A prototype mobile application for triaging dental emergencies
Evidence suggests that dental emergencies are likely to occur when preferred care is less accessible. Communication barriers often exist that cause patients to receive suboptimal treatment or experience discomfort for extended lengths of time. Furthermore, limitations in the conventional approach for managing dental emergencies prevent dentists from receiving critical information before patient visits.
The authors developed a mobile application to mediate the uncertainty of dental emergencies. The development and study consisted of a needs analysis and quality assessment of intraoral images captured by smartphones, prototype development, refining the prototype through usability inspection methods, and formative evaluation through usability testing with prospective users.
The developed application successfully guided all users through a series of questions designed to capture clinically meaningful data by using familiar smartphone functions. All participants were able to complete a report within 4 minutes, and all clinical information was comprehended by the users.
Patient-provided information accompanied by high-resolution images may help dentists substantially in predicting urgency or preparing necessary treatment resources. The results illustrate the feasibility of patients using smartphone applications to report dental emergencies. This technology allows dentists to assess care remotely when direct patient contact is less practical.
This study’s results demonstrate that patients can use mobile applications to transmit clinical data to their dentists and suggest the possibility of expanding the use of mobile applications to enhance access to routine and emergency dental care. The authors addressed how to enable patients to communicate emergency needs directly to a dentist while obviating patient emergency department visits.