Back in the mid-1990's, a very good friend of mine left the software company we both worked for and founded a company dedicated to developing software solutions for dental/ortho offices. The idea he had then was a bit revolutionary at the time for a PC-based system. Along with a doctor-friend of his, they set out to design a complete "workflow" enabled system that would walk an attending physician/assistant through the entire process of taking care of a patient. This included signing the patient in, taking the necessary photos of the patients mouth (the system interfaced to the cameras and x-ray machines), performing the necessary work on the patient, all the way through to the point of patient check-out.

As you can imagine, this system was quite complex and took many months to build even the first version. However, once completed, it was a huge success with dentist/ortho offices around the country and now my friend is a very wealthy and basically retired individual.

Workflow-based systems such as this are now much easier than ever to design and build with the product we announced yesterday at the PDC - Windows Workflow Foundation. Using the Windows Workflow Foundation, architects and developers can engineer and implement complex systems that execute a wide variety of stateful, long-running, persistent workflow applications that includes both computer-based as well as user-based actions. For more information, I would recommend reading the following whitepapers and articles: