Overview Screen for Electronic Dental Records

No one denies that the gap between electronic dental record design and the practical needs of dental offices can sometimes seem wide. Researchers at the Center for Dental Informatics (CDI) at the University of Pittsburgh are working on behalf of dentists to bridge this gap and improve software design. Dr. Thankam Thyvalikakath’s doctoral thesis looked at how and in what order dentists review clinical data when confronted with a new complex case.  Dr. Titus Schleyer, CDI Director, points out that:

“One of the key results of our analysis was that dental clinicians wanted an ‘overview’ of patients whose record they reviewed for the first time. Strangely enough, very few EDRs offer this feature, which is relatively easily implemented using computer-based records but not paper-based ones.”

An overview, especially of the clinical summary, is also a critical software component of EHR certification for the Medicaid/Medicare meaningful use incentive program.

Along with several Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) graduate students at Carnegie Mellon University, Dr. Thyvalikakath helped develop the DMD Project Demo overview screen. This page provides a brief look at the patient’s demographic information, chief complaint, medications, risk factors, medical alerts, last progress note and dental history, along with procedures scheduled for the current appointment. Providers can view the most recent images and drill down from the overview page to more specific information. Usability studies from providers who tested the prototype drew responses favoring the design and its adoption by dental vendors.

Lessons Learned:

  • An overview screen allows providers to quickly scan pertinent information about a new patient prior to an exam. The overview provides a base home screen for drilling down to more specific patient information.
  • Few dental vendors utilize a comprehensive overview screen in their electronic dental record products.
  • A prototype overview screen has been developed and tested at the University of Pittsburgh.

Schleyer, Titus (2012, July 12) How can we improve the design of electronic dental records (EDR)? Dental Informatics Blog