Please Bring Your Smartphone: Part 1

It’s been a decade and a half since I hung my shingle. While setting up and decorating my first office, I printed several signs stating, ‘PLEASE POWER DOWN CELL PHONES’ and strategically placed them around the office.

Why Smartphones Work in the Dental Practice

Fast forward to today and my attitude towards mobile devices in the office has taken an about-face. We now harness the power of having them in the clinical area. Where years ago we viewed smart devices as a distraction, today I acknowledge that they are a part of who we are and how we relate. Perhaps they even store some of our Cartesian sense of self within their connections to the cloud beyond them.

I’d love to share a few tricks that use smart devices for obvious uses in documentation and communication, but more importantly, impress their magical power as a tool in behavioral development and patient assessment.

Consider this: A consult appointment has reached a critical moment. You are knee to knee and eye to eye with your patient. Your diagnosis is clear and it is the opportunity to pass ownership of the patient’s condition to them. Your eyes are connected and gleaming — then a loud siren blares from the patient’s pocket.

There are several alternative versions of how this vignette continues . . .

1.  The patient giggles with embarrassment and says, “Sorry I didn’t turn that off Doc.”  

2. The patient halts your conversation, answers the phone with unapologetic alacrity, and discusses weekend plans with the caller, index finger up, signaling “hold-on.”

3. The patient gives a meek apology, answers a call, and speaks softly with their head down. When you return from checking hygiene, they explain that their mother is in hospice care.

4. The patient lowers their eyes, returns a text message, and gives a subtle nod as if they didn’t miss a word of your conversation.

To be continued …

Will Kelly DMD

Dr. Will Kelly attended the North Carolina State University School of Design and received a BA in Communications. He went on to spend two additional years in post baccalaureate studies in Medical Sciences at both UNC Chapel Hill and Virginia Commonwealth University. Dr. Kelly graduated from the top ranked UNC School of Dentistry in 2004. His good hands and clinical abilities led to his being chosen as a teaching assistant to underclassmen in operative dentistry. In addition to clinical time in the dental school, Dr. Kelly had valuable experiences working in both the Durham VA Hospital and for the Indian Health Service in Wyoming. As a child, Dr. Kelly had the opportunity to assist his father on several dental mission trips in Haiti. After completing dental school, Dr. Kelly joined his father in private practice and served on the dental staff at Gaston Family Health Services, where he maintained a position on the board of directors. At this time Dr. Kelly also began his studies in advanced dentistry at the prestigious Pankey Institute in Miami, a continuing journey of learning that has shaped his philosophy and knowledge of the complexities of high-level dentistry. Today Dr. Kelly devotes over 100 hours a year studying with colleagues and mentors who are regarded as "Masters of Dentistry".

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