Pacific Dental Services DSO Partnering With HPU Dental School to Extend its Epic Health Records System


PDS is the first dental support organization to partner with an academic institution using Epic's Community Connect program.

Pacific Dental Services DSO Partnering With HPU Dental School to Extend its Epic Health Records System

In a unique partnership, Pacific Dental Services® (PDS), one of the nation's leading dental support organizations (DSOs), is working with High Point University (HPU) in North Carolina to extend its instance of Epic, a widely used comprehensive electronic health records system, for use in the college's Workman School of Dental Medicine and dental practices affiliated with the school through the HPU Oral Health Network.

This agreement is described as the first of its kind for a DSO to partner with an academic institution. It was made possible by Epic's Community Connect program, which allows larger health care systems already employing Epic to extend its use to others that would not otherwise be in a position to utilize the platform.

As part of the agreement, PDS will roll out Epic at HPU, provide the onboarding and training for the platform, and maintain ongoing support services. The university will then use Epic to give its dental students real-world exposure to the future of dental-medical integration through the technology, while providing integrated dental and medical care to its patients.

"We are honored for the opportunity to work with the High Point University Workman School of Dental Medicine to enhance dental and medical data integration and enable the future of oral health care," Stephen E. Thorne IV, Founder and CEO of Pacific Dental Services, says in a press release. "We know the impact dental professionals can have on patients' overall health and in the overall health care system. We are taking steps to lead the industry and elevate dentists from being primarily focused on fixing dentition to embracing their full potential and becoming a vital part of every patient's primary health care team."

Epic is used by leading hospitals, health care systems and medical schools, which rely on the company's software to manage the patient's health journey. Given the link between oral health and certain systemic conditions, an integrated electronic health records (EHR) was the clear solution to unite previously compartmentalized health data.

After years of collaboration and foundational work, PDS became the first DSO in the world to implement Epic into all of its more than 900 supported dental practices nationwide in 2022. Working with Epic to partner for dental has already yielded significant benefits for PDS' supported clinicians and their patients, through improved collaboration between providers, early detection of systemic conditions, and enhanced patient experience, according to the press release.

"We are very excited about this partnership. As an Epic Community Connect partner of Pacific Dental Services, we are adding a custom-built dental version of Epic that bridges dentistry and medicine. Epic allows us to capture real-time data that will have tremendous value for delivering integrated oral healthcare, education, and research," says Ali Shazib, DMD, Chief Clinical Officer of the HPU Oral Health Network. "With the experience of PDS, we are confident we will be supported throughout the entire process, from preparation to go-live and beyond."

High Point University's Doctor of Dental Medicine degree program will enroll its inaugural class in the fall of 2024 and the Workman School of Dental Medicine will be North Carolina's only dental school that is part of a private university. Starting their first semester, students will spend a significant amount of time rotating through HPU Oral Health Network practices to provide and observe patient care and learn dental auxiliary roles and functions.

Part of that experiential learning will be utilizing state-of-the-art technology, including Epic, to manage patients' oral health and medical needs. The HPU Oral Health Network will be fully interoperable with health care systems utilizing Epic (and able to exchange records with any health system that uses modern standards), allowing for team-based and integrated care for patients. In addition, dental students will have the ability to refer undiagnosed medical conditions to health care providers as well as manage the oral health needs for patients who are referred to them by their medical colleagues. This form of integrated care is the future of health care, underscoring the importance of oral health to overall health, and will allow HPU graduates to thrive in a team-based environment.

"Pacific Dental Services' Epic implementation into the HPU Oral Health Network of clinical practices allows us to leverage data to advance clinical decision making and outcomes research," says Scott S. De Rossi, DMD, MBA, Founding Dean of HPU's Workman School of Dental Medicine and CEO of HPU Oral Health Network. "Having Epic through a Community Connect affiliation with PDS allows us to be at the forefront of integrating general and oral health. It will allow us to provide an elevated patient experience and improve health outcomes for those whom we serve, ensuring our students get the very best clinical education."

David Baker, Chief Information and Digital Officer of Pacific Dental Services, adds. "We believe that the collaboratively designed Pacific Dental Services instance of the Epic health records system is the most powerful dental platform in the world. Once siloed data is now together, forging a true longitudinal patient record, which will in turn drive powerful oral-systemic health connections. We plan to expand on this work with additional dental schools, private dental practices, DSOs, and health care systems to offer Epic through the Community Connect program."

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