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Running a dental business in rural Brazil with an iPhone and Bento 3

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Running a dental business in rural Brazil with an iPhone and Bento 3
Running a dental business in rural Brazil with an iPhone and Bento 3
Dentist Bia Kunze had a simple idea: If you can’t make it to the dentist, the dentist will come to you. Kunze is a mobile dentist in Brazil, treating house or hospital-bound patients in and around the city of Curitiba. To manage her practice on the go, she uses Bento for iPhone.

“I have a Bento database on my phone where I keep all of my patients’ records, including appointments, medical history, and dental diagrams,” she says. “It’s the easiest, most flexible solution for keeping records on the go. With Bento on the iPhone, I have everything I need to run my practice in my pocket.”
Leaving the drill behind

Like almost all dentists, Kunze started in a traditional dentist office, complete with motorized chairs and bone-chilling drills. At one point, she started visiting patients in hospitals, convalescent centers, and homes.

“It’s not a very well known way to practice,” she says. “But there are many people who can’t go to the dentist. They could be in pain, or they could have trouble chewing food. I wanted to help them, make life easier for them.”

Kunze began seeing patients outside her office, carting a kit of dentistry equipment and a smartphone to keep track of things while she was away. She started blogging about her experiences, and how she used her mobile device to log patient data. Soon she had a following and began exploring all forms of mobile computing. She wrote prolifically and even appeared on radio and TV shows as a mobile technology maven.

The dentist’s data kit grew and changed over time. She started using the Mac and Bento in 2008.

“I was told that things would be easier to manage with the Mac and Bento,” she says. “I decided to give it a try and found that it’s much easier to use than any other system I’ve encountered. In an afternoon I created a custom database that had everything I needed to keep track of.”

At first, Kunze carried her MacBook wherever she went. When Bento for iPhone was released, she left her notebook at home. “I have a lot to carry, so having everything I need in the iPhone is fantastic,” she says.

Mobile medical records

Kunze starts her home visits with Bento for iPhone. She logs appointments with the iPhone calendar and iCal, which are automatically synched with her Bento database. She also charts patient information in Bento-including medical history, caregivers’ names, likes and dislikes, and photographs.

“I enter all the medical information I can get, like chronic diseases and current medications,” she says. “Then I also keep a photo and some personal information about the patient to help me remember who they are. It’s very important to be able to talk to them about their lives and really connect.”

As the visit progresses, Kunze logs dental information. Her Bento database includes a detailed map of the mouth drawn with drop-down menus: Each tooth has its own menu. It allows Kunze to quickly record the condition of her patient’s teeth using her iPhone. The menus include options from “tooth missing” to “inflamed gum” to “perfect tooth.” With the chart, Kunze can track tooth and gum condition over time with precision.

Kunze’s mobile dental kit includes everything she needs for a checkup and a cleaning-from basic instruments to a small electric compressor that provides air pressure for water picks, vacuums, and drills. She even has a collapsible dentist chair, just in case.

“I do almost all of my work where the patients are, mostly in bed or in wheelchairs,” she says. “With my equipment, I can set up to work wherever they are comfortable.”

Practice paperwork

At the end of the visit, Kunze records her notes and sets up a return appointment using Bento for iPhone. When she returns home, Kunze syncs her Bento for iPhone database with her Bento 3 database on her MacBook.

“All it takes is one mouse click and it’s synced,” she says. “It’s basically a backup for my mobile database, but I also use it to manage patient billing,” she says.

Kunze’s Bento 3 database includes a list of bills with due dates that are logged in iCal, allowing the mobile dentist to view outstanding invoices through Bento 3 or iCal. The list also includes links to invoice documents created with Microsoft Word for Mac and stored outside of Bento.

“I can click on a bill in Bento and it automatically opens up the invoice,” she says. “I can keep the invoice anywhere, even on my .Mac account and the link will still work.”

And searching her database for patients is just a matter of typing a few keywords. “If I want to search a record for information about a preexisting medical condition or quickly find something from the last visit, all I have to do is type it in and Bento pulls it up,” she says. “It makes dealing with paperwork so much easier.”

The dentist still runs a blog about mobile dentistry and mobile computing, where she teaches people how to get the most out of their mobile devices and even how to use them to create new business opportunities-like mobile dentistry. She also teaches web courses on employing mobile computing solutions for businesses.

“Bento and Bento for iPhone are two fantastic tools for anyone who has information to organize on the go,” she says. “They’re fully customizable: You can do anything you want with them, without having to read through software.”


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