But participation has been relatively limited, and most dentists who have adopted an EHR don’t have an ONC-certified package. Dentist-specific EHRs are recognizing the need for certification, however, and many are working towards achieving the ONC’s stamp of approval.
“Mandates will help accelerate things, but at the end of the day EHRs are for better patient care and there is less liability,” Uretz said. “And you’re going to see features and functionality coming out in the next few years that will knock the socks off people.”