Center for Dental Informatics

Contact: Mei Song, PhD: for immediate release (12/20/2010)

Center for Dental Informatics releases V. 1.0 of the Dental Information Model

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 20 – The Center for Dental Informatics has released V. 1.0 of the Dental Information Model (DIM), a blueprint for the content and structure of patient records in general dentistry. The model is primarily intended to help information technology developers design comprehensive patient records, and, in the future, to enable the seamless exchange of data among dental practices. In addition, the model will help facilitate the reuse of clinical patient data for research. The model is available on the Dental Informatics Online Community Website.

“In an increasingly networked world of health information, dentistry cannot afford to maintain the status quo. In order to continue to improve the health of our patients, we need to share patient data in meaningful and useful ways among the members of the healthcare team. The Dental Information Model is one of the first steps to help bring about a patient-centered approach to managing dental information,” says Dr. Titus Schleyer, Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Dental Informatics (CDI) at the University of Pittsburgh.

The project, begun in 2006, recently received funding through a grant from the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). The R21 award, totaling $196,000, will support teams at the Center for Dental Informatics and the Marshfield Clinic Biomedical Informatics Research Center to further develop the model. Once formally validated, the model is expected to have significant and far-reaching benefits for dentistry, such as providing a validated resource for the design of electronic dental records; representing patient information more comprehensively and logically than possible using current approaches; making the exchange of patient information easier; and facilitating research in dental practice-based research networks.

As an important milestone in the project, the research team today formally launched the DIM project Website. The Website is designed to keep the dental and other communities abreast of the project development and progress, and more importantly, to get interested people actively involved and contribute in constructive ways. “We are looking for people to critique the model, help us augment it, and, most importantly, use it. That is the only way to find out whether the model meets the needs of dental practice, research and education,” Schleyer says. In order to create further awareness, the model will be presented at a joint ADEA/AADR Symposium titled Information Models, Terminologies and Ontologies: Current Developments in Dentistry on March 16, 2011, in San Diego.

To encourage people’s active participation, several interactive features are built in the site. Users will be able to download different versions of the model, post comments and suggestions to help refine the model, and contact the research team to propose potential collaboration to get more directly involved. A more full-fledged project Website is planned for the future.