Exchanging Patient Information Seamlessly and Securely

Imagine that you are a dentist who wants to consult an endodontist some distance away about a problem a patient is having. You need to send her the patient’s x-rays in a fast and secure manner. Today, you may have trouble transmitting the images digitally if you and the other dentist use different systems. To make the transfer seamless, the systems must be interoperable. That’s where the ADA is contributing to a solution.

The ADA is working to ensure that dental offices can exchange diagnostic digital images and patient data securely with other healthcare entities, no matter what system they use. The ADA’s Standards Committee on Dental Informatics (SCDI) serves as the sponsor of the Dental Domain under the independent standards group known as Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE). SCDI is leading the team of experts that is developing the standards and testing the software that will make that goal a reality.

“We are responding to ADA members who have told us, ‘I can’t exchange my dental images with the specialist down the street because we have different software and computer systems’,” said Dr. Kirt Simmons, Dental Domain co-chair for IHE. “This collaboration [between the ADA and IHE] is working on solutions that will help dentists to select interoperable systems allowing for the secure and private exchange of images while maintaining HIPAA compliance.”

By 2014, SCDI will sponsor the first IHE Connectathon, an annual event where vendors of dental systems will test their systems for conformance to the new interoperability standards, as verified by independent judges. An interoperability demonstration is also planned for the 2014 ADA Annual Session.

Additional Resources:

Interoperability of digital dental imaging files is made possible through DICOM, a standardized file format that makes possible the export and import of digital medical images and data between systems in a secure manner. More information on DICOM and interoperability of digital dental imaging systems can be found in ADA Technical Report No. 1057, Guidelines for Digital Imaging Systems and Interoperability in Today’s Dental Practice available through the ADA Catalog.

HIPAA compliance is a major factor when considering exchange of digital images. The ADA makes available numerous information sources on HIPAA at ADA.org/HIPAA.

Source:  American Dental Association