The iPad™…Dentistry’s Next Great Tech Tool

In today’s fast-paced and demanding world of dentistry, a desktop computer or paper patient chart aren’t always accessible when you need to review patient information moving from room to room, nor is it the most aseptic of means to maintain patient records. Aside from the ‘wow!’ factor that the Apple™ iPad™ provides, the device has loads of potential to facilitate current best office practices.

Simplifying Patient Records

The iPad has the potential in many offices that wish to go paperless to simplify the acquisition of patient information and record taking. Rather than designing, filling out, scanning, and then shredding paper forms, an iPad can be used by patients to complete their intake forms directly on the iPad, and sign their forms with a stylus directly onto the screen. There are more practice management systems being developed with a view to tablet and smartphone integration, such that the use of these devices in dental offices will become more common place within the next few years. They are already becoming more prevalent in medical hospitals.

Patients can also stay productive and up-to-date with their personal lives during their visits should there be any kind of delay before a scheduled appointment time.  They can check their e-mail, surf the Net, read a magazine, all of which helps to emphasize that the dentist is committed to the latest and dental practices.

Patient Communication Tool

Dentists deal with many complex procedures dealing with both cosmetic and prosthodontic dentistry e.g. post-and-cores, crowns, veneers, and implants. The  challenge for a dentist, who will likely have to repeat procedural details multiple times in a day, is to get patients to see what the dentist sees, and to show them what they can do. With an iPad, the dentist can effortlessly display photographs and x-rays to patients during consultations, flipping through images together and illustrating relevant points as they go through a presentation. The iPad becomes a great visual communicator. Patients that have been given more of a visual idea of a particular procedure and a what the outcome could look like, is generally a more informed patient, and one that is more likely to accept proposed, comprehensive treatment. A great example of dental education for an iPad is Dental Demo Suite by Genuitive Inc.

Zoom and Highlight Features

The high resolution (1024 x 768) and zooming features on the iPad allow for excellent image and x-ray resolution and offer the dentist the ability to zero in and focus the attention of the patient on particular parts of an x-ray or image with a simply swipe of one’s fingers to blow up an image to highlight a problem area.

Communicating with your lab

Need to get a quick response from your lab whether or not a tooth could be added to a cast-chromium-cobalt based partial denture? Simply snap a picture of the partial with your iPad (or iPhone) and beam off an e-mail to your lab technician with your question. You’ll likely get a response back before the patient even leaves the office.:)

Maintaining Asepsis

With no keyboards to touch, the iPad is convenient and much easier to maintain asepsis…simply sheath it in a ziploc bag and your good to go!

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