The largest study to date of electronic dental records delves into both previously inaccessible data and data from understudied populations with the ultimate goal of improving oral treatment outcomes. The work presents a learning health system—a mechanism for dentists to learn from their own experience and the experiences of fellow practitioners.
Researchers at Indiana University School of Dentistry, USA, evaluated de-identified data from the electronic dental records (EDRs) of 217,887 patients of 99 solo or small dental practices across the United States. These EDRs contained more than 11 million observations, with observation periods as long as 37 years.
The study—published in Applied Clinical Informatics—determined that it is feasible to mine and utilise enormous amounts of EDR data to learn which dental therapies work and which do not, empowering quality improvement by individual dentists. EDR data is sufficiently reliable for purposes beyond the clinical care of individual patients.
Learning from aggregating data across practices gives each dental practitioner the opportunity to acquire knowledge not only from his or her own patient data but also the opportunity to compare their practice with their peers. Information obtained during each patient’s visit thus contributes to improved care for all, creating a true learning health system.
“Findings derived from patient data in real-world conditions is typically less difficult for clinicians to translate at the point of care than studies performed in large health systems which often represent a patient population that does not mirror the community dentists see in their practices,” lead researcher Dr Thankam Thyvalikakath said.
“We are presenting a mechanism for dentists, many of whom practise by themselves or with only one or two others, to learn from their own experience and from the experiences of their peers to assist in improving skills and facing problems.”
This article was sourced from Medical Xpress.