Using the iPad to Optimize Your Practice

My stance has always been that we are not in the dentistry profession working with people but rather working with people providing dentistry. Therefore, “connecting” with patients is key—day in and day out.

How do we connect? We ask insightful questions, provide clear explanations, and relate with sincerity. Patients don’t remember necessarily what you said but rather how you make them feel. This creates loyalty as we are developing relationships, and from that, deep mutual trust and respect develops. As a result, patients will follow and accept your treatment advice. This to me is the highest of priorities. —Dr. Cynthia Brattesani

It might seem contrary that technology, which is often derided as something that keeps us from genuine face-to-face interactions with others, can help doctors connect with patients. But it’s true.

Smart devices, and in particular the iPad, are allowing dental teams to share information with patients in a more user-friendly, engaging way. From the three-year-old who’s entertained on the plane to the business executive presenting in the boardroom, the iPad and its endless supply of apps have changed the way we play, and it can change the way we work. It’s called a “smart” device for a reason.It will optimize care and streamline the workflow in every room of your dental practice.

Reception Area

Patients cultivate their opinion of your practice in the reception area. Use of an iPad can enhance every part of their experience here from the check-in and required paperwork completion to their entertainment and comfort during any waiting time.

  • At check-in: Replace “old school” paper and clipboard and have patients complete forms on the iPad, which are imported into DENTRIX from the practice Web site or iPad, with a few clicks.
    Apps Needed: Dentrix Kiosk
  • Self-service consent forms: Forms can be set with required fields that expire after a pre-determined amount of time, ensuring that data is current.
    Apps Needed: Dentrix Kiosk 
  • Check-in alerts operatory staff: The appointment status in the Dentrix Appointment Book is automatically updated to indicate that the patient has completed the forms and is readyfor the operatory.
    Apps Needed: Dentrix Kiosk
  • As patients wait: Provide wi-fi, branded to your practice. Give patients an iPad loaded with digital magazines and newspapers, games, videos, social networking apps like Facebook and Foursquare, where they can “check in.” Dental care videos can also be provided as a service to patients through Guru.
    Apps Needed: Flipboard, Foursquare, Facebook, NetFlix, Guru

Treatment Rooms/Consultation Room

Pictures are worth a thousand words, and are an excellent catalyst for conversation between doctor and patient. This“co-discovery” opens up conversation ata whole different level, sealing the message and fulfilling expectations for doctor and patient.

  • Display 3-D videos and interactive demos: Explain diagnoses and treatment plans and give patients a superior level of understanding.
    Apps Needed: Guru
  • Put digital X-rays into patients’ hands: Enlarge or zoom in to images while sharing your diagnosis with patients as they hold an iPad in their laps. Choose from several iPad apps that can remotely access the computer that houses the DENTRIX image software.
    Apps Needed: Splashtop, iTeleport, or Jump Desktop
  • Patient file photos: Use the iPad or another digital camera for non-clinical patient photos. Patients find it fun and intriguing—and it’s less intimidating for some. Several iPad apps allow you to upload photos that can be viewed on all Apple devices in the office.
    Apps Needed – Apple IOS 5 / iCloud or Dropbox

Practice Administration

Behind the Scenes – Staff Meetings
The iPad brings a powerful tool into your daily meetings, giving you the opportunity to present practice updates and patient information to the team, while also collaborating with them on patient care.

  • Daily Huddle Reports: Exported from Dentrix to a PDF. Using iAnnotate, review and make notes on the iPad with the entire dental team to show progress made toward monthly goals and maintain a focus on improving patient care.
    Apps Needed: Dropbox, iAnnotate
  • Practice Advisor Reports: Export from Dentrix to a PDF and display on an iPad to give management team or entire office a glimpse of the financial health of the practice and overall performance data.
    Apps Needed: Dropbox, iAnnotate
  • Create a survey to answer questions about that day’s patient load in the huddle then store the document in the cloud for easy access by the entire team.
    Apps needed: Dentrix Kiosk

Potential questions to address in huddle:

  • Who is coming in? New patient or existing?
  • Who referred them? (Helps to remember who they are.)
  • Any recent referrals to thank themfor today?
  • Any medical history alerts?
  • What will we perform as treatment today?
  • What treatment is pending?
  • Did we receive correspondence form/report from a specialist?
  • Do we have any personal photos/announcements (new baby, marriage, announcement of new job, postcardfrom travel)?
  • Eligible for FMX X-rays?
  • Any pending balances or billing issues?
  • Any specific notes about today’s appointments?

Appointment Management

Dentrix Mobile streamlines many processes for practice staff in scheduling appointments and keeping in touch with patients. Reminders and frequent contact with patients keep your office top of mind and provide them with a convenient service as well.

The Dentrix Appointment Book can be viewed, appointments confirmed, and notes added. Confirmations and notes are updated automatically in Dentrix.

  • Postcards are automatically generated, reminding patients of a scheduled appointment. It includes a QR code so patients can use a smart phone or iPad to see appointment details, confirm the appointment, add the appointment to a calendar, and even get directions. Requires eCentral Communication Manager.
  • Research drugs listed in patient medical history and drug interactions with dental treatment ( Create an app for the Lexipro website on the iPad home screen by opening the Web site, clicking on the icon with the arrow in the top right and selecting, “Add to Home Screen.”
  • Search for insurance codes and for narratives to submit insurance claims (www.
    Apps Needed: Dentrix Kiosk

Access on the Go

Even away from the practice, Dentrix Mobile allows doctors or on-call team members to view appointment and patient information and add notes and updates remotely using a mobile device.

  • Appointment schedules: View remotely to plan for the following day or call patients if appointments need to be rescheduled.
  • Patient notes: Add remotely to the Dentrix Appointment Book specific to a certain day or appointment using an iPad or Xoom tablet.
  • Appointment confirmations: Update remotely using an iPad or Xoom by teams calling patients after hours or outside of the practice. The confirmations are automatically updated in DENTRIX. Requires eCentral Communication Manager.
  • Patient prescription history: Ensure the doctor or on-call team member has the correct information if the patient calls requesting a new prescription.
  • Patient eligibility status: Update or verify eligibility remotely. Requires eCentral Insurance Manager
    Apps Needed: Dentrix mobile

Getting Started

Basic Apps You’ll Want
Two of the iPad’s most powerful benefits are its ability to share information in the cloud and with other mobile devices seamlessly and the 90,000+ iPad-specific apps available in the Apple App Store! With so many to choose from, it’s difficult to know where to begin. Here are a few apps you should load to get started.

App Store Apps

  • Guru for iPad provides educational tools that can be used to connect with patients. High-definition videos, animations, and diagrams can be used to help to explain procedures. Guru is available as a complimentary download and connects to the Guru Server products.
  • iTeleport: VNC or Jump Desktop (Remote Desktop) – Access a stand-alone computer in your practice remotely and display its information on an iPad in another part of the practice. iTeleport works with VNC and requires that VNC be configured on the computer that you are connecting to. Jump Desktop will allow you to connect to Remote Desktop, the built-in Windows remote-connection software.
  • Facebook for iPad: Install the native Facebook app on your iPad to allow users to connect directly to Facebook. If multiple team members access the app, encourage each user to log out when they are done.
  • Penultimate: Are you using your iPad to take notes at your practice? The iPad equivalent of a pad of paper is Penultimate. If you don’t have a stylus, Penultimate provides a great reason to try one out.
  • iAnnotate: iAnnotate provides the ability to annotate PDF documents with notes and comments, which allows for team collaboration and sharing. To view and read PDFs only, download Adobe Reader.
  • iWork: Pages, Numbers, Keynote: If you have a Mac in your practice and use Apple’s iWork suite of apps, Pages, Numbers, and Keynote are all available as native apps on the iPad.
  • Documents To Go – Office Suite: If you use Microsoft Word and Excel, Documents To Go provides a subset of the editing capabilities for the iPad. Open and edit Office documents right on your iPad and get some work done.
  • iBooks: Apple’s eBook reader and store are not installed by default on the iPad, but are a available as a complimentary downloaded from the App Store.
  • Netflix: Does your practice have a Netflix streaming account? Install the Netflix app and allow patients to watch movies and TV shows on demand as they wait.
  • Dragon Dictation: Dictate a note using the popular Dragon Dictation app and copyand paste the resulting text into an email or other apps. In the future, we may see Siri Personal Assistant, the voice recognition software debuted on the iPhone 4s, available on the iPad. For now, third-party dictation apps accomplish simple dictation.
  • The Daily: Looking for news on the iPad? The Daily is a news app created specifically for iPad. It’s an immersive news experience similar to news magazines but with more interaction.
  • Evernote: Another note-taking app that allows you to store videos, links, reminders and more in easy-to organize notes. Take notes on any device and view and edit them on another. Evernote provides cloud-based note management.
  • GoodReader for iPad: Connect to a server location via FTP, Dropbox, or several other cloud-based services and open and view items right on your iPad.
  • Dropbox: Share files and collaborate practice information over the cloud, a particular strength of the iPad. If you want to easily move files between devices, move them into your Dropbox location and view them on your other devices.
  • Google: This shortcut to all things Google allows you to access Gmail, Google Docs, photo sharing, YouTube, and more.

Web Apps

Dentrix Mobile – Giving you the power of Dentrix on mobile devices Dentrix customers can access the powerful benefits of their practice-management software while they’re away from the office with Dentrix Mobile. Available for devices like iPhone, iPad, Palm Pre, Android and select BlackBerry models, Dentrix Mobile is part of regular customer service plans, and maximizes your time in and out of the office. Some of the most common tasks that can be done while on–the-go include:

  • Access patient data, contact information, appointment history, and more, 24/7
  • Verify patient prescriptions while out of the office
  • View upcoming appointments for you and your providers
  • Deliver real-time updates for on-call teams
  • Search by patient or provider with extremely simple but powerful search and navigation functions

Taking the steps to integrate devices like the iPad into your practice can provide productivity improvements, improved patient engagement, and an edge on your competition. It would be a daunting taskif you had to figure it out on your own, but you don’t. Contact your Henry Schein Technology Representative to help you take the first step toward introducing mobile devices into your practice.

Article Contributors:
Dr. Cynthia Brattesani; William Weldes, Centare Group; John A. DeToro, Techteriors.

This article was originally published in Sidekick Magazine.