Spring came early for me this year, and I just returned from Chicago and the ADA's Standards Committee on Dental Informatics (SCDI) spring meeting. The committee meets biannually to create the technical documents and standards that you rely on in your practice today. We get together, about fifty of us, in conference rooms equipped with laptops and coffee to discuss the details of topics like the "Use of Computer-Based Resources for Access to Information Supporting Oral Healthcare."
While you might have stifled a yawn while reading the title of that particular working group, you may rest assured that we are excited to be there, and happy to help with the process of defining these standards. I represent Carestream Dental, of course, from the perspective of "The Vendor" while there are other representatives who are scientists, researchers, educators, speakers and consultants, representatives from various dental associations, administrative owners of large corporate dental practices, and plenty of actual practicing dentists. Together we apply our expertise to defining the standards and guidelines that help you make many of the decisions in your practice.
One of my favorite working groups is the WG 11.9 Core Reference Data, chaired by Dr. Amit Acharya, where we collaborate on the complete set of data that would be shared as a part of a dental set of Continuity of Care Document (CCD). Imagine a day when you could hand a CD/DVD to your patient that has their entire dental history on it, that they could easily bring to any other dentist or medical doctor for them to easily read and import directly into their own software. Sure, this interoperability standard is still a ways off, but we are the ones who are working to make it possible.
This week's meeting also made some headway in WG 11.7 Risk Assessment Software. The biggest discussion was how to define the minimum requirements for each of the three more significant patient dental health risk assessments: caries, periodontal disease, or oral cancer. The goal is to provide a standard way for a dentist to perform and document the risk assessment, as well as use agreed upon algorithms or heuristics to score those risk assessments. This would make it easy to standardize the assessments, as well as encourage improved reimbursement of those assessments from insurance companies.
The three-day meetings go by quickly, and action items are recorded and handed out to many of the committee members to address prior to the next meeting. There is a lot of work to be done, including some editorial updates to modernize ADA Technical Report No. 1029, "Digital Photography" and ADA Technical Report No. 1057, "Interoperability of Imaging Technologies." These documents will be improved very soon to help simplify any decisions you have related to your Imaging purchases in the future.
Got a question about Dental Informatics? Interested in the work we are doing? Let me know! I am interested in the value you think these reports might bring to your practice.