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Merging of patient records breaks down barriers between dentistry and medicine

Connecting dental and medical records is a major step in integrating oral health with other health disciplines. (Image: lucadp/Shutterstock)

Thu. 15 December 2022


SAN FRANCISCO, US: The need for increased interdisciplinarity between dentistry and medicine to the benefit of patients has been proved again and again. A first step towards this goal has been taken by the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) by merging medical and dental records into one electronic health record. This process is expected to enable clinicians to provide more individualised and comprehensive care for their patients.

The link between oral health status and overall health has been addressed in many studies. Recent research associates bad oral health with various illnesses and conditions, including diabetes, cognitive decline and dementia, cancer, cardiovascular disease and COVID-19. Even though the data is very clear, it has been difficult for clinicians to look at the bigger picture.

“We know that oral health impacts a wide range of conditions, from heart disease to preterm birth, but until now it has been difficult for healthcare providers to make those connections for individual patients. [The medical and dental records integration] is the type of integration and innovation that helps us offer patients world-class care based on both the latest science and their specific needs,” commented Dr Michal Reddy, dean of the UCFS School of Dentistry, in a press release.

Since the beginning of December, health and dental records of patients who receive care at the university medical centre and dental clinic will be accessible for clinicians via an electronic record system, enabling them to gain a broader understanding of their patient’s overall health and to work together with clinicians from other disciplines. In addition, patients will be able to access both records as well as their respective treatment appointments in one place.

Suresh Gunasekaran, president and CEO of UCSF Health, said: “This connection gives UCSF Health and UCSF dental clinicians a more complete picture of their patients’ health information, including a shared medication list, and provides new opportunities to coordinate care.”

He added: “Given the synergistic relationship between oral health and overall wellness, a comprehensive approach to oral and medical care makes sense and positions UCSF to be a leader in breaking down barriers between the fields of dentistry and medicine.”

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