Web-based services make sharing dental data safer

2011 08 01 10 12 17 961 Cloud Computing 70

Two start-ups new to the dental field are leveraging their expertise in software development and cloud computing to create online tools for secure data and image sharing.

Dental Sharing and RecordLinc both offer Web-based services that they say can streamline and improve the way dental practices handle consultations and referrals and ensure HIPAA compliance in the process.

Dental Sharing was founded in June 2010 by Glenn Godart, DMD; Anthony Bonanno, a 40-year veteran of the financial industry; and Peter Macnee, who has 25 years of experience in the Internet and telecom industries, specializing in Web-based consumer imaging services.

In 2008, Dr. Godart identified "an inconsistency in the dental community's move to digital radiography while maintaining many of the analog practices, resulting in inefficiencies and extraneous costs related to the handling and sharing of digital images," according to the company website. This prompted him to develop a method for dentists to safely share and store digital dental images.

“We are trying to satisfy, in a HIPAA-compliant manner, how the dental community shares digital x-rays.”
— Anthony Bonanno, Dental Sharing

"For years I struggled in my practice with a convenient means to transfer digital x-rays to colleagues and specialists needing x-rays of my patients," Dr. Godart said. "My administrators spent an untold amount of time [on this], taking them away from revenue-producing activities. Knowing that pressure is mounting to manage patient information in compliance with HIPAA, I knew with good technology we could find an efficient and easy solution to this problem."

Dental Sharing launched its proprietary digital image sharing service in October 2010. The service allows dentists to store, share, and manage digital dental x-rays and photographic images in a secure, user friendly format. The company ensures HIPAA compliance by using 128-bit SSL connection, automatic timeout features, unique user names with password protection, data encryption, cloud storage with multiple data backups, and extensive user audit trails.

"We are trying to satisfy, in a HIPAA-compliant manner, how the dental community shares digital x-rays," Bonanno said. "In today's world, the dental field shares x-rays in a variety of ways, primarily through email, which is not HIPAA-compliant."

Dental Sharing uses a subscriber-based model, eliminating the need for any additional hardware or software beyond the subscriber's current office environment, he added. The following are the system requirements:

  • Windows 2000 or later
  • Mac OS 10.4 or later
  • Internet Explorer 7 or later
  • Firefox 3.x and up
  • Safari 2.4 and up
  • Adobe Flash Player 10.1 or higher preferred, but not required

"Our service allows the subscriber to upload a digital x-ray into our website and then share with the desired recipient," Bonanno said. "For the share to take place, the person initiating the share must be a paid subscriber, but the recipient doesn't need to be a subscriber. They can receive the image, they just can't reshare it."

The cost for this service is $399 per year, although a first-year discount of $299 is available that is good until December 31, 2011, and a 30-day free trial period. To register, users go to the Dental Sharing website and fill out the registration form; registration requires the subscriber's name, dental practice name, address, phone number, and email address.

Users can sign up as an individual, a network (such as a specialist working with 15 dentists in a referral network), or through one of Dental Sharing's alliances, such as the company's new relationship with Suni Medical Imaging, announced last month. The company is now working to create similar partnerships with other imaging equipment vendors, according to Bonanno.

"What our relationship with Suni and other imaging companies allows us to do is create larger networks," he said. "We have allowed Suni to embed our system in their software. So a Suni client signs up, pays the fee, and they have on their desktop a 'share' button."

More sharing, with a twist

RecordLinc is taking a slightly different approach to digital data sharing for dentists, adding a professional social component that the developers say sets the service apart.

The company was actually founded seven years ago by Gregory Burnett, DDS, an orthodontist practicing in Los Gatos, CA; William Bohannan, DDS, MD, an oral surgeon practicing in San Jose and Burlingame, CA; Travis Rodgers, an entrepreneur with nearly two decades of experience working with software and technology firms; and Joe Rodgers, who has spent the last 15 years doing venture investing in prepublic companies that are focused on telecommunications, Internet, and software.

The company resurfaced earlier this year with an electronic dental record system for patient file sharing, dentist-to-dentist communication, and dental practitioner collaboration. RecordLinc enables dental specialists, patient coordinators, and dental labs to share and collaborate on patients' files through a HIPAA-compliant application. The software can be accessed anywhere with an Internet connection and enables real-time discussions and patient file sharing, according to the company.

Registered users can also do the following using RecordLinc:

“It's social media meets HIPAA compliance.”
— Travis Rodgers, RecordLinc
  • Add colleagues to patient files that they create
  • Transfer ownership of a patient file to another user
  • Create preset and custom montages for other colleagues to view and print
  • Receive online notification for patient records that have been updated by participating dental professionals
  • Backup patient images offsite
  • Share patient images in real-time
  • Write real-time messages to other RecordLinc users
  • Receive messages and letters from other RecordLinc users
  • View and print images added to the patient file by associated colleagues
  • Search for other colleagues that use RecordLinc

The system already integrates with several practice management systems, including Dentrix, EagleSoft, IMS, and Windent OMS, according to Travis. Other services, such as BrightSquid and eDossea, allow users to share patient records but are not integrated with practice management systems and don't have the social collaboration aspect to them, Travis noted.

"Our software tool combines the collaboration of an experts exchange by utilizing the profile and networking components of LinkedIn and Facebook, creating a community specifically designed for dental practitioners," Travis said. "We are integrating all of the major practice management and imaging systems to provide a common language to exchange records between dentists. It's social media meets HIPAA compliance."

The next phase of the product rollout will include the ability to collect patient information prior to when they come into the office, then the ability for patients to have a single point of record and access to their file.

"A 'living patient file,' for when they go from one doctor to the next," Travis said.

The RecordLinc service, which is also subscription-based, is expected to cost $160 per month, although it is currently free to early adopters, which the company is actively seeking, Travis noted. It has already been beta-tested and received very positive feedback, he added.

"We just want to build the best tool out there," he said. "We have purposely held back because releasing a product until it's fully developed and working end to end can backfire. It's all about integrating and making it easier for dentists to share data."

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