Dental School Speeds Workflow By Combining Signatures and Magnetic Swipes

John Powers

By John Powers, CEO, Scriptel Corporation.

With two campuses, 17 divisions, and over 500 students in a typical year, the University of Maryland School of Dentistry is a busy place. So busy that on most days it generates more than 500 patient-related electronic documents needing faculty approval.

Approvals are for both prescriptions and treatment plans, and faculty swipe their ID badges to record approval of student recommendations. That approval system is the main reason Eugene Khazanov, assistant director of systems administration and support services, and Galina Arbitman, IT application integration engineer, are pleased about their recent implementation of signature pads at both school’s campuses.

Until about a year and a half ago, the school was exclusively using a competitor’s signature pads for patient registration and chairside approvals. The devices worked well with the school’s AxiUm EHR but did require a special utility to be recognized, an additional task that occasionally involved a security upgrade.

More importantly, the existing pads used chairside had to be used with a separate magnetic swiping device. Juggling a computer, signature pad, and magstripe reader every time a student needed faculty approval and patient consent was unwieldy, to say the least.

Not surprisingly, the new signature pads are more economical than purchasing separate devices, according to Khazanov. The costs of the devices now used at the school’s front desks are lower than the previous devices, too, generating an overall savings of just under $10k. The signature pads are also completely plug-and-play, reducing deployment time because no driver or other software download is necessary.

This feature eliminates issues with devices being moved around. “Ideally, the signature pads are deployed to a certain machine,” says Khazanov, “but students tend to move them around. Sometimes the new computer didn’t recognize the competitor’s pad when it was plugged in.”

Arbitman notes that every signature captured, whether at the front desk or the patient chair, flows directly into a patient-consent attachment in axiUm. “It works great,” she says, adding that it only takes a few seconds to identify the device name in the software to ensure the signature flows to the right place.

Today, the school is using 40 signature pad devices on its Shady Grove campus and 24 devices on its Baltimore campus. An additional 50 signature pads are in use at front desks in Baltimore and 10 in Shady Grove. Some of the original devices are still in use but are being replaced by the new signature pad units as they come out of service. When budgets return to pre-pandemic levels, Khazanov plans to speed up the changeover as part of his effort to continually improve workflow.

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