A game-changer is at the intersection of dentistry and medicine.
It’s happening at the Regenstrief Institute and the Indiana University (IU) School of Dentistry. With the goal of improving oral health for better overall physical and emotional health, Regenstrief Institute and the IU School of Dentistry are joining together to establish a new dental informatics program.
The confluence of this significant program will establish a research agenda and will translate and implement its findings in dental offices and other points of care to enhance oral disease prevention and treatment.
The new program is one of only a few in America. Indeed, it may be the only dental informatics program in the country linked to a clinical data repository managed by a regional health information exchange, according to a press statement from Indiana University.
The new program will use both electronic dental and medical record data for clinical research to develop inter-operable databases.
This way, there will be improvement in the knowledge of oral health problems that cause, co-occur with or result from medical conditions.
Dental informatics is an important, growing discipline that has great potential to improve health and oral health care.
Leveraging the unique combined expertise of Regenstrief Institute and IU School of Dentistry, the dental informatics program makes use of the robust research data repositories.
“While medicine has a long history of applying informatics approaches for research and patient care, in dentistry, clinical informatics is still in its infancy,” says Dr. Thankam Thyvalikakath who will lead the informatics program.
“With increased use of electronic dental record data for research and developing informatics interventions for patient care, that gap can narrow,” says Dr. Thyvalikakath, a dentist who will assume leadership of the collaborative dental informatics program.
“Closing the circle between data acquisition and data use at the point of care will reduce the burden on patients of reporting their medical history and ultimately improve clinical practice and outcomes,” says the Regenstrief Institute Research Scientist and Associate Professor in the IU School of Dentistry.
“It is expected to lead to improvements in diagnosis, prevention and treatment across a range of diseases, ultimately improving medical and dental practice, individual well-being and population health,” says President Regenstrief Institute chief executive officer of the Dr. Peter Embí.
“When we look at unmet health needs, oral health is one of the most significant,” said Carol Anne Murdoch-Kinch, DDS, PhD, dean of the IU School of Dentistry. “With this new partnership between the dental school and Regenstrief Institute we will be well positioned to use the growing amount of data being collected by dentists and researchers to advance oral health and overall health for individuals everywhere.”
With grant support from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research for the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network, Dr. Thyvalikakath established a repository of data from 99 private dental practices in the US that for the first time has demonstrated the feasibility of utilizing electronic dental record data from private practices for research and quality improvement purposes.
The clinical data repository is America’s largest inter-organizational clinical data repository with more than 12 billion-data elements about patients in Indiana and beyond./WDJ