Dental Web site wins UT System innovation award
Three individuals from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Dental School were awarded second prize at the UT System’s sixth annual Innovations in Health Science Education Conference held in February in Austin, Texas.
Joseph P. Connor, D.D.S., M.A., assistant professor of restorative dentistry, Gary F. Guest, D.D.S., assistant dean for predoctoral clinics, and Richard Ongkiko, database administrator, shared the award for their project titled, “Development and Implementation of an Online Screening Application at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio Dental School.”
Web site efficiently matches students with patients
The goal of the Web site is to relieve the telephone bottleneck that existed in the Dental School for accepting and scheduling dental patients for screenings, and to match patients and students with greater accuracy.
“Matching students who need specific clinical experience with patients who have a specific dental problem has been a longstanding problem at this and other dental schools,” Dr. Connor explained. “This can be very stressful for students.”
To facilitate this process, patients are asked to assess their own need for dental treatment by filling out an online form on the Web page. This information is used by dental faculty and students to more accurately match students and patients.
1,000 patients register each month through the Web site
Dr. Connor began the project in 2006 as a quality improvement project and it has been evolving to meet new needs ever since. The first version of the Web page was initiated in 2007, and immediately an average of 15 patients a day began signing up for screening appointments. “We now have up to 1,000 patients a month signing up and we have more than 15,000 patients in the database of available patients,” Dr. Connor said.
Patient database promotes dental research
The Web site also will make is possible to recruit patients for dental research studies. “We are now able to recruit patients outside of the university,” Connor said.
Web site a model for other dental schools
Since Dr. Connor has presented the Web site, www.dentalscreening.com, at the Technology Expo of the American Dental Education Association's meeting in 2007, several dental schools have contacted him about how to set up a similar Web-based screening tool. “Currently, the University of Texas Dental Branch Houston and University of Tennessee Dental School have set up similar Web sites based on the work that was accomplished here,” Dr. Connor said. “Howard University, Michigan, the University of Missouri at Kansas City, Baylor University and others have expressed interest in starting their own online patient registration process.”
Dr. Connor said the $5,000 prize will be reinvested in improvements and continuing innovations for the Web page project.
First prize went to UT Southwestern’s Nora Gimpel, M.D., for her presentation, “Community Medicine Education and Research Training: An Innovative Pipeline for Future Primary Care Physicians.” Third place was awarded Marianne T. Marcus, Ed.D., RN, FAAN, Wendell C. Taylor, Ph.D., M.P.H., and Mark D. Hormann, M.D., of the UT Health Science Center Houston for “Interprofessional Community-Based Service-Learning Course.”
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