We assumed that globalization and information technology had shrunk the distance between east and west. However, few reports reveal the status of dental computerization in China, which has the greatest population in the world. It is significant for dentists, informaticians, and dental IT investors to have a general picture of the progress of dental computerization in China. This case study indicates a considerable level of dental computerization in China's metropolises.
We found that a majority of respondents had computers in their offices, while a minority used chair-side computers. Data are similar to Schleyer's 2006 report for the United States. 9,10
Data suggest that China, although an undeveloped country, has an equal opportunity to progress dental informatics as does the west. China's great population seems to create a larger market for dental IT investors. This survey reveals that computerization is more likely to be adopted by Government Hospitals, probably because of financial support from government, than by private clinics. Additionally, few respondents adopt CPR or use the internet for clinical service. Thus China may implement dental computerization in ways that differ from the west. Further research concerning this topic must take many factors into consideration, including politics, economics, culture, and patients' education levels.
In China, government hospitals receive a much higher number of patient visits than private clinics. It is urgent for them to adopt information technology to assist and streamline administrative affairs. The competitive advantage of a private practitioner lies in service delivery. Investment in technology to assist in clinical service delivery offers a great return. Differences detected between two types of practice on certain issues inform us that we must have diverse thinking in developing and applying information technology under different dental clinical environments.
Dentists' attitudes are a decisive factor to implementing dental computerization. 10
We found that Chinese dentists' attitudes were generally positive. The negative impacts of computer use may be amplified by some nonusers, but proper instruction in computer use may reduce resistance. The enthusiastic attitudes of younger Chinese dentists anticipates a favorable future for dental computerization in China.