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Selecting Supplies and Equipment

Selecting Supplies and Equipment

Computer Equipment, Software, and Connectivity

Laptop computers and tablets are frequently used in school-based dental sealant programs. The ability to enter student and treatment data in real time using a laptop or tablet can significantly reduce time and effort in tracking consent forms, recording teeth sealed, evaluating retention rates, and submitting reimbursement requests to public and private insurance. Data can be stored on both laptop computers and tablets and transferred to a central database for storage and analysis.

Computer Equipment

Tablets are reasonably priced and readily available. Tablets come in a variety of screen and memory capacity sizes and are very portable. They have good battery life and are easy to recharge. Unless a detachable keyboard or a stylus is used, accurate data entry can be a problem, as screen keyboards are smaller than computer keyboards and can be less responsive to touch. Tablets are easily dropped and must be stored in a secure location when not in use.

Laptops are also reasonably priced and readily available. They have nearly the same performance as desktop computers but typically are less upgradable. The battery life of a laptop tends to be shorter than that of other devices. Like tablets, they can be easily dropped and must be stored in a secure location when not in use.

Before purchasing computer equipment, be sure to research available options carefully. Many tech news websites (e.g., Datalux) offer valuable tips and considerations related to purchasing computer equipment.

Software

A variety of software programs are available to assist in the management and evaluation of school-based dental sealant programs. Which software program is used will depend on how the school-based dental sealant program is organized. School-based dental sealant programs that are part of a city, county, or state health department–sponsored clinic or a community health center may be required to use dental-sealant-specific software or software that connects to the parent organization’s electronic health record system. On the other hand, freestanding school-based health centers may develop their own data-collection forms using Excel or an app. (See data collection in Step 6, Developing Forms and Managing Data.)

Connectivity

School-based dental sealant programs often need to transfer patient-specific or aggregate data to their parent organization or another central repository. If data is shared, especially patient-specific data, having a secure Internet connection is imperative. The two most common options are each school’s or the school district’s Internet service or a dedicated wireless connection.

 

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