Good charting software has many features. One of the most important is that is eliminates all paper. That means the software must accommodate all the bits of paper data we stuff in a chart and it must have a method of importing virtually anything either with a scanner or file import function. If some bit of paper possibly a lab slip or patient letter must be stored in a folder then you have lost one of the primary benefits of an electronic chart.
Another important feature is full integration. That means that each item is entered one time and then transfers to where ever else it is needed electronically. For example a procedure will progress from diagnosis to charting to treatment planning to scheduling to treatment to insurance to payment. This is called single entry. If the user has to re-enter information such as procedure codes, tooth numbers or fees at any stage then the software is not fully integrated.
Good charting software must accommodate all the information we used to record on paper. That includes existing restorations, conditions, diagnostic findings, treatment plans, periodontal probings and tissue conditions, tooth surfaces, materials and procedure notes.
Charting software must be easy to use. Every mouse click or keystroke slows down the process and makes the program harder to use, which means it doesn’t get used. The more the user can customize the chart the easier it is to use. That means the user can create shortcuts, eliminate features they don’t use and designate functions for each button.
Data entry needs to be fast and easy. The standard is still mouse clicks and keystrokes however faster more intuitive entry methods are available. Like voice; we’d all like to talk to our computer just like Star Trek. Some charting programs allow users to speak in clinical findings like pocket depths, tooth conditions and restorations. Another alternative entry is touch, instead of clicking a mouse the user touches the screen. Another option available on Tablet PCs is “Ink” a special function that allows users to write or draw on the chart just as if it was a piece of paper.