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J Am Dent Assoc. 2018 Feb;149(2):122-131. doi: 10.1016/j.adaj.2017.09.030.

Need for diagnostic-centric care in dentistry: A case study from the Marshfield Clinic Health System.



The study objective was to evaluate the workflow of dental providers who use the existing electronic dental record (EDR) system at a large regional health care system to establish a diagnostic-centric culture as part of their dental practice. A further goal focused on identifying when improvements to the workflow and design of the EDR may be indicated.


Dental procedures performed on patients and corresponding International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) diagnoses were retrospectively mined from Marshfield Clinic's enterprise data warehouse. All dental procedures performed were selected and paired with corresponding diagnostic codes documented by dental providers. Frequency of documented diagnosis was further analyzed by characterizing correspondence with their ranking order in the diagnosis column with and without a scroll bar within the EDR user interface (UI). Accuracy of selecting appropriate ICD-9-CM for the corresponding Code on Dental Procedure and Nomenclature (CDT) was checked for 10% (n = 6,187) of the procedure-diagnosis pairs.


Of the 61,511 unique procedures documented using 147 CDTs, 11% (6,914 procedures) had a corresponding "not available" option associated under the diagnoses column, whereas 89% (54,597) of dental procedures were associated with a corresponding ICD-9-CM diagnostic code. Overall tendency of dental providers to select the first or last options from the diagnostic list with a scroll bar was noted. Appropriateness of documenting corresponding ICD-9-CM to CDT procedures indicated 98% accuracy.


EDR UI design greatly affected documentation process. Redesigning the EDR UI from the results will increase both the quality and utility of clinical documentation.


Code on Dental Procedure and Nomenclature; International Classification of Disease; electronic dental record; electronic health record; structured data documentation; user computer interface

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