Mobile App May Help Dentists Triage Emergencies

November 4, 2016
Joe Hannan

A new study analyzed the efficacy of a mobile application that allows patients to report, and dentists to determine the severity of dental emergencies.

Just how serious is your patient’s off-hours emergency?

And how many times have you found yourself asking that question? A new mobile application developed by a team of researchers with the Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University School of Dentistry could provide dentists with a clearer picture of how severe a patient’s after-hours dental emergency is—saving you the guess work and them a trip to the emergency room.

The application was developed through a study, which was published in the October edition of the Journal of the American Dental Association. According to the study, dental emergencies tend to happen when dental offices are closed. This leaves patients with no option except for visiting a local emergency room for pain management. Additionally, the study notes that dentists are often heading into these emergency visits blind, relying only on a patient’s descriptions.

That’s where the mobile app comes in. Here’s how it works. Users are asked a series of questions about their condition, “designed to capture clinically meaningful data,” the study says. Then, using a smart phone camera, the app allows patients to capture intraoral images, then share those images with a dentist.

HealthData Management quotes Thankam Thyvalikakath (DMD, MDS, PhD), senior author of the study, as saying that a dentist on the receiving end of the app would be sent a report from the patient, including his or her questionnaire answers, and the images.

The study notes that so far, testing of the application has been successful.

“All participants were able to complete a report within 4 minutes, and all clinical information was comprehended by users,” the study said.

The study concludes that the combination of high-resolution images and the questionnaire may help dentists gauge the severity of a patient’s condition as well as prepare “necessary treatment resources.”

“This technology allows dentists to assess care remotely when direct patient contact is less practical.”

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