February 1, 2012
by Dr. Christian von Rosenbach
Lise Fabello is one of the lucky ones. Routine screening with UFIT, an advanced vital signs monitoring device, led to the diagnosis of a serious medical condition and may even have saved her life. Although she was feeling unwell for some time, Lise didn’t go to her doctor. It was only when her dentist started tracking her vital signs with UFIT that she learned her blood pressure was dangerously high and needed medical attention.
Regular blood pressure screening recommended
Lise’s story is far from unique and helps to explain why vital signs monitoring is rapidly becoming the standard of care for dental practices today. As our population ages, patients increasingly come to their dental appointments with chronic, and often undiagnosed, medical conditions such as hypertension and diabetes. In fact, nine out of 10 Canadians will eventually develop hypertension,1 the leading risk factor for death and a major cause of strokes, heart attacks, kidney failure and dementia.1,2
Because many people visit their dentist and hygienist more often than their family physician, dental professionals can provide a valuable service by screening their patients for early signs of hypertension and educating them about associated health risks. The link between oral health and general health is clear and some dental associations are now recommending that dentists conduct regular blood pressure readings before starting dental treatment.
HeartFriendly Dentist facilitates vital signs monitoring
Recognizing the growing need for a whole health approach to dentistry, BioAnalytics Inc. recently introduced HeartFriendly Dentist, an innovative program that helps dental professionals integrate vital signs monitoring into their practice routines. HeartFriendly Dentist supplies and supports UFIT, a portable, non-invasive electronic device that takes multiple health measurements in a single reading. The device measures blood pressure, pulse rate average and pulse rate variability, recording pressure changes in the pulse at a rate of 100 data points per second.
Operating with just a click of the button, UFIT is fast, accurate and simple to use. Results are processed immediately and clearly displayed in an easily understood format. UFIT automatically transfers vital sign measurements to the patients’ electronic medical record (EMR), improving record-keeping and providing an up-to-date assessment of the patient’s health status. All data are stored securely to protect patient privacy and can be remotely accessed 24/7. With the patient’s permission, reports can also be shared electronically with other health professionals, facilitating diagnosis and treatment decisions. The software is compatible with most practice management software and services can be customized to the needs of individual dental offices.
Vital signs report educates patients
The HeartFriendly Dentist program also gives dentists an excellent opportunity to educate patients about their oral and general health. The system generates a detailed and customized printed report that provides information about each patient’s vital sign measurements and current state of health. Using clear, simple language, it also defines hypertension and suggests corrective actions patients can take to reduce their health risks.
This informative and visually engaging report is one of the greatest advantages of the HeartFriendly Dentist program. Because the report is personalized to each patient, it captures their attention, gives relevance to the data and motivates them to take action. A compelling and versatile tool, the report helps dentists build rapport with their patients and can be used to explain treatment options and improve treatment acceptance. Each report can also be customized with the name of the dentist’s practice and relevant information, further building patient loyalty. Providing resources to guide patient behaviors and help them make better lifestyle choices is ultimately where the HeartFriendly derives much of its value and why sharing medical information is the cornerstone of the program.
UFIT improves patient care
Dental Health Group (DHG), a 7-dentist group practice in Burlington, is committed to being HeartFriendly and has been using UFIT for over a year. “It was very easy to train staff to use UFIT properly and it takes no extra time in a dental appointment” states Dr. Rod Toms, a partner at DHG. “Our patients really appreciate the fact that we’ve added this extra level of care. UFIT gives us vital insight into the health of our patients and helps us make more informed treatment decisions.”
Vital signs monitoring with UFIT has clear advantages for the modern dental practice:
• Reduces the risk of adverse reactions and medical emergencies
• Helps identify undetected medical conditions, such as hypertension and diabetes
• Automatic self-testing ensures precise, consistent and reliable results
• Readings are time-stamped and tamper-proof to provide a clear audit trail
• Electronic data transfer and automated reminders keep patient records current
• Improves patient awareness of the oral/systemic health connection
Dentists have a responsibility to be proactive in protecting the health of their patients. By promoting vital signs monitoring, the HeartFriendly Dentist program gives dental professionals the tools they need to assess risk, improve treatment and enhance the well-being of the people they care for in their practice. OH
Dr. Christian von Rosenbach is a partner in the Dental Health Group, a two-location, seven-dentist group practice in Burlington, Ontario. He is a member of the American Equilibration Society, the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and currently serves as the Publications Chair of the Canadian Academy of Restorative Dentistry and Prosthodontics. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of HeartFriendly Dentist, a division of BioAnalytics Inc.
1 What is Hypertension? Hypertension Canada Web site. http://www.hypertension.ca/en/what-is-hypertension. Accessed Nov 11, 2011.
2 Hypertension Facts and Figures. Public Health Agency of Canada Web site. http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/cd-mc/cvd-mcv/hypertension_figures-eng.php. Accessed Nov 12, 2012.