Background. Information technology, or IT, applications for dental practice continue to develop rapidly. More than 85 percent of all dentists use computers in their offices, and the number of clinical uses for the computer is on the rise. This article discusses the state of the art of several technologies, provides an integrative view of a technologically well-equipped office and offers several guidelines for technology purchasing decisions. Conclusions. Most administrative applications are relatively mature and are required for the smooth functioning of today's dental offices. Clinical applications - such as dental and medical health histories, charting, digital imaging, diagnostic and treatment applications, and decision support - vary in their degree of maturity. Most Internet applications - such as Internet-based scheduling and e-mail communication with patients - still are an optional adjunct for dental practices. Practice Implications. Practitioners should develop a comprehensive plan for implementing or updating the IT infrastructure in their offices. Issues to be considered in technology purchasing decisions include usability, integration, work flow support, cost-benefit analysis and compliance with standards.
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