Home Dental Radiology Translating periodontal data to knowledge in a learning health system

Translating periodontal data to knowledge in a learning health system

by adminjay



A learning health system (LHS) is a health system in which patients and clinicians work together to choose care on the basis of best evidence and to drive discovery as a natural outgrowth of every clinical encounter to ensure the right care at the right time. An LHS for dentistry is now feasible, as an increased number of oral health care encounters are captured in electronic health records (EHRs).


The authors used EHRs data to track periodontal health outcomes at 3 large dental institutions. The 2 outcomes of interest were a new periodontitis case (for patients who had not received a diagnosis of periodontitis previously) and tooth loss due to progression of periodontal disease.


The authors assessed a total of 494,272 examinations (new periodontitis outcome: n = 168,442; new tooth loss outcome: n = 325,830), representing a total of 194,984 patients. Dynamic dashboards displaying performance on both measures over time allow users to compare demographic and risk factors for patients. The incidence of new periodontitis and tooth loss was 4.3% and 1.2%, respectively.


Periodontal disease, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment are particularly well suited for an LHS model. The results showed the feasibility of automated extraction and interpretation of critical data elements from the EHRs. The 2 outcome measures are being implemented as part of a dental LHS. The authors are using this knowledge to target the main drivers of poorer periodontal outcomes in a specific patient population, and they continue to use clinical health data for the purpose of learning and improvement.

Practical Implications

Dental institutions of any size can conduct contemporaneous self-evaluation and immediately implement targeted strategies to improve oral health outcomes.

Key Words

Abbreviation Key:

EHR (Electronic health record), LHS (Learning health system), NA (Not applicable), Perio (Periodontitis), T0 (From 6 through 36 months before the reporting period), T1 (During the reporting period)

Evidence-based decision making in health care is becoming more complicated. Clinicians must make decisions that integrate evolving scientific evidence, taking into account many data points. Once these decisions are made, little information is available about their long-term impact, limiting the ability to learn from and ultimately improve health outcomes.


  • Levit L.
  • Balogh E.
  • Nass S.
  • Ganz P.A.
Patient-centered communication and shared decision making.