Patient Communication: The Right Information, Right When You Need It

Keeping the patient and dentist on the same page is critical. Patient education continues to develop, and intraoral cameras combined with flat-panel monitors help create integrated communication systems that make chair-side patient communication effortless. As the importance of patient communication and education rises, so does the need for technology that facilitates these interactions in an efficient manner. Advanced intraoral cameras are one of the dental devices that help facilitate this flow of information. Using an intraoral camera allows patients to better recognize their specific dental needs by seeing what the dentist sees and understanding the diagnosis. Visually educating patients about their specific concerns then allows the practitioner to inform and involve patients in their own procedures.

The design and quality of dental intraoral cameras has advanced dramatically over the past few years as the demand for the cameras has increased. Approximately 63% of all practitioners are using intraoral cameras.* The functions of an intraoral camera are immense—patient education, cosmetic case presentation, diagnosis, documentation, lab communication, treatment planning, marketing, etc. With an intraoral camera, dentists can easily communicate the patient’s needs on the spot and involve them instantly in the diagnosis and treatment plan. The intraoral camera quickly, and with pristine quality, shows the patient exactly what is occurring inside the oral cavity.

Because the intraoral camera generates images that are stored, enlarged, and analyzed, often dental problems are discovered in the early stages. Sometimes even problems that dentists might otherwise miss with a visual examination are discovered. Once treatment options are discussed and agreed upon, intraoral cameras can then be used to effectively track the treatment progress.**

Capturing intraoral images typically requires integration between the intraoral camera, a flat-panel monitor and a networked CPU within the dental practice. The flat-panel monitor facilitates simple patient education and communication by providing the capability to integrate digital imaging software, patient records, practice management software, and even entertainment all into the dental operatory. With an integrated patient communication system, patient education and communication become seamless.

By using an integrated patient communication system, dentists acquire an invaluable aide for building the confidence of their patients. Integration with practice-management software through the office network allows the dentist to manipulate images, access patient history and files, and provide a comprehensive view of the treatment plan to guide patient expectations and streamline office management. In addition to promoting better doctor-patient communication, an integrated patient communication system creates a critical link between front-office administration and the dental operatories.

*Source: August 2003 DPR Clinical Photography Survey