By Danny Chan
Computer breakdowns are one of the most dreaded occurrences at the workplace, and the dental practice is no exception. Unlike bigger-sized companies, most dental practices cannot afford to employ a full-time IT person, let alone a department, to oversee their systems. Compounding this lack of backend support, many dental computer systems are linked to a host of equipment and devices that require specific software knowledge unique to the profession. In short, not all IT specialists are sufficiently equipped to tackle your PC issue, should you be saddled with one.
Perhaps that is why when dentists do find an IT expert equal to their tasks, they are so eager to share the discovery with other dentist friends. In the case of IT specialist firm, Cable-Net Technologies, their dental referrals became so frequent and extensive that it developed into a niche market.
Since 1995, Cable-Net Technologies has helped numerous dental practices with their computing issues; offering a comprehensive range of services including strategic infrastructure management, IT asset and service management, IT network integration, and full PC, network and software support.
Originally established as SCE Networking in 1990, the company started out as a provider of wholesale products catering to the data and communications installation market. Noting a lack in IT customer support rendered to Small-to-Medium Enterprise (SME) businesses, Cable-Net Technologies was born in 1995 to fill this gaping need.
It was also around this time that the company marked its foray into the dental industry. In 1995, Cable-Net’s Director, Chris Ajaka, attended to an onsite problem, which fueled his appreciation for dental IT work.
The client had purchased a new intra-oral X-ray unit and encountered problems with connecting it to the system network. Without prior dental experience, Chris labored over the unfamiliar clinical contraption, trying to figure out the relationship between computer and device. Three hours later, he got the system working.
“The client was so impressed,” Chris remembers, “he not only recommended my services to his dentist friends, but also introduced Cable-Net to the company that sold him the X-ray device.”
Quality service travels far and wide within the dental industry. A check with past and existing customers of Cable-Net shows that a high percentage comprised dentists, almost all of who learned about the company through word-of-mouth.
Ban Ayar of Ayar Dental, quoted both a software vendor and an industry friend as people who first introduced her to Cable-Net Technologies.
“Since then, I have been a convinced customer. Every time we get an error message, encounter a networking problem, or when a computer dies on us, a technician at Cable-Net would patiently guide us over the phone, and talk us through the troubleshooting process.”
Ban adds: “If that doesn’t help, a technician would show up at the clinic the following day to fix the problem. Basically, whatever IT problem you can think of, just give them a call and they’ll fix it.”
For Dr Davina Kwong of Mint Dental Care, it was Cable-Net’s stellar customer service that won her over.
“A technician from Cable-Net solved an IT issue with my digital radiographs that had been festering for a number of months. I was very impressed by the technician, Andrej, who displayed a genuine desire to assist with our IT problems.
Dr Kwong, who was referred to Cable-Net by a product distributor, was all praise for the IT contractor, adding:
“The overall service was efficient and thorough. It was a pleasure working with them.”
Dr Scott Davis, a prosthodontist with Woolgoolga Dental Centre, was also having issues with his digital radiography system and computer server, when he was referred to Cable-Net.
“My PSP plate scanner system was having communication difficulties and an intermittent fault that prior attempts had not rectified. They sent an IT man up from Sydney who not only addressed the primary problem but also identified problems with the layout of files on the server and corrected those as well.”
Complimenting the IT technician for his thoroughness and excellent problem-solving attitude, Scott would not think twice about recommending Cable-Net’s services.
“I would recommend them because they get the job done, and promptly as well.”
Alternative to ‘Break Fix’ Scenario
Due in part to their renowned expertise and also based on industry needs, Chris reveals that the bulk of their dental clients go to them for on-site support – and usually only after when things go wrong.
“We call this the ‘break fix’ scenario. Ironically, it’s the same situation as that of a patient who visits the dentist only when the pain has become unbearable.
“Without any ongoing maintenance programs in place, most dental practices simply wait for things to fail before upgrading or performing any sort of maintenance.”
Chris warns that the consequences for inaction may be more than what is generally perceived. He contends that while expensive hourly rates, call out fees and other incidental costs are unnecessary expenditure, they pale in comparison to “the big one”.
“The major costs of a ‘break fix’ scenario must be viewed in terms of a practice’s downtime. Just imagine the costs that a practice incurs having to shut down operations, even if it is only for a few hours. Not to mention how disruptive it will be to the patients and staff, having to re-arrange the visits and time slots.”
Beyond advocating regular maintenance checks, Chris encourages practice owners to take the preventive approach, much the same way they would advise their own patients.
“Eighty per cent of all IT problems are software related and totally preventable”, Chris writes in The Future for Dental IT, an article published in the November/December 2010 issue of Australasian Dentist. “Not only are they preventable but there are plenty of warning signs that are given before a failure.”
To further promote this mindset, Cable-Net Technologies recently unveiled a revolutionary IT monitoring concept from North America known as ‘Check Protect’. Driven by Managed Information Technology Service (MITS), Check Protect is a new automated IT support system that is able to perform round-the-clock monitoring of a client’s PC network and server.
“Every five minutes it will check your entire system, providing spyware protection and removal, virus protection, disk drive analysis, security patch management, application usage, system auditing and backup checks.”
Information monitored by Check Protect gets fed back to Cable-Net’s head office, appearing real-time on giant monitors. System reports are churned automatically, reflecting ongoing software issues related to the client’s system. IT specialists manning the sophisticated console are also alerted to whatever hardware issues that need attention. In response, the IT support staff would contact the client immediately to handle the issue over the phone or, if necessary, dispatch a technician onsite to fix the problem before it worsens.
Check Protect offers a comprehensive approach to IT monitoring that replaces the need for regular and expensive site visits. According to results in American and European markets, it reduces the incidence of down time by over 60 per cent. To be entitled for a special introductory rate on Check Protect, dentists are advised to contact Cable-Net before the offer expires in July.
“Having worked with many dentists, I have come to realize that most of them are reactive, rather than preventive when it comes to IT maintenance. Some probably never considered the likelihood of losing data and other bleak scenarios, which tend to accompany a laidback approach to the issue.
“In reality, we have come across many instances where dentists and practice managers panic over highly tense situations such as a system virus corrupting their entire database.”
And protecting against that “worst case scenario”, as Chris puts it, is the biggest draw card for having a robust 24/7 monitoring system like Check Protect working constantly for you behind the scenes – providing that extra layer of security that perhaps, you once thought you could do without.