Transition to Paperless Dentistry

The Hudson River HealthCare dental clinics serve teeny mouths: children. So when they decided to take on electronic records, they had to consider how it would impact the many still-growing patients in their region. They decided on Dentrix G2, and have many practical recommendations in the slideshow below, which chronicles their adventures until they were fully live.

The main reason HRHC decided to implement dental electronic health records was to expand. In order to expand effectively and with best reach, they felt that EHR was the way to go. This presentation chronicles the reasoning, budget process, key technical choices and initial obstacles they encountered.

In particular, the presenter emphasizes that every aspect of workflow will change–daily operations simply won’t be the same. And that’s a good thing. From cabinetry to sharing with parents, dental records have changed their practice. They considered whether or not to use flat screens (yes), use of wireless versus cables, protection from water spray, reduction in space and chemicals needed for digital radiography, as well as education and consulting opportunities of digital radiography.

In addition, this presentation offers some simple questions to consider about technology. For instance, “count the maximum number of all computers operating at the same time,” (slide 34) to consider bandwidth needs, particularly during backups. Because HRHC is a network of clinics, they also needed to connect across geographical distances, changing their considerations.

So what problems did they encounter? The transfer of data was not seamless. Fields did not map 1-1 between their original system and Dentrix, slowing their ability to work with patients. Recommended specifications were also not enough for their regular needs, necessitating almost immediate upgrades.

Over the long haul, the need to keep upgrading hardware and costs of data integration were the biggest obstacles. The annual technical support contracts were also challenges to negotiate and enforce. However, overall, HRHC made the transition and has seen benefits.

Lessons Learned:
  • Be prepared for workflow changes.
  • Technical and practical questions are key considerations, right down to office furniture.
  • Data integration from source systems into EHRs needs piloting, testing and re-testing.
Hames, Clifford (2007). Evolution or Revolution? EDRs as a Vital Component of CHC Dental Practice Expansion. Presentation at the National Primary Oral Health Conference, Dec 12. Last Accessed 3/3/2013: