case western reserve university



Case's new dental patient software closes gap between academic, professional office settings

Students at Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine move one step closer to learning in the environment they will encounter in their professional working lives.

The dental school narrowed the gap between the academic dental clinics at Case and the kind of professional, private dental offices students will encounter in the real world by forging an agreement with Software of Excellence to install computer programs that keep track of patient records, student progress and public health trends for research.

The software from the New Zealand-based company also will help the dental school make the transition to a "paperless" environment where students in their clinical cubicles can call up patient information and record new data about patient visits while at the sides of their patients, according John Smolik, director of finance and operation at the Case dental school.

The system's capabilities also enable dental researchers to gather research information about oral health concerns or trends from the patient database that will provide the dental school with the capability then to respond to that information with new research on oral diseases, community education or dental care.

The new software furthers the vision of Jerold Goldberg, dean of the dental school, who envisions redesigning the clinics into simulated private practices to give students the most up-to-date professional training they need to succeed as dental doctors.

According to Ronald Occhionero, associate dean of administration for the dental school, keeping track of patient records is a monumental task with the 52,000 annual patient visits with undergraduate and graduate dental students, 12,000 visits to pediatric clinic in Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital and the 10,000 school children seen through Case's Healthy Smiles Sealant Program in the Cleveland Public School.

The dental school's software-developed on campus in 1989 when no dental software existed and updated over the years, served the dental school well over the years, but no longer can handle all the needs of the school, said Occhionero.

Last year, the dental school implemented patient care coordinators, who function much like the dental office receptionist in scheduling and keeping track of patient visits to the 140 undergraduate dental students. Patient care coordinators also work with student and faculty dentists organized into mini dental units within the larger clinics.

After a 10-month search for the appropriate software package, the dental school will spend $500,000 for the system and its installation, according to Smolik. He saw the software system in operation at the University of California, Los Angeles dental school. Temple University also has acquired the system for its school.

"The Case School of Dental Medicine brings to our list of dental school users a prestigious and forward thinking group of people who will play a significant part in our goal of continuing to meet the ever-expanding needs of the U.S. dental school market," said Robert J. Beck, executive vice president of Software of Excellence. The dental software company over the past 15 years has served 5,000 clients in 15 countries.

One of the difficulties in finding the appropriate software is that with only 57 dental schools in the United States, only a handful of companies have developed software for dental schools, said Smolik.

He added that over the past years, the dental school began its move towards a paperless environment by using computer programs that were "homegrown," but the work by students and faculty at the dental school had exceeded the capabilities of current software.


About Case Western Reserve University

Case is among the nation's leading research institutions. Founded in 1826 and shaped by the unique merger of the Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University, Case is distinguished by its strengths in education, research, service, and experiential learning. Located in Cleveland, Case offers nationally recognized programs in the Arts and Sciences, Dental Medicine, Engineering, Law, Management, Medicine, Nursing, and Social Work.