Latest Dental Technology Centers on the Patient

When some of the dental industry’s leading users of technology were interviewed about what products they use, a few patient-centered themes emerged. Features that are hot items in dental offices of today include remote access through cloud-based software, mobile websites, wireless technology, and hands free data entry. All of these need to be a part of, or able to seamlessly integrate with your practice management software.

Dentists who travel frequently or see emergencies find that remote access to patient records and scheduling is essential. Three options that allow for this are Carestream Practice Expert and Reporting Library (PEARL), Dentrix Mobile, and Curve Dental. Despite some practitioners’ concerns about business continuity with completely cloud-based systems in the event of an internet outage, Dr. Mark Colonna of Whitefish, Montana was able to demonstrate the advantage of using his Curve cloud based system. During a recent power outage, the practice was still able to access data and check people out from a mobile device.

Mobile web sites have become more important as clients shift from desktop computers to cell phones and tablet devices. For client communication purposes, Patterson’s Clinically Advanced Education Systems (CAESY) makes client education available from a mobile site. Dr. Dan Strobel, a third generation dentist based in downtown Chicago, found that mobile websites are effective in targeting the young professionals they seek to attract as patients. One key concern in these implementations is the need to protect patient information and follow HIPAA regulations. Email is not a secure way to communicate with patients; a HIPAA-compliant patient portal can alleviate legal and patient concerns.

Patient needs were also a factor for Dr. Treva Willis, of Smile Design Studio in Maryland, in selecting XLDent practice management software for its wireless use of tablet technology:

‘The ability to use the software on a tablet is great because it affords mobility with the ease of using a ‘pen’ to fill out forms for patients. It was important for us to accommodate all our patients with our technology, while avoiding intimidating them with it. XLDent in my opinion achieves this goal.’

In addition to digital forms and electronic signatures, XLDent’s other  user-centered features include built in email and text reminders, interoperability with most imaging sensors, movable panels, and patient summary screens.

Finally, hands free data entry continues to gain friends in the dental operatory. Dental hygienist Wendy Profit uses the foot operated Beckmer Dental R.A.T. for perio charting. She particularly likes the new oral feedback feature that assures she has entered the right information without having to consult the screen. Kansas dentist Dr. Bill Busch uses LiveScribe with his Dentrix system for recording and transcribing notes from patient interviews, staff meetings, and presentations of treatment plans. This allows him to make eye contact with the patient . . . rather than his computer screen.

Lessons Learned:

  • Some of today’s most in-demand technology in dental practices supports remote access, mobile websites, wireless devices, and hands free data entry. Make sure these features are part of, or able to integrate with, your practice management system.
  • Mobile websites and client education options appeal to younger clients who will continue to grow your practice in the future.
  • Wireless technology supports the integration of tablets and mobile imaging units that are less intimidating for patients.
  • Options for hands free data entry continue to gain popularity in the dental field.

Anonymous (2012, May 14) Personal Technology Goes Pro. Dental Products Report.