A change being made in a specific requirement of the 2014 Edition of electronic health records meaningful use will make it far easier for dentists and their software vendors to comply.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology is tweaking the requirement in an interim final rule available here and being published on November 4 with a 60-day comment period.

The “Common Meaningful Use Data Set” identifies 16 types of data and, where applicable, associated vocabularies, according to the interim final rule. Paragraph 15 of the data set requires that EHR technology represent procedures using SNOMED CT or a combination of the CPT-4 and HCPCS vocabularies. Paragraph 15 also gave the option for EHR vendors to represent procedures in either the Current Dental Terminology (CDT) or ICD-10-PCS.

Based on stakeholder feedback, ONC now has determined that CDT is best suited to represent dental procedures. “Our fact-finding uncovered two important points,” according to the rule. “First, stakeholders confirmed that CDT is specifically designed for and used to represent dental procedures. Additionally, they stated that although SNOMED CT and CPT-4/HCPCS as clinical terminologies are best for most other medical settings, those standards sparingly include dental procedure codes. Stakeholders indicated that CDT was far and above the best-suited standard to represent dental procedures because of its depth, breadth and specific focus on these unique types of procedures.”

Further, stakeholders said that the original wording of the requirement would cause undue burden and unnecessary work and costs for dental EHR vendors who would have to build SNOMED CT or CPT-4/HCPCS into their products even if these vocabularies are insufficient for representing dental procedures.

“We emphasize, however, that this limited revision to the regulation is intended only for EHR technology that has been primarily developed to record dental procedures,” ONC asserts in the rule. “In all other cases, EHR technology must continue to be tested and certified using SNOMED CT or CPT-4/HCPCS to represent procedures.”

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