HTML5 iPad App Eases Charting for Dentists

Smile Brands has designed an HTML5-based Web app for use on the iPad to allow dentists to streamline their dental charting and avoid duplicate data entry.

Smile Brands has developed a Web-based iPad app for dentists using Sencha's Touch platform, an end-to-end framework that allows developers to design and deploy HTML5 applications.

The company wanted to build a browser-based application to handle practice management after its paper-based legacy system of capturing clinical information and managing documentation "broke down," said Marlin Clark, vice president of application development for Smile Brands, which aids dental groups by providing nonclinical personnel, facilities and equipment.

Sencha's HTML5 toolset helped Smile Brands create a new practice-management system to support dental practices.

The touch-screen-enabled app, called Touch like the Sencha platform, features a digital representation of a patient's teeth and allows doctors to improve their charting workflow. It offers scheduling capabilities, a guide to available treatment and a way for doctors to interact. The app is also used for billing and revenue cycle management.

Smile Brands used Sencha's Ext JS JavaScript framework to incorporate data-view and grid-panel components into the dental application. Ext JS enabled the app to show a grid-panel layout of a patient's teeth, including crowns.

"When we wanted to build a mobile companion for the primary applications, the ability to port 90 percent of development assets from Ext JS into Sencha Touch framework made it an easy choice," Clark told eWEEK.

Using Ext JS and Touch allowed Smile Brands to replace "green-screen" applications, like those on old text terminals, with a practice-management platform for desktop and mobile devices.

"We've built the core of the application using the Ext JS HTML5 JavaScript framework," Clark said. "We were able to take all of the Java code we wrote, change nothing and build out a mobile application based on all of the browser-based work we had done," Clark said. "Using Ext JS, we were able to take all of those assets and have a mobile application up and running relatively quickly."

Although the application is built using HTML5, it resembles a native app downloaded from iTunes, Clark said.

On the iPad, "when you click to open it, it's launching Safari, but still runs a full screen and seems like a native application," he noted.

As a dentist calls out clinical information while working on a patient, a dental assistant documents the patient visit in the iPad app.

"We needed to introduce an easy way to capture that information as it happens in the exam process," Clark said. "So we introduced a restorative charting application on the iPad to allow them to capture the clinical information that's being dictated by the provider."

Using the app allows dental practices and the third-party support services to avoid errors in transferring information previously written out on paper, Clark explained.

"What's happening in the operatory has to be communicated to the front desk, whether it's scheduling, verifying insurance or doing prior authorization for a potential service," Clark said. "When that's captured electronically, you remove that sense of error."

Dental practices no longer have to re-enter information for the front desk and billing services that assistants now dictate into the practice-management software.

"With the tablet, they're capturing existing conditions, pathology and recommended treatments, all at the same time, and so it helps to take out all of the duplication work," Clark said.

Previously, doctors used one PC to review radiology and digital imaging and another for recording pathological and treatment info. Instead of having the second system on a mobile laptop cart, dentists can use the Sencha Touch app on a tablet, Clark noted.

Smile Brands' Touch app is currently in beta, and the company is considering commercializing it, Clark said.