Learning how to be a Chief Information Officer (CIO) in dentistry: A new online course

Just in time for the holidays, I decided to write what will be my last blog post for the year. In late January/early February, we plan to release an online continuing dental education course on information technology in dentistry. It essentially teaches you how to be the “Chief Information Officer” in a dental care delivery setting.

The course is formally titled Introduction to Health Information Technology in Dentistry and the product of two years of work by the Center for Dental Informatics. Here are the short stats:

  • designed as a full-semester, 3-credit graduate course
  • 15 sessions, each of which takes about 3 hours to complete
  • expected to award about 50-60 continuing dental education credits
  • priced at prevailing rates

So, why are we offering this course? Successfully implementing and using health information technology (HIT) requires more than just knowledge about technology. It is, essentially, a complex, socio-technical challenge. Therefore, the course delivers solid technical knowledge about informatics, as well as leadership and management skills. The course is not designed to make participants into experts in everything “technology.” Rather, it delivers a strong technology- and management-focused package to help them succeed at implementing electronic dental records (EDR) and other technologies.

The course has two main objectives. It will participants:

  1. use information systems for managing dental data and supporting clinical decision making in the context of the dental care and office workflow; and
  2. plan, evaluate technology for, administer and manage information technology implementations in dentistry.

Our premise for the course is that participants are not simply interested in becoming consumers of a fully implemented information system, but intend to acquire a deeper background for the “why” and “how” of HIT implementation in dentistry. By doing so, they will become “educated consumers” of HIT and will be able to optimize how HIT contributes to achieving their goals. Successful completion of the course will make participants competent to lead and/or substantially contribute to applying HIT to dentistry successfully in a variety of clinical care settings.

The course modules include (subject to finalization): Course introduction and overview; Dental care workflow and analysis; Overview of electronic dental records; Dental data and their representation; Controlled vocabularies, terminologies and ontologies; User-centered design methods for EDRs; Practical information design; Supporting clinical decision making with computers; Failures in Health Information Technology (HIT); Planning and implementing IT in dental practice; Requirements analysis and technology evaluation; Managing HR for IT; Introduction to hardware and software; Privacy, confidentiality and security; and a Course review session.

So, who is the course targeted at? Three main audiences:

  1. Dentists: Dental personnel will benefit from the course through a comprehensive overview of health information technology use and implementation in dental practice. A key focus of the course is how information technology can help improve patient care and support the clinical activities of the dental team. As leaders of the dental team, dentists will gain a particular understanding of how the office workflow relates to requirements for IT systems, and how to best plan and select products for, as well as manage, implementation.
  2. Dental auxiliary personnel: Auxiliary personnel often play a key role in the success of HIT systems because they are the most frequent users. Dental hygienists and assistants will mostly benefit from an understanding of system functions and usability in light of the daily use of IT applications.
  3. Non-dentists, such as information technology support personnel and consultants: Non-dental personnel will gain a basic understanding of how dental offices work and how IT can be used to support its operations.

Did this description get you mildly interested? If so, check out our marketing video:

Last but not least, you probably want to know who is teaching the course:

  • Titus Schleyer, DMD, PhD, Assoc. Professor and Director, Center for Dental Informatics
  • Thankam P. Thyvalikakath, DMD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Center for Dental Informatics
  • Heiko Spallek, DMD, PhD, MSBA, Associate Professor, Dental Public Health, Center for Dental Informatics
  • Richard A. Oldham, DDS, Graduate Student, Department of Biomedical Informatics
  • Corey Stein, BSc, Graduate Student, Department of Biomedical Informatics

There are a limited number of slots available in the course. If you’re interested, please e-mail me at schleyer@regenstrief.org.

With my best wishes for Happy Holidays!


P.S. This course is not an in-depth tutorial on the functions of particular practice management or EDR systems. Rather, it uses practical examples from these systems to highlight important theoretical concepts relevant to health information technology in dentistry.

– Titus Schleyer, DMD, PhD

Assoc. Professor and Director, Center for Dental Informatics


7 thoughts on “Learning how to be a Chief Information Officer (CIO) in dentistry: A new online course

  1. A great initiative which I wish lots of success. The f d i Congress science programm, Istanbul August 2013
    should mark a further enhancement for the integration for chairside dental informatics, artifical

  2. Titus,
    I’m glad that this is going to be offerred online! I will review the course and decide if I can participate. I have enrolled in a Masters in Applied Health Infirmatics through UTHSCSA Houston. I begin in January so will be pretty busy working full time as well.


    Dan Lavin

  3. Hi Dan,

    Good to hear from you and thanks for your continued interest in the course. Is the Health Informatics Masters at UTHSCSA Houston online? If so, please let me know how it goes. Muhammad Walji there is the dental informatics faculty member. Say hi to him if you run into him (literally or virtually).

    Good luck with the course!


  4. Titus!

    This stuff looks really great, I wish I had seen it sooner, at the end of last year. Is there going to be another course starting in the summer time? I am thinking that my entire staff could find this beneficial. I am not the most tech-savy person, and am trying to start this effort before I am stuck in the “stone-age.”

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