The Code on Dental Procedures and Nomenclature (CDT) is generally thought to be used only for efficient processing of dental claims. This is true yet incomplete. Another purpose for CDT is to populate Electronic Health Records (EHR.) This second purpose saw more light in the 2014 discussion of the Code Maintenance Committee (CMC) and changes were made for CDT 2015.
The existence of a code does not mean a patient has coverage under a policy. Yet without a code, no coverage could be offered. Part of the Affordable Care Act is aimed at improving the quality, efficiency, and overall value of health care. Reimbursements will be tied to outcomes in the future. Having a code provides us with the opportunity to measure outcome data.
EHR as well as the Affordable Care Act is moving our healthcare system toward more structured data gathering and evaluation. A standard EHR and interoperable national health information infrastructure requires the use of uniform health information standards, including a common language. Data must be collected and maintained in a standardized format using uniform definitions in order to link data within an EHR system or share health information with other systems. The lack of standards has been a key barrier to electronic connectivity in healthcare. Together, standard clinical terminologies and classifications represent a common medical language, allowing clinical data to be effectively utilized and shared among EHR systems. Neither a clinical terminology nor a classification can, by itself, serve all of the purposes for which health information is currently used or will be used in the future. CDT is one form of structured data.