Closing the Information Gap With Health Information Exchange

Date: May 26th, 2022Category: CORHIO e-NewsletterTopics: HIE, CORHIO Network, Contexture, Colorado Dental Association

Pilot program with Colorado Dental Association connects dentists with other practices

Dental practices are known for equipping their offices with the most up-to-date medical equipment and technology. Yet dental electronic medical record software is often incompatible with medical software platforms that other healthcare providers use to obtain important past and current medical information, such as medical history, allergies, past surgical procedures and other factors that could affect patient outcomes.

“The dental community does not regularly communicate with physicians so they must rely on getting the information that they need from their patients,” said Dr. Kevin Patterson, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon for Denver Metro OMS. “You are relying on your patients for current medications and allergies, current diagnoses, and past medical procedures. Some patients are good historians and some have difficulty recounting this important information.”

Though Patterson has access to health information exchange (HIE) through his hospital affiliations, accessing HIE for those patients not seen in a hospital can be more problematic in his office, where he’s practiced for 24 years.

“Medical and dental software programs don’t talk well together,” he said. “This shortcoming of both medical and dental software platforms makes it difficult to obtain the information you need making it necessary to contact a patient’s primary care provider.”

Patterson notes his staff often makes several time-consuming inquiries a day to obtain medical history from other care providers.

“There should be a centralized database you can access to get current beneficial information without having to play phone tag with other physician offices or other provider offices,” he said.

Participation in HIE Trial
Intrigued by the promise of HIE to deliver more comprehensive health data to dental practices, Patterson is participating in a pilot program between the Colorado Dental Association (CDA) and CORHIO (a Contexture organization).

Dental care providers who join the program will save the implementation fee ($10,000) plus receive two months service. Through the program, qualified dental providers can access real-time online patient medical summaries including health history, medications, recent procedures, test results and more.

Patterson, who has participated in the program for six weeks, acknowledges that there’s a learning curve in accessing the information. Yet, he characterized the benefit as “phenomenal.”

“It’s a common knowledge base of what’s going on with your patient,” he said. “There are a number of things that would be very beneficial for people in dentistry to have access to.”

As the sole user of the platform at his practice, Patterson said he plans to train his staff at Denver Metro OMS on how to use the technology when he gets more comfortable with it. He cautions that learning the platform (PatientCare 360®) takes time and patience but he’s encouraged that the persistence will pay off over time.

Unlocking Potential
A recent article in EHR Intelligence explored how the pilot program between  could unlock potential in patient-centered care and value-based payment methods.

“Dentists can document conditions they may diagnose as part of the patient-screening process back into the HIE system for healthcare providers to access,” said Greg Hill, executive director and CEO of the CDA in the article. “It’s a great opportunity for the dentist not just to pull down the information so that they can better treat the patient, but also add back things into that healthcare record that might be beneficial on the flip side to the primary care provider.”

Learn More
To learn how your dental office can access real-time, online patient medical summaries including health history, medications, recent procedures, test results and more, please contact Douglas Swords at