No paper chase

Dental clinics move to electronic records system

After two years of planning and six months of testing, the School of Dental Medicine’s clinics went online this summer with a comprehensive, integrated computer system that promises to help streamline the school’s clinical and business operations.

Taryn Jirousek, D05, works with the new computer system in the dental clinic. © Kathleen Dooher

“This system will make patient records always available and always legible,” said Dr. James Hanley, assistant professor of periodontology.

As an added bonus, the information managed by the system will create a “tremendous database for dental research—perhaps one of the best databases in the country,” Hanley noted.

Hanley and other faculty helped plan the Axium system’s clinical applications, which were piloted in one clinic group practice. In the pilot, computer-savvy students adapted quickly to the new system and often were seen instructing faculty on the system’s finer points.

The homepage depicts a colorful waiting room, with a few links. For instance, a click on the rolodex on the receptionist’s desk brings up the user’s own address book of patients.

Access to the system is via at least two passwords; several security checks are built in, including an identification card swipe system that allows designated faculty to review a student’s records and sign off on or correct what’s there.

The patient records include release forms the patient will be able to sign electronically. The records include large pictures of different teeth that can be electronically turned and colored in, serving as a teaching tool for patients and students. And they include, of course, all the charts, medical history forms and room for notes that a paper record file would have. Eventually, all X-rays also will be scanned into the patient records.

The new system lives on about 400 computer terminals in the dental clinics.