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THE COLONY, Texas, U.S.: The reopening of dental offices around the world under the conditions of the new normal poses many questions for practice owners, such as how to ensure that only healthy patients come in for appointments. The answer may be an app called SignIn Online, which allows the remote screening of patients for COVID-19-related symptoms.
The idea for SignIn Online came up at the end of March 2020, when founder Riya Rangdal sat at the dinner table with her parents and discussed when it would be safe for her mother—Dr. Sujata Basawaraj, who owns Main Dentistry near Dallas—to go back to work. The main concerns were that contact between staff and patients might not be safe and that analogue screening of patients for health status was inefficient. Together with her father, they created a software app that keeps record of the health status of people entering and leaving business premises. The design process started in early April, and the app has been available since mid-July for both iOS and Android devices.
How SignIn Online works
In an interview with Dental Tribune International (DTI), Basawaraj explained how the app works: “Patients with appointments will get an SMS message with a link. Once they click on the link, it takes them to a browser window on their mobile phone where they respond to COVID-19-related screening questions. Once they submit their responses, the business will get a notification on mobile phone, tablet or desktop computer, from which the business can review the responses and decide whether to allow or refuse the customer entry. If the customer is allowed in, then the app records his or her body temperature.”
For walk-ins, Basawaraj said that patients can scan a QR code posted by the entrance to the premises. Then, the questions can be answered in a browser window in the same way. At the end of the day, the software will create a PDF report for each patient.
Advantages of SignIn Online
The main goal of SignIn Online is to improve customer relationships during the pandemic by making physical distancing easier and safer for all parties involved through prescreening for COVID-19-related symptoms. A contactless check-in lowers the chance of infection while controlling the flow of people into business premises. In this way, safe social distancing is maintained. If needed, other documents for signature, like liability waivers and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act forms can be attached. In the unfortunate event that a SARS-CoV-2-positive case arises after these precautions have been followed, contact tracing is very quick and easy because all the information has been digitally stored.
At the beginning of August, SignIn Online also released a web app allowing all the mobile app features to be accessed on desktops as well. On top of that, multilanguage support is planned to be rolled out later this month. Currently, SignIn Online is only available in English.
What users think
Basawaraj reported that users have given very positive feedback overall. The fact that SignIn Online makes it unnecessary for staff to handle paper forms has been greatly appreciated.
“It removes the ‘risk of exposure’ and controls possible spread of SARS-CoV-2”–
Dr. Raghu Puttaiah
Dr. Arthur Volker, who is the owner of DentCare Dental Center in New York City, said in an interview with DTI that he had learned about SignIn Online via social media when looking for a more efficient way to obtain and transfer critical patient information.
He said: “We are a fully digital office and with the reopening had been providing paper screening questionnaires regarding COVID-19 health risk and exposure status to our patients at the time of their visit. These forms were then manually scanned and uploaded to the patient’s chart. The beauty of SignIn Online is that the patient can fill out the questionnaire online before his or her visit, or it can be scanned via a QR code that is posted in an isolated area of the office. The result is less interaction and less potential for cross-contamination of patients and staff. Additionally, information is processed digitally and readily entered into the patient’s chart.” Volker added that, after several weeks of testing, he and his team were “extremely happy to have added it to the workflow.”
An expert in infection control and occupational safety, Dr. Raghu Puttaiah, has also reviewed the app and has come to the conclusion that SignIn Online can be a very helpful tool overall. “It removes the ‘risk of exposure’ and controls possible spread of SARS-CoV-2,” he said to DTI. “The versatility of this app is that it can be used by dental clinics, medical clinics and hospitals in the health care sector and also has applications in nonmedical fields where person-to-person physical contact is a factor in the spread of disease. It is a very simple app with a very clean graphical user interface.”