In this issue:

         Dental News  •  Patient Resources  •  Did You Know?  •  Practice Management Tips

Dental News

30,000-Year-Old Child's Teeth Shed New Light on Human Evolution
Classified as a modern human with Neanderthal ancestry, the child raises controversial questions about how extensively Neanderthals and modern human groups of African descent interbred when they came into contact in Europe.
Source: ScienceDaily

Health Credit Card Draws New York AG's Scrutiny
A probe of possible fraud involving the CareCredit healthcare credit card program has been launched by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, with subpoenas issued to several ophthalmology and dermatology clinics, dental offices, and a chiropractic office. Preliminary findings suggest that healthcare providers had pressured patients -- or duped them, in some cases -- into using the cards instead of other methods of payment that would have cost them less, according to a press release from Cuomo's office.
Source: MedPage Today

FDA reopens debate on dental amalgam fillings
The safety of dental fillings containing the toxic metal mercury will be debated at public hearings later this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Friday. Amalgam fillings, which contain mercury and other metals, are commonly used by dentists in Canada and the United States. Both nations have declared the fillings to be safe, but a public outcry in the U.S. has prompted a review of the evidence.
Source: CBC News

Patient Resources

Overview of Dental Services under Medicaid
An optional service for adults, dental care is required for most Medicaid-eligible individuals under age 21, as a component of the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment benefit.
Source: US Department of Health and Human Services

The Fastest-Growing Jobs for Women: No. 5 is Dental Hygienists
In other health-related jobs, dental hygienists (No. 5) are experiencing a 36% job growth and earn a median of US$67,500 per year. The top 90% of dental hygienists make US$93,000 yearly, and work schedules are often flexible. Similarly, occupational therapists, (No. 14), are experiencing a 26% growth and earn a median salary of US$69,500. The position made our list of Best-Paying Jobs For Women earlier this year.
Source: National Post

Poor Oral Hygiene Linked to Increased Cardiovascular Disease Risk
People who brush their teeth less than once a day are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease compared with those who brush their teeth twice daily, report researchers. They say their study confirms and further strengthens the suggested association between oral hygiene and heart disease, also showing that inflammatory markers are associated with poor oral health behavior.
Source: MedWire News

Did You Know?

The teeth of cadavers reveal their identity
Legal and Forensic Medicine researchers from the University of Granada (UGR) have shown that a person's dental patterns can be used as proof of their identity with the same degree of reliability as DNA testing, the method that forensic police use to reveal the identity of dead bodies. The researchers came to their conclusion after analyzing the dental patterns of more than 3,000 people. Professor Stella Martín de las Heras and her team carried out a statistical analysis of 3,166 full and partial sets of teeth taken from the databases in the three most recent National Surveys of Oral Health (1993, 2000 and 2005).
Source: AlphaGalileo

13 Reasons for EMR Adoption That Have a Financial Impact

If you dread your medical or dental clinic’s move to an EMR and the impact it may have on staff, routines and efficiency, you may want to take another look. EMR systems nowadays are designed to mimic closely the typical clinic workflow. Software vendors are eager to offer improvements and provide best practices to make the clinic management easier. Additionally, functionality is often present to spare you from repetitive tasks, and methodologies prevent you from accidentally breaking the law whenever possible. The following list provides you with some ideas on how you can make the best of digitally managing your clinic:

1. More Time Spent Doing Other Things

Accessing documents quickly is essential to running an efficient practice. Because paper charts are handled physically, they sometimes get misplaced, lost, or stolen. Recovering files is time consuming and requires contacting the patient, the lab, or other physicians. With digital systems files are copied rather than moved, and can be extracted from backups when necessary. Retrieving information is cut down to a minimum when using an EMR.

2. Ability to Access Information Remotely

You can run an EMR over the Internet, or in your local network. Fields of Code EMR Management Systems, for example, can be geared to log on to both local and remote Internet databases. The location of documents and the location of the person accessing the information are irrelevant these days. The need for shipping files is completely eliminated. Data can be communicated through the normal shared EMR records, email or fax. EMR applications that encrypt all data are the safest, guaranteed to only enable permitted users to view or edit the information.

3. Automation and Removal of Repetitive Work

The data available when using an EMR is different than when using paper files. For example, the software can help find overdue patient accounts without checking many files by hand. This is difficult and time consuming with paper charts. The set of files being processed manually may not even contain the searched information. The repetitive nature of the paper method is overwhelming and inaccurate. The software, on the other hand, can accept multiple search parameters and generate the exact find results in the form of shortcuts to the wanted files.
Here are a few additional examples of repetitive tasks that are easier when using digital records:

  • Producing personalized letters, by having the system implant automatically the names and addresses of selected patients.
  • Generating lists of patients who had appointments in a given date range.
  • Generating lists of any files that were changed or created within given time spans.
  • Reusing fee schedules for patient billing via automated lookup dictionaries instead of paper cost tables and insurance codes.

4. Simplifying Referrals

Referrals are a priority for patients in need of a specialist. Considering frequent waiting lists, sending the referral through quickly can be the only thing left to do. An EMR allows you to pull together a variety of documents from the source. Letters can be expedited by reusing previously designed report-templates, which get personalized by the system for the selected patient.

5. Safe Prescriptions

Patient benefits for using prescriptions via an EMR application are well known: the printing vs. handwriting to prevent errors when filling the prescription. Additionally, the system retains a copy of the prescription within the EMR. This is useful for reuse, verification, or as part of the record for future care. The number of calls from pharmacists is reduced because prescriptions are specified clearly. The system enables you to generate new prescriptions based on the old ones if patients suffer from chronic conditions that require reoccurring medication. If nothing changed, the system can create an exact copy of the previous prescription.

6. Being Sure the Proper Patient Is Being Treated

Digital cameras are everywhere nowadays. Taking your patients picture is quick and simple. Administrators will recognize patients easily, which increases satisfaction and prevents logging of treatments to the incorrect file. Adding personal photos to the new patient intake procedure will reduce insurance fraud as well.

7. Better Tools for Examining X-Rays

When using an EMR, you have the ability to annotate x-rays without affecting the originals. You can better examine problem areas by zooming in, which makes it easy and clear to justify treatment. Digital x-rays can also be copied and reprinted into referrals.

8. Easy Long Term Retention of Dental Records

Keep records indefinitely on a server or various storage devices, thus complying with regional requirements to retain them for any period of time. Save on physical storage facilities required for older paper files. These not only delay treatment, but also incur shipping and retrieval fees every time a file or box is being accessed.

9. Preventing Accidental Purging of Dental Records

Preventing accidental purging of files is difficult with paper records. The factors causing the purge can be many: fatigue, indecipherable handwriting, identical patient names, etc. This problem is easily remedied with EMR use, by removing the delete permission and delete functionality for selected users.

10. Avoiding the Need to Shred Documents

Use an EMR to partially, or completely remove the need for shredding. Your EMR should encrypt the data, so that you remain in complete control of who is accessing the files. When the digital files are no longer active you can delete them from the current storage and/or the older backups.

11. Reducing Photocopying Cost

Paper only files are difficult to back up and involve mostly photocopying. This takes time and a growing physical storage space is required as well. The procedure entails administrators handling the files manually, which makes them unavailable to staff for the duration of the backup maneuver. However, software backups can be run as frequently as necessary. They can be performed after hours, and tools are available to create full or selective exports based on the most recently modified items as needed.

12. Justifying Treatments

Use your ability to create printed copies of charts to educate patients on their condition, and visually enforce the need for treatment. For example, printing patient-friendly periodontal charts as a brushing/flossing guide can greatly contribute to patients’ health, and helps them to be aware that things are improving and motivates to continue treatments.

13. Prevention of Critical Medical Errors

With paper only charts, every time a new page is added to the patient file, that page must be flagged with existing conditions, reactions and medications. This is done to prevent conflicting care for coexisting diseases. Placing these flags consistently is difficult and prone to error. This is not the case with digital systems that automate the process and create visual alerts on every page of the file without user intervention.

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