In past columns, I’ve discussed the importance of being “online.” I like to do the “hygiene Google” to locate important hygiene patient information. While my patient is sitting in the chair, I can locate and print articles from the Internet about their condition.
No longer do we need to “hygiene Google” without help and guidance. In the last few years, some of our favorite hygiene companies have provided “hygiene Google” sites within their Web sites. Examples of supportive hygiene companies include Colgate, Sonicare, Hu-Friedy, Laclede, and Johnson & Johnson. These companies have dedicated many of their resources to hygienists for current information and product resources.
Each company Web site has its own features, advantages, and benefits. I learned that the most important part of research is that hygiene patient information is available for instant retrieval. As a busy health-care professional, this saves me time going through the huge Internet Google search! The Web site addresses are www.colgateprofessional.com, www.hu-friedy.com, www.laclede.com, www.jnj.com, and www.sonicare.com.
• New products - It’s a challenge finding time to research new products. You can add yourself to a mailing list online and these companies will automatically send you updated information on new products.
• Product ingredients - Depending on the company’s products, you can access each product by name and get a complete description of ingredients.
• Product ordering - Most of the time we don’t have time to speak with company dental reps, let alone leave a list of what we need to order. Ordering after hours is great, especially if your office is set up to do so.
• Professional resources - I like this section. It provides information about articles I need to keep me up-to-date on changing ideas, continuing education courses, or patient materials.
• Office literature - I like this section of sites for my patients. I can just print articles as needed.
• Continuing education - If you cannot seem to find the time to slip in those continuing education courses, you can easily obtain your credits after hours online!
• E-newsletter - You can sign an e-mail list and receive newsletters on interesting topics via email. A lot of time and effort goes into these newsletters. Hygiene school was just a preview of what we need to learn. With newsletters, we can stay current on cutting edge technology and topics of interest - from government legislation to consumer product demands.
• Track your account - If you decide you would like to manage your favorite company products online, Sonicare has a built-in tracking system to track spending and product ordering.
• Students - Colgate even has a section for students. I feel this is really cutting edge, considering the atmosphere students are required to become involved with. I call this the “short cut to hygiene work reality” section.
• Animation/media clips - I particularly enjoyed the animation clips from Colgate. How many times have we tried to demonstrate with words how to brush? With your computer, you can go straight to animated clips about how to brush, as well as to other well-done video clips. If you’re in an office that does not have an automated patient education media, Colgate has already done this for you and your patients!
• Current international hygiene news - There are international dental hygiene organizations. Read about our sisters in hygiene overseas. I have found many topics like this that are not seen in too many dental journals.
• Oral health library - This is definitely a hygiene Google library of information, all neatly tucked under Web site addresses. For example, the Laclede site provides information on cancer research, and Johnson & Johnson offers news about the mouth and body connection.
• Patient education after hours - Many times patients need answers to their dental needs and do not feel comfortable contacting us at the office. So telling them about about our favorite sites can help answer their questions. Many of my patients have “googled” their dental questions, and tell me so when they are in my chair. This started about five years ago, when my patients researched recommendations I made for gum treatments on the Internet. When they returned for care, they were more receptive to my recommendations because they had read about it on the Internet.
• CE online - One of perks of the Internet is online continuing education courses. I’m glad to see these companies set up additional courses for our optional learning.
The only down side to these Internet sites is the amount of clicking required to get where you want to go. Many Internet sites are set up to what I call “layer the pages.” At times, I find accessing information a bit cumbersome. If I’m in a hurry to show a patient something, I may need to “book mark” the page so I can get to it immediately.
• Access to free samples - Yes, free stuff! Did you know you can click for free samples? I like free samples, and I like that I can click to get them! I’ve even sent patients to these sites for free samples!
• Scholarships and awards - Most all of the company’s sites have left no stone unturned, even to the point of offering scholarships and awards.
• Cool kids’ stuff - What tooth comes in at age nine? I like handing out brochures about tooth eruption, but when the brochures run out I forget to order more. No more worry. I just go to the Colgate site, and there you go - the chart and kid info needed to print out. I love having a company that helps me “information manage” my hygiene patient education.
• Set up online ordering accounts for easy tracking and ordering
• Bookmark your favorite company web sites for quick access on the Internet
• Print out ahead of time your favorite articles for patient handouts
• Utilize the media clips for easy teaching tools and methods
• Sign up for E-newsletters to receive current up-to-date hygiene patient research
Victoria DaCosta, RDH, BS, is founder and president of Hy-Tech Solutions. A practicing dental hygienist for 18 years, DaCosta is a speaker, author, consultant, and an expert in the design of medical/dental software. She is also on the new technologies committee for the California Dental Hygienists’ Association. DaCosta can be contacted at www.hy-techsolutions.com.