Dental/medical data integration holds promise for improved oral-systemic health. Move ushers in a new era of dentist-physician relationship and underscores the importance of understanding the Mouth-Body Connection®
Pacific Dental Services® (PDS), one of the country’s leading dental support organizations, announces it has fully deployed Epic, the most widely used comprehensive electronic health records system in the United States, into 100% of its supported dental practices. Currently supporting almost 900 dental practices and growing, PDS is the world’s first organization of its kind to enable dental and medical data integration, which holds the promise for improved patient health.
As the single largest commitment of time, energy, and resources for any single project in the history of PDS, even as the COVID-19 pandemic gained traction in early 2020, the decision was made to proceed with deployment to its supported practices, with the first launch occurring in April of that year.
Implementing Epic into all practices supported by PDS illustrates its unwavering commitment to changing the way the dental and medical professions are connected. “Oral healthcare is a critical component of overall health, and this investment has enabled our supported clinicians and their patients to more fully participate in the promise of a seamless, comprehensive healthcare system focused on whole-body health,” said Stephen E. Thorne IV, Founder and CEO of Pacific Dental Services.
In just over two years, PDS successfully converted over 9.7 million patient records from its existing practice management software to Epic, spent 16,000 hours training almost 14,000 team members and clinicians, integrated the new software with existing human resources, revenue cycle management, and financial systems, and completed deployment to over 885 individual supported practices across 25 states.
Epic holds more than 250 million patients’ current electronic health records. The system is used by leading hospitals, healthcare systems and medical schools, which rely on the company’s unique software to manage the patient’s health journey. A number of dental schools have also begun transitioning their systems to Epic for this reason.
“Whether the patients of PDS’ supported practices go to the dentist’s office, a clinic, or a hospital, their providers can now review their dental history along with the rest of their medical history from one record in Epic,” said Judy Faulkner, Founder and CEO of Epic. “Our collaboration with PDS supports the connection between dental and medical care, creating a more comprehensive approach to health.”
Integrating a powerful health record system into a nationwide dental support organization holds the promise for improved oral-systemic care, as PDS’ supported clinicians can now digitally share important health information about their patients with other healthcare professionals, closing care gaps, reducing duplication and promoting better overall health.
Other benefits of Pacific Dental Services’ Epic deployment include:
● Seamless viewing and understanding of patient data, including patient visits, lab results, prescriptions, and more
● Creating more thorough treatment plans by understanding the effect oral health has on systemic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, pregnancy, and more
● Early identification of diseases, such as diabetes, based on changes in gum and oral health, leading to stronger collaboration with medical providers and improved patient outcomes
● Helping supported dentists and their teams build trust with their patients and more fully participate in an integrated healthcare system
● Enabling patients to view their acute health, primary health, and dental health history all in one place. By accessing their own health information through Epic’s MyChart patient portal, patients can also communicate with providers, schedule appointments, request prescription refills, and more.
This milestone also illustrates to patients that visiting the dentist is an important component of overall healthcare, particularly as collaboration and coordinated care between medical and dental providers becomes the norm.
As part of its effort to revolutionize healthcare and advocate for better collaboration between medical and dental professionals, one of the main challenges PDS faced was compartmentalized health data, where records are only accessible to providers on the same platform. To combat this, PDS collaborated with Epic as its vanguard partner in the dental space over four years ago to enhance and optimize Epic’s dental module, Wisdom, to better support a nationwide organization.
The benefits of this momentous effort were immediately seen. Right away, PDS’ supported dental professionals found integrated health records provided a better understanding of their patients’ overall health, resulting in more effective treatment plans. It also helped empower their patients to take more ownership of their health, as they were able to better connect their oral health with their overall health.
This unique partnership furthers PDS’s goal to educate others on the link between their oral health and overall health – what PDS and its supported practices call The Mouth-Body Connection®. Research shows that harmful bacteria and inflammation in the mouth can indicate and even cause systemic conditions throughout the body. Periodontal disease has been connected to systemic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, pre-term/low-weight births, cancer and more. Conversely, the link is often bi-directional. Many systemic diseases, conditions and even medications can affect a patient’s oral health.
“We have long promoted the Mouth-Body Connection as an essential understanding of systemic patient care. By enhancing the collaboration between dental and medical professionals, the integration of Epic into all of our practices puts our central philosophy into motion,” said Thorne. “We pride ourselves in investing in the best tools, systems and advanced, proven technology available, and partnering with a world-class operation like Epic underscores our commitment to whole-body health.”