So, Thankam and I are currently driving from the American Dental Education Assocation (ADEA) Annual Session in Orlando to the Annual Meeting of the American Assocation of Dental Research (AADR). I wanted to take this time to tell you about what happened at the ADEA meeting with regard to dental informatics: In one short phrase, “Dental informatics rocked!”
To take a small step back, that was not always the case. I have been affiliated with what was then called the American Assocation of Dental Schools (AADS) (and is now ADEA) for over 20 years. During that time, I have watched dental informatics grow up from a concept that no one was familiar with into a domain that literally permeates all aspects of dental care, education and research.
Ample proof of that are the dental informatics events at the ADEA meeting that is coming to a close. There was a series of presentations on “Data Mining From Electronic Patient Records to Measure Patient and Student Outcomes,” 23 short talks on a variety of dental informatics topics, and the TechExpo, in which faculty and students demonstrated informatics applications hands-on. In addition, there were probably over 20 posters that focused on dental informatics either exclusively or partially, as well as quite a few exhibitors.
The dental informatics topics at the meeting were as varied as they were interesting. In the data mining session, Muhammad Walji talked about his work on merging the EDR databases of four dental schools into a virtual data warehouse for research. Rachel Ramoni discussed how targeted selection can help identify patients with adverse dental outcomes better than traditional methods. I spoke about our work on data mining of EDRs in private practice to support outcomes, epidemiology and comparative effectiveness research, funded by an NIH grant.
In the short talks, we learned about educational applications, such as online courses in dental hygiene, a visuo-audio-haptic system for training in dental caries detection, and an electronic portfolio for enhancing learning in pre-doctoral pediatric dentistry, as well as many other topics.
The TechExpo was a smorgasboard of applications, such as “A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words: Dental Images Media Library,” “Augmented Reality in Dental Education: An Innovative Approach to 3-D Visualization,” “Dental Histology Online: Creating a Virtual Microscopy Lab to Engage Students in Interactive Computer-Assisted Instruction,” “Engaging Predoctoral Dental Students in State-of-the Art CAD/CAM Technology Through the Use of the Blue Cam” and “Using the iPad 2 to Become an Engaging Educator and More Effective Researcher.”
All in all, it was an energizing experience to see dental informatics research and development thriving at ADEA. As we would say in Germany: “Weiter so!”
All the best and keep in touch!
Titus Schleyer, DMD, PhD
Assoc. Professor and Director, Center for Dental Informatics