Medical and Dental Integration: A Need for Improved Electronic Health Records

Published 08/17/2023

The benefits of integrating oral health care and overall health care are well-known. However, the inability for medical and dental providers to access and contribute to shared patient records continues to be a barrier to an integrated health system.  

To learn about provider experiences with electronic health records (EHRs), CareQuest Institute conducted a survey of more than 100 medical and dental providers at Federally Qualified Health Centers. FQHCs were selected due to their role as innovators and early adopters of medical-dental integration. 

Barriers to an Integrated Health System 

Key findings from the survey highlight significant barriers to collaboration and data exchange, including: 

  • Fewer than half (42%) of dental providers at colocated facilities can use their health center’s EHR system to enter information into patients’ medical records. 
  • The vast majority (88%) of medical and dental providers at colocated facilities cannot revise their mutual patients’ treatment plans. 
  • Medical providers have more access to identify medications and make referrals to outside health care providers through the EHR system than do dental providers. 
  • All dental providers (100%) would like the ability to view their patients’ medical information. 

To create a truly person-centered care health system that includes co-management of oral and systemic health, medical and dental EHR integration is necessary. 

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