15 Apr A History of Dental Technology – part 8 – PMS and Paperless FP17
A dental history in 8 technologies – part 8
Dentistry has changed in the 150-years or so since it became a widely understood, regulated medical profession. But some of the technologies we use today would be unrecognisable to 19th-century dentists. During that time, procedures, materials technologies, microbiology and electronics have all interacted to create increasingly cleaver instruments, tools, gadgets and procedures for dentists.
Following our well-received article on ‘Coal Fired Dentistry‘, we thought we’d take a quick look at some of the key the technologies we take for granted every day.
PMS and the Paperless FP17
Dentists and dental nurses usually become dental professionals because they like helping patients with their oral health. Some of them may also be excited by the technology and engineering involved, and the complexity of the chemicals and materials used in restorations. We are yet to meet one who became a dental professional because they like doing paperwork. Yet dentistry requires a LOT of paperwork.
When IBM launched its model 5150 in 1981 it sparked a revolution in the availability of business computers and the way they were used. Running the Microsoft DOS operating system, the 5150 was universally known as the ‘IBM PC’. The arrival of the IBM-PC (and clones from Compaq, Hewlett-Packard and eventually myriad others) meant that for the first time, just about every business could afford an effective, useful and user-friendly computer in their office.
As PCs became increasingly popular and capable, so more an more, and different sorts of businesses began using them. Almost inevitably, the PC found its way into the dental practice.
PCs and dental practices
Many dentists started using productivity tools, such as Microsoft Office, first announced in 1988. And the following year, the first internationally successful application for dental practice management was born with the founding of Software of Excellence (SOE). The company its practice management system (PMS), ‘Exact V4’, in 1993, introducing basic charting and appointment booking. Exact came to the UK in 1994 and became the UK’s biggest-selling PMS in 2009.
Another global player originated as part of the Kodak Health Group – famous for cameras, film technology and medical imaging. This was sold to Onex Corporation creating Carestream. Its PMS, R/4, is just one of a wide range of technology and imaging products, including X-Ray systems and digital scanners. In 2017, Carestream Health sold its ‘Dental Digital’ business to CareCapital Advisors Limited.
These two leading protagonists in the PMS international market have somewhat different approaches to their systems and marketing, though both are often keen to bundle their software with other products (imaging systems, or in the case of SOE Exact, consumables and materials). Neither of them originates in the UK, so both had to add NHS functionality to make them usable in mixed practices.
They also have different feature sets and approaches to navigation, leading Exact to be popular with dentists who find it easy to use for their requirements, whereas R/4 is generally a hit with nurses who find it easier to navigate to retrieve the information they need.
The Pearl family of PMS also started in the 1990s with Paul Baker offering to computerise some of the admin and form filling that his Dentist had to do. Paul developed his system adding more functions and features, and eventually creating a packaged product that he sold through his software business (Baker Heath Associates Ltd) under the Pearl name.
When Paul retired and the business was taken on by his son Ben, they decided to modernise the underlying architecture to make Pearl Dental Software the most up-to-date PMS on the UK market. Ben also wanted to focus Pearl on the ‘patient journey’, making every part of that process equally easy, efficient and effective for every team member.
Pearl now includes waiting room convenience features (run through the PearlTab modules), remote back-office and data management, and functions and charting for orthodontics, periodontics and other specialist treatments.
Pearl Dental Software is now the 3rd or 4th biggest selling dental PMS in the UK (depending on how and by whom the counting is done). It includes complex charting with multiple options, flexible diaries and booking systems, recall and reminder function, and more, and is designed around the patient journey, supporting every part of the practice team. Like all the best systems, Pearl is also easily interfaced to other systems such as imaging and CEREC devices.
The NHS and Pearl
As the NHS pushes ahead with digitisation and new contracts, dentists are soon going to be required to submit FP17 forms electronically. Pearl makes this possible today and is structured to allow future NHS-led developments such as the possible implementation of SNOMED CT or future changes to the dental contract.
Pearl Dental Software is designed to make the smooth and efficient running of your practice easier. This includes excellent diary management features that not only keep your practice busy, integration to referral systems and day list reporting designed to make it easy for your nurses to plan their instrument management and serialisation procedures through the day.