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RFID Fills a Need for Dentists

Carestream Dental's solution includes HF tags and readers to automate the process of accessing digital X-rays images for a particular patient.
By Claire Swedberg
Jun 11, 2012Many dentists are transitioning from traditional X-ray film images of patients' teeth to reusable phosphor plates or digital photos, eliminating the need for X-ray film, chemicals and film-processing machines. The Carestream Dental division of Carestream Health provides those upgraded solutions for image capture and storage, but has also added another element to ensure that images are properly transmitted and stored: radio frequency identification. By employing RFID, the system enables dental employees to link a patient with a specific computer, so that as the X-ray images are transmitted via a Wi-Fi connection, or uploaded through a Carestream Dental device, they are received only by the appropriate computer—the one in the room in which the patient is located.

In the case of both products—models RVG 6500 and CS 7600—RFID is intended to eliminate potential confusion regarding which phosphor plates or digital images belong to which particular patient, and in which room. In this way, the X-ray process can be made easier and the images can be collected within seconds, to be viewed by employees and patients.

The CS 7600's Scan & Go device has a reader that captures the ID number on a dental plate's RFID tag and confirms that data is directed to correct computer.
The Oakland Center for Cosmetic Dentistry, located in Pittsburgh, is utilizing one of Carestream Dental's RVG 6500 digital X-ray sensors, which sends electronic X-ray images to a computer via a Wi-Fi connection. To ensure that the computer displays the correct X-rays for the patient being treated, an optional high-frequency (HF) RFID tag can be attached to each computer used to view the digital X-ray images. In this way, the dental practitioner who took the X-ray images can receive those pictures on his or her computer, in the same room in which that person is working, and can review them without delay, knowing immediately if an image is clear, or whether it needs to be retaken.

Carestream Dental's second and latest product with RFID functionality, released in February of this year, is the CS 7600 model. Instead of using film or an electronic X-ray sensor, the system employs phosphor plates, which are exposed in the same way as traditional X-ray film. The images recorded on the phosphor plates are then scanned, digitized and displayed on a monitor, and are saved to the user's computer. The solution also includes a Scan & Go option, whereby the phosphor plates are embedded with 13.56 MHz RFID inlays, compliant with the ISO 15693 RFID standard, to electronically link the plates with the corresponding patient information and automatically route the scanned images to the proper computer and patient file. The CS 7600's Scan & Go device comes with a built-in 13.56 MHz RFID reader that captures the ID number of a phosphor plate's tag and confirms that the information is directed to a specific computer, explains Denika Smallwood, Carestream Dental's product specialist for imaging. However, Smallwood says, the CS 7600 device does not transmit data wirelessly, as the RVG 6500 model does.

Carestream's Denika Smallwood
In the case of the CS 7600 system, the practitioner uses "smart" (RFID-tagged) plates to capture images in a patient's mouth. A plate is first placed into a hygienic sheath, after which an employee holds the smart plate in front of the Scan & Go device's built-in reader. The interrogator captures the unique ID number of that plate's embedded RFID tag, linking that ID with data input into the system, such as the patient's and dentist's names, along with the tooth number. That information is written to the plate's tag and is stored there, as well as in the back-end system. The smart plate is then placed in the patient's mouth, an image is taken and the plate is inserted into the CS 7600 device, which could be plugged into an Ethernet jack anywhere within the office. The CS 7600 system captures the ID number, along with patient data, the image is digitized and the software links the ID with the appropriate computer, for review by the dental staff. The image stored on that plate can then be erased so that the plate can be reused.

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