With hundreds of electronic medical record (EMR) choices on the market, dentists may find it a challenge to select the appropriate Dental EHR software for their practice. This guide is meant to help you begin your process of searching for EMR systems for your dental practice by providing you with information on what to search for in an EMR software.

To find the right Dental EHR for your dental practice, you should look for software that is designed specifically for dentists or a similar specialty. Dental EMR software is customized to deal with the unique characteristics of treating patients’ teeth. Dentistry involves many lab and imaging tests, so your EMR should be able to receive and analyze the large amounts of data that may be generated for each patient. Specifically, integration with panelipse and other x-ray imaging equipment will help improve workflow through automatic uploading of images directly to a patient’s file.

Many dental procedures involve the use of anesthesia. Because of this, dental EMR software may have similar features to anesthesia-specific software. Slight differences in such factors as body weight, drug interactivity, and age influence what type and how anesthesia is administered so your EMR must be able to capture all this type of data. Some EMR software choices may also have a robust alert system capable of notifying you of any potential adverse drug reactions or allergies prior to the delivery of anesthesia or the prescribing of medications. Additionally, dental practices typically send out a number of correspondence (patient reminders, insurance updates, follow-up treatments, etc.) to patients throughout the year, so you should look for EMR software capable of automating this.

At the start of software evaluation process, you should evaluate potential Dental EHR based on the following criteria:

• Practice Size: Some Dental EHR software is better suited to small practices, others to larger ones. Dental EHR software is designed for a certain number and type of user, with scalability in mind. Make sure the software you select is appropriate for the number of dentists in your practice.

• Systems Architecture: You can purchase dental EMR software that is installed directly on your computer servers on-site at your practice (“client-server”) or dental EMR software that is located in the “cloud” that you access via the Internet (“cloud-based” or software-as-a-service –“SaaS”). Some dentists prefer client-server based software since they feel more comfortable with HIPAA compliance when they control all the underlying data on their systems, despite the need to maintain and upgrade these systems periodically. Other dentists choose cloud-based software because it can be accessed almost anywhere through the Internet. However, you are reliant on your Internet connection, so you need to make sure the quality and consistency of your Internet service is high. It is worth reading about all the advantages and disadvantages of each type to make sure you choose software with the systems architecture that best matches your needs.

• Certification: When selecting your dental EMR, you should make sure that it is tested and certified by an ONC-Authorized Testing and Certification Body (“ONC-ATCB”). The ONC (Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology) is the responsible agency for establishing EMR certification standards and certifying vendor EMR products. ONC-ATCB certification assures that your EMR has met required Meaningful Use (“MU”) objectives and measures. This is a prerequisite to obtaining MU Medicaid (up to $63,750) and Medicare (up to $44,000) incentives for adopting an EMR, and avoiding penalties for not adopting one. To learn more about these topics, you may want to read the following articles:

To begin searching for the right EMR for your practice, click HERE.

Unique Features of Dental EMR Systems

Once you have narrowed down your EMR choices based on practice size, systems architecture, and certification, you can evaluate more defined features that are unique to dental practices. Such features include:

• ICD/CPT codes specific to dentistry

• Periodontal charting

• Integration with dental imaging systems

• Treatment planning

• Capability of automating patient correspondence

• Hygiene billing

Pre-designed Templates of Dental EMR Systems

EMR vendors understand that not all specialties are alike. While there are a lot of similarities shared by all EMR software, you should be able to customize whatever EMR you choose to fit your specific needs. To facilitate this, EMR vendors offer a variety of pre-designed templates such as ones tailored for:

• Endodontics

• Periodontics

• Orthodontics

• Pediatrics

• Oral and Maxillofacial

• Prosthodontics

• Oral cancer

• Dental implants

• Cosmetic dentistry

• Tooth extraction

While selecting a Dental EHR may seem like a daunting task, having familiarity with the basic selection criteria common to all EMR software as well as some of the features customized for your specialty can help you make the right choice for your practice. Find suitable dental EMR systems for your practice here.