Making the Connection

Significant changes in the way dentistry is practiced have been set in motion triggered by science and evidence-based decision making. Yet many dental professionals living in their individual silos are unaware of the sweeping changes. Oral infections have systemic implications and systemic conditions have a reciprocal impact on oral health. This is not ivory tower theory, this is reality that we know yet the question becomes what are we doing differently because we know this?  Cross-discipline and inter-professional interaction with medical care providers can create successful partnerships for the benefit of better patient care.

Not many of us work on farms, so what is that silo thing? From an information management point of view, information silos exist when one system is unable to freely communicate with other information systems because people in one system not believe there to be enough benefit from sharing information, and because information might not be useful to personnel in other systems. In other words, dentistry and medicine have mostly retained separate records. Records are not just the paper or electronic information about the care of a patient. Rather the patient is the record. This reversal of the words makes the meaning very different.  Whatever health decisions are made, ultimately each person/patient lives with the consequences. All decisions are based on the best and most complete information available. The power of health informatics is moving the public more quickly toward health consumerism meaning the record fundamentally belongs to the patient, because he or she is the record.

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