Newswise — New biometric technology allows orthodontics patients to "sign in" with their fingerprints when they show up for appointments.

Patients don't have to speak to a receptionist, but can simply touch a fingerprint keypad at the front desk. This is connected through the computer network and sends a message directly to a computer at an orthodontic resident's work station, noting that the patient is waiting.

Upgrades to the clinic this summer have equipped each orthodontic resident's dental station with a chair-side computer to receive the biometric data sent when patients arrive.

"If a patient waits for more than 15 minutes, the computer will flag that the patient has been waiting a long time," says Dr. Billy Wiltshire, head of orthodontics.The ViewPointâ„¢ patient management system, in addition to the fingerprint sign-in, will enable orthodontic residents to access virtual dental records without having to refer to traditional paper charts. The technology will also eventually include access to digital dental x-rays.

"This will make our day-to-day activities more efficient," Wiltshire says, noting residents will also be able to schedule follow-up appointments with patients using their chair-side computers. The process will free up time previously spent making appointments with receptionists at the front desk.

The fingerprint sign-in will shorten line-ups for the nearly 1,000 patients that visit the University of Manitoba orthodontics clinic every year.

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