By Tanya Stein, RDH, BS, BA
I can’t tell you how many times patients have asked me if I make “house calls.” I’m sure most of you have had similar requests. On one hand, it’s a compliment. On the other hand, I hear it as a cry for help. I feel patients are really saying, “Please come home and help me, because I can’t remember/can’t do this by myself, and I want to be compliant.”
As much as patients want to comply with the home care regime we’ve prescribed, the truth is that they walk out the door and forget. Even suggestions written down on paper are lost within days. Once the information is forgotten, the motivation is lost, and the patient is no longer confident in what they should be doing.
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Instead of being excited about returning for their next recall appointment, they are not. Noncompliance can mean active infection, which translates into uncomfortable scaling and possibly a conversation about why things look the way they do. It’s a lose-lose for both patient and hygienist.
Some patients will take initiative to research some of those golden nuggets of knowledge. They do what we all do and search the web, which can be helpful if the patient remembers the technique or tool you wanted them to use. But your instructions could also differ greatly from the information found online, defeating your efforts to help improve their oral health.
This is where mobile technology can be of service. The invention of the “mobile app” as it pertains to the nongaming world has changed the way we interact with one another and do business. I like to think of them as self-contained digital storage units that live on our mobile devices. It houses a multitude of business specific information and services, thus eliminating the need for web searches and other time-consuming functions. Implementing this technology into a dental setting is a great solution for making sure patients can effortlessly access the correct information, instructions, and services as it pertains to their treatment.
Dental Anywhere Mobile Appsis a company that specializes in custom mobile apps for dental offices. Just as every patient has different needs, so does every office. While the business side of dentistry is pretty consistent, the services, techniques, philosophies, instruction, etc., vary. Everyone “does dentistry” a little different. Dental Anywhere’s products reflect this by way of modules or “compartments” in the app. I mention this because the apps they create house a module or “compartment” called “Hygiene Help,” which is perfect for supporting patients’ efforts to stay compliant between appointments.
“Hygiene Help” is the hygienists answer to lost or forgotten homecare instruction. This module reinforces and reiterates the OHI we spend time going over in the chair. Patients open the app at anytime anywhere, locate “Hygiene Help” and extract the information they need to be compliant with our suggestions.
As a hygienist, I know we want all our patients to be disease free, as do they. As much as we would like to make “house calls” and appease those cries for dental help, it’s not realistic. On the other hand, implementing mobile technology is. With an app, we can still offer patients support, direction and help at their home or on vacation. It can make a difference for both the health of the patient and not to mention the health of our hands.
Tanya Stein, RDH, BS, BA, has over 20 years of experience in dentistry, technology, and marketing. In 2009 and 2010 she was selected as the Hygiene Representative for the California Dental Association Allied Health Professional Task Force. In May 2010, Tanya joined her brother, Michael Stein, CEO of Dental Anywhere Mobile Apps after he proposed that she consult for his company. She can be contacted at [email protected].