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British Orthodontic Society unveils first IOTN app to assist with orthodontic referral process for NHS-funded treatment

On Sept. 23, 2016, the British Orthodontic Society (BOS) launched the first app to assist dental professionals and students with classifying malocclusions according to the Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need (IOTN). In the UK, this clinical index is used to assess the need and eligibility of children 18 years and younger to receive National Health Service (NHS) funded orthodontic treatment on dental health grounds. The BOS believes that, if treatment has to be rationed, then the IOTN is an objective and reliable way to select those children who will benefit most from treatment and is a fair way to prioritize limited government health care resources. Orthodontists in other countries also use the IOTN as a guideline to determine orthodontic need.

The BOS developed the new app, Easy IOTN, to help improve the standard for and accuracy of orthodontic referrals, as well as to support and inform the training of undergraduates and general dentists. The app guides the user to the correct classification via the quickest possible route, using simple clinical features. The app also includes a series of professional development questions, which, if completed, will result in one hour of verifiable continuing professional development (UK General Dental Council only).

Easy IOTN is available for free download via the Apple App Store. The app is compatible with the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. An app for Android devices will be available in 2017. 

“The role of the BOS is to advance the science and practice of orthodontics to benefit patients, and that’s what we hope this app will achieve,” said BOS Director of Education Dr. Susan Cunningham, who, along with Dr. Guy Deeming, led the development of the app. “Additionally, this is a resource for the whole dental team, which we hope will ensure that patients are on the correct clinical pathway.”

Traditionally, IOTN is recognized as potentially complex, which has led to incorrect application. With increased emphasis on reducing referrals for those patients who do not qualify for NHS treatment, the timing of this product launch is ideal. 

“We wanted to simplify and streamline the scoring process, as well as support the training of dentists,” said Dr. Deeming, chairman of the BOS Orthodontic Specialist Group. “This is no substitute for calibration, but we hope it will be a useful adjunct for dentists.”

The app announcement was one of the highlights of the British Orthodontic Conference that was held Sept. 23-25, 2016, in Brighton, England. More than 1,000 delegates attended the BOS meeting, which featured speakers from the UK and abroad.