USC University of Southern California

Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC

Smiles in the Spotlight

“Smiles in the Spotlight” is a new column that celebrates a different member of the USC School of Dentistry community each month. If you’d like to nominate a student, faculty member or staff member to be featured as a Smile in the Spotlight, contact Beth Dunham at or (213) 740-4279.

If you’re a student who’s happily taken advantage of the USC School of Dentistry’s newly implemented remote axiUm access during the past few weeks, much of your gratitude goes to Jonathan Ortega.

Ortega, systems engineer with the school’s Information Technology office, worked overtime and answered e-mails around the clock in order to acquire and configure the necessary hardware, conduct user testing, fix bugs and ensure that confidential patient information remains safe and secure when student clinicians access data remotely.

“Security and HIPAA were our foremost concerns,” he said of the implementation, which began back in August 2008. “We didn’t want to just roll it out quickly; we wanted to make sure everything was done right.”

After the rollout on January 5, most students working in the clinic have now used axiUm remotely, and many students have expressed thanks to those who made off-site axiUm usage a reality. A 10-year veteran of the IT industry, Ortega said he was pleasantly surprised by the positive reaction that he and the others involved with the project have received.

So if you love being able to prepare for and schedule appointments from the comfort of your own home, send him some gratitude via e-mail or say “Hello” in the hallway. You could also drop off a gift of an interesting restaurant menu; he is always adding to the collection of over 80 menus he’s swiped from eateries near and far, he admits. Either way, he and the rest of the team that brought remote axiUm into being definitely merit a big School of Dentistry “thanks!”

“Usually, the IT guys are forgotten unless something is going wrong,” Ortega said. “We’re not used to this kind of vocal appreciation.”