Workflow and Dental EHRs: The Role of Verbal Charting

One of the big challenges everyone knows faces the adoption of dental EHRs is the integration of data collection and data entry into the worfklow. Dentistry is often a two-hands-on job, and a dental assistant may provide a third or fourth hand. Adding another person to the exam room isn’t practical. So speech-to-text software has been discussed as a solution.

A dental EHR contains complex, but often predictable, data. In particular, periodontal charting is a time-consuming (some would say tedious) task of whole mouth examination and recording data about every single tooth. A single person can do the whole exam, but collecting the data often requires a listener or slowing down the exam significantly.

Well, at least one software is aiming to try to address this problem. The video below contains a demonstration of PerioPal software, which uses abbreviations and standardized commands to capture periodontal data consistently and without typing.

This software is limited, mostly containing the voice-to-text periodontal exam data capture rather than complete patient information. However–it hearkens to a new era. Dental workflow is being considered and built into software systems. Dental EHRs may catch up to other medical professionals’ available software soon. As usability and standardization of terminology increases, this will produce greater and greater functionality and more benefits to the end users–dentists.

Lessons Learned:

  • Dental EHRs are often not optimized for the standard situations where many hands are needed during a procedure.
  • Voice-to-text software offers great potential for data capture and standardization of terminology.
  • As dental workflow is considered and designed for rather than around, dental EHRs will become more usable.

PerioPal (2009) PerioPal Software for Periodontal Exams. YouTube.