Making PM and DR systems “talk”

What if I told you that while one of my front-desk team members was working in our practice-management system recently, she clicked on a window at the bottom right of the screen and automatically displayed the most recent FMX series taken on the patient whose record she was working on .

What if I told you that while one of my front-desk team members was working in our practice-management system recently, she clicked on a window at the bottom right of the screen and automatically displayed the most recent FMX series taken on the patient whose record she was working on ... directly from our digital X-ray system? And what if I told you that the two systems are manufactured by different vendors, and by conventional standards have no business “talking” to each other?

Let me give you some background on this unusual occurrence. My philosophy in acquiring new technology for my dental practice is to purchase the best and most advanced technology available. I make my decisions based on how well the product does what it’s designed to do, and nothing else. I don’t make my selection based on price, and I don’t consider issues not directly related to the performance of the technology.

I chose the Dentrix® practice-management system because I felt it was the best for my practice, and I chose the DEXIS® digital radiography system for the same reason. However, among the issues that arose when I was making these purchase decisions was the issue of compatibility. Could I easily import images from the digital radiography system into the practice-management system? Could practice-management information and digital radiography images be brought together when, for instance, a team member was communicating electronically, via e-mail, with an insurance company or a referring dentist?

I won’t tell you that I ignored these compatibility issues, but I will say they were not “deal-breakers” - I wanted the best of both technologies. I gathered enough information about compatibility to know that my team and I could make the systems work together.

Recently, however, those compatibility questions disappeared for good. Whatever issues may have existed in the past between different vendors’ versions of these two critical dental technologies have been laid to rest with the release of the Integrator by DEXIS. The Integrator is a software module that makes the DEXIS digital X-ray system fully compatible with every major practice-management system on the market.

The module allows dental practices to display thumbnails of available X-rays and photographic images in a pop-up window within whatever practice-management system is installed. This window is automatically synchronized with the records of the patient selected from the practice-management system. My team and I can have direct and immediate one-click access to all digital images associated with a given patient’s records.

The module can display four types of digital images: intraoral X-rays, extraoral (panoramic and cephalometric) X-rays, intraoral photographic images, and extraoral photographic images. When you click on the Integrator window within your practice-management system, you automatically gain access to state-of-the-art image viewing and enhancement capabilities. Clicking on a thumbnail image, for instance, will show an enlarged view of the image in the DEXview image viewer. Users can also use the DEXIS ClearVu program to change brightness and contrast and to sharpen the image. DEXIS QuickLaunch can be used right from the Integrator to take advantage of the features in the imaging software and to acquire new images.

The Integrator window can be sized and positioned so that it best fits into the screen layout of any practice-management software. Once configured, the window will always be displayed in the same position and size. The Integrator is available for use with more than 90 percent of the practice-management systems installed today, including Dentrix, Softdent, Eaglesoft, Practice Works, and Easy Dental.

Although my team and I could share images between our digital radiography and practice-management systems prior to this innovation, the new software enhancement makes sharing even easier. In terms of keystrokes and mouse clicks, using the Integrator software is actually quicker and more economical to access and display digital X-rays and other images than it was within the practice-management system itself.

This new module is an elegant solution to a previously pesky problem - the payoff when a company listens to its customers when enhancing its product. The bottom line? Dentists no longer need to consider compatibility issues when purchasing the best digital radiography and practice-management systems to fit their practices.

Dr. Cynthia Brattesani maintains a private practice in San Francisco. She won the prestigious ADA Golden Apple New Dentist Leadership Award in 1996. She is an enthusiastic member of organized dentistry, having held positions at the local, state, and national levels. You may reach her at info@drcynthiab.com.

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