Let's stop wasting dataI was speaking at an event last night for general dental practitioners who are involved with, or interested in joining, studies in dental practice. One of my fellow speakers was a very engaging speaker called John Parkinson, who is director of the The Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) about which I will speak a little later.
Diagnostic codesA little while ago I blogged about how useful it would be if dental electronic health records were to incorporate diagnostic codes to allow tracking of patient outcomes over time. The potential to observe the success or otherwise of patient management could be huge. Not only could we observe outcomes to routine treatment but potentially also conduct trials in practice using the codes to track what problems patients arrive with, any interventions we randomise them to, and the outcome.
So, for example, one of the audience last night asked the question: in a time-restricted environment is it better to provide oral hygiene advice or do a quick scale and polish, presumably for a patient with gingivitis rather than destructive periodontal disease. Well, using the SNOMED codes that I blogged about at the first encounter a dentist would record the following from a drop down box in the patient's record:
Code 66383009 Gingivitis (disorder)
Then the clinician records how it was managed. This could be as part of a randomised controlled trial - half patients are randomly allocated to scale and polish, half to oral hygiene instruction:
Code 234696006 Scale and polish teeth (procedure)
58707002 Oral hygiene education (procedure)