The SIU Dental Hygiene Program has been providing quality dental hygiene care for thousands of Southern Illinoisans since 1961 offering SIU students a strong public health emphasis including dental cleanings and cavity preventing sealants to area school children, oral cancer exams, and oral health education. Without our Dental Hygiene clinic, hundreds of adults would have negligible access to dental hygiene care.
As a result of over $100,000 in Green Fund monies awarded in May 2013, the Dental Hygiene Program has made rapid progress moving from a completely paper-based medical/dental record system to a paperless electronic record system with integrated digital radiography (x-rays). Once all aspects of the clinic computers and digital radiology are completely integrated fall 2014, the clinic will be digitalized saving an estimated 240,000 sheets of copied paper per semester as well as the elimination of the x-ray film packets contains silver coated plastic, lead foil, and developing & fixer solutions.
Medical health histories, dental records and digital radiographs are now collected electronically thus removing the heavy use of paper, copying resources and integrating the use of a digital x-ray system. This project will reduce the use of precious resources and eliminate the waste stream of toxic developing chemicals now and many years to come – therefore sustainable. In addition, this electronic medical record system will provide patient involvement in their care by providing a portal for patients to view their dental record and communicate with the dental hygiene student. This will provide students valuable feedback and give patients a sense of ownership and participation in their healthcare.
A collaborative effort between faculty, staff and students enabled this project to become a reality as there was an enormous amount of work to take a complex concept like this to fruition. The dental hygiene faculty and staff and CASA staff worked diligently over the last year to research, purchase, install, learn and integrate the digital records and radiograph systems. The following items were purchased with Green Fund money: 20 computers & carts, specialized dental software, 5 laptops & digital radiograph sensors and security hardware required to protect patient records.