“The server is down!”
These are words that pierce deeply into the psyche, creating fear and panic as I realize that I have no idea who is coming today, when they are coming or why they are coming. Thankfully, for those of us who heed the advice of the technical wizards who put this stuff together, the server has a back-up, so none of that vital information about who, when and why is really lost, it just feels lost. The actual and immediate problem is accessing it in a timely enough manner so that the appropriate protocol to bring life back to the brain of the practice can occur without disrupting the life of said practice.
Having lived through the change from real to virtual records, I have had that fear and panic from sentence one for a long time. I remember running both written and virtual schedules and accounting concurrently “just until we know it will work.” It didn’t take long to know that it does, and I abandoned the paper schedule and accounting without looking back – but there was still that little voice reminding me of that fear. That voice drove me to do some things that served me well in the ensuing years. I want to share some of those things with you now in the hope that you don’t have to suffer the fear and panic.
How to keep your practice running when the server is down
1. Always print a schedule for the next business day before leaving. In the unlikely event of a system failure, the appointments for the next day can still be completed. The follow-up appointments may need to become a telephone conversation, but at least the things planned for “today” can still happen. I know practices that print the next two business days before leaving.
2. Know the number to call when the server is down and make sure everyone knows where to find that number when there is a system failure.
3. Back-up your data everyday, all day. There are many ways to do this, and your technical wizard should have made you understand the importance of not looking for a bargain in this department. DO IT.
4. Read number three again.
5. Test the back-up systems to be sure they actually have your computer data saved and that it can be restored to the system. There are many stories about people backing up their data with complete confidence who then discover that when they needed to restore the data, it did not actually restore from the back-up. If you employ a technical wizard, you probably have multiple back-ups of everything to ensure that this risk is minimized.
While I hope you never have to suffer the panic of the title statement, planning for it as if it were an absolute certainty will make that morning a little less painful and ensure that you still are able to do the dentistry you planned for that day. You will have given your team and your wizard the gift of a day – 24 hours – to restore life to the thing that makes everything else possible.
(Click this link to read more dentistry articles by Dr. Gary DeWood.)
Gary DeWood, D.D.S., M.S., Spear Faculty and Contributing Author