Friday, December 4, 2009

DENTRIX G4 Productivity Pack 6

I have started installing the Dentrix G4 Productivity Pack 6 on client systems.  So far, very positive feedback.  One client told me they love it!  That is pretty high praise for an update.  This is an all or nothing install.  If you install it one system, you have to install it on all of them. 

Please make sure you have a good backup of your data before you install it.  This means that you either confirm your backup or you run a manual backup before you install it.  Do not assume that because your IT person set up a backup that you now have a good backup.   If you don't check it, you may be in for a long night (or weeks depending on how bad).  Whenever I install updates to Practice Management Software programs (not just Dentrix, but all of them), I run a manual backup to make sure I can recover quickly if something goes wrong.  It is not always the installation of the update that can cause problems.  I had a server hard drive fail half way through an update, I had to use the manual backup to recover after replacing the hard drive.

Please do not assume that because you can check for updates directly with in the program, that it will be easy and won't cause problems.  Many updates include changes, enhancements, and the way you do things so there may be learning issues after the update.  If you are not sure, do not install it.  Do not assume.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Instant Messaging for Dental Offices

This post could also be titled software based communicators for dental offices.  BlueNote Communicator is the leader in software based instant messaging for dental offices.  This program replaces the annoying beeps, lights, and yelling across the office.  There are many time saving features with this software including the ability to customize shortcut notes for your particular office.  You can have it sit as a toolbar, minimized, or fully open on each PC.  The messages can pop up on the screen and then disappear after so many seconds, similar to the new email notifications in Outlook 2007.  It also has the ability to use custom sounds for each message if you want audible cues that a new message has arrived.  If you have computers at each location in your office, including offices and treatment rooms, then you should be using this software.  The cost is $895 for up to 80 computers (yes, that is eighty) and includes 1 year of email support, all upgrades and new versions.  Each year after that is $199 for support, upgrades, and versions.  We can help you get a 30-day free trial setup at your office.  We charge $215 to set it up and help you configure it initially for your office.  Great addition to your office and with the end of the year fast approaching now is the best time to get this rolled out in your office.

Why is online backup a better solution?

Patriot Networks offers an online backup to our clients.  The reason for the new service is that we have discovered over time that most clients do not change the tapes daily and/or do not check the backup logs on a daily basis to make sure the backup is running OK.  Also, very few clients take the tapes off-site and rotate them back in to the office on a daily basis.

Our online service addresses all three of these issues.  There are no tapes to change on a daily basis.  We check the logs daily to make sure the backup ran successfully.  The backups are stored in a remote, secure location at a facility with an additional backup to another facility.

The cost to backup the practice management software data (not digital x-rays or digital images) is $1.30 per day.  That is less than the price of a medium coffee.  It can get more expensive if you want to backup digital x-rays and digital images.  Some offices pay $300 to $400 a month for online backup, but they have a lot of data and rely heavily on their computer systems so the cost of potential downtime is lot more expensive to them.

Some offices will both an in-office backup (tape or USB drive) and also an online backup service.  If you have ever lost your data due to a system or disk failure, you realize how expensive and disruptive this can be to your practice.

Please call me at 508-624-9898 or email at if you would like more information on our online backup service.

Antivirus subscription renewal

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is to not renew their antivirus software subscription.  On most new PC's, the subscription for the antivirus that comes with the computer is usually a 60-day, 90-day, or one year subscription.  After this time expires, you either have to buy the full product or renew the subscription.  The misconception that most people have is that they don't need to renew the subscription because the antivirus is still working properly and they can see it running in the system tray (icons down near the time in the lower right of your screen).  While it is true that the software will continue to run even if the subscription expires, the software will not continue to update which means any new viruses that come out will not be detected by your antivirus software.  Please renew your antivirus subscriptions and even consider a 2 or 3 year renewal so you don't have to worry about it for awhile.

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Massachusetts Dentrix Study Group

Attended the second meeting of the Massachusetts Dentrix Study Group last night and Dr. Gusar's office and came away with an incredible amount of knowledge.  Deb Duclos is in charge of the group and also runs the meetings.  She is very knowledgeable in how Dentrix works and the inner workings of the program.  We discussed the paperless office last night and the two hour meeting flew by.  I highly encourage anyone using Dentrix to attend these meetings.  The meetings are held once a month in the Worcester area.  We have met twice at Dr. Gusar's office in Auburn, MA, but due to the excellent attendance we are already looking for a large place to meet. 

The meetings are beneficial to the denstist, front desk staff, hygiene, and assistants.  It is worth the two hours a month and will save you more than that after you implement things you learn about at the meeting.

You can email Deb at for more information and to find out the details of the next meeting.  Hope to see you there.

Backup Assist new Rsync add-on

The backup software that we usually recommend is a product called Backup Assist.  It is stable and relatively inexpensive.  They have a few add-ons, including one for backing up SQL databases and one for Exchange mailboxes plus others.  They have recently released an Rsync add-on for the latest version of the software.  Rsync is a solution that allows you to backup across the Internet to another computer.  What's the big deal you ask?  Why is it different from on-line backup?  You can use this backup to backup to another computer in another location.  You could install your practice management software and digital imaging software on this computer.  You could back up each night to this remote computer and use it as an emergency server if the server in your office crashes.  You could go get the remote PC and be up in running with the previous night data in minutes, if not a few hours, depending on the location of the remote PC. 

There are definitely security concerns with this solution.  Do not use your teenage daughter or son's PC as the remote PC.  Make sure the remote PC is password protected and is in a secure location. 

Remember, you are putting personal information on the remote PC.  If setup correctly, the additional cost of $150 on top of the cost for the Backup Assist software ($249), you can use the same software for local backups to USB drives and a remote, off-site backup solution.  Oh, the possibilities... for remote access

I have been using for over 4 years now and don't know how I could be as effective with out it.  They have a free version as well as paid versions.  The free version allows you to do everything as the paid except for remote printing and remote copying.  The program allows you to connect in remotely from basically any Internet connection with Internet Explorer and control the remote PC.  It is like you are sitting in front of that computer.  I have used this program to fix issues remotely from England, Spain, and Aruba.  They also now have an application for the iPhone.  I have not tried this out yet, but will within the next month or two and I will provide a review here.  If you want to be able to look at your office PC from almost anywhere in the world, is definitely worth a look (not just because it is free).  Of course, this also means you have no excuses for not being able to be productive from many locations.

Have you checked your backup lately?

Five tips for data backup:

1. Check the backup logs daily. You should be able to see that the backup was successful and see the size of the backup increase every day.

2. Have you tried to restore the data from your backup? Even if the logs show the backup is working, have you performed a test restore to see if you can actually use the backup for recovery. If files are missing or are skipped, the backup may be useless. Please do not perform this test restore on your server or if you do not have the knowledge or experiece to do it properly. You could overwrite your data by mistake.

3. Is your backup also off-site? If you do not take the backup off-site on a regular basis then you really should consider adding an online backup service. Please do your research before you use Mozy or Carbonite for your online backup solution. If your office had a fire or someone stole your server and all the tapes/CD's/USB drives, how would you get back up and running quickly?

4. If you can not perform a full backup every night, then you should consider changing your backup solution. Yes, incremental backups work, but see Tip 2 and see how much time it takes and how much fun it is to restore from incrementals.

5. Automate your backup. If you have to manually run the backup every day, then your including the human error factor into the mix. Are backups skipped because you are late leaving the office? Why not schedule the jobs and let it run at night while you use that free time to build your practice?

I am interested to hear other tips. Hope that helps you avoid major headaches!

Stolen laptop recovery

This is a link to a friend's blog post about recovering two laptops stolen from his house.   Great detective work Phil. 

The post made me think about ways to protect business data, not only what is on laptops, but also desktops and servers.  I need to add this to my To Do list.

Kodak Dental releases new iPhone application for Practicework, Softdent, and WinOMS CS

Kodak Dental has released a new iPhone application called Kodak Pearl.  It integrates with Practiceworks, Softdent, and WinOMS CS.  This is not a viewer application, you can do a lot with it.  Details on pricing and configuration options not readily available.  This could be the best news from them in years. 

I hope Dentrix and Eaglesoft are developing something similar to keep pace. 


Dentrix Ceritified Integration Engineer and Saleperson lying to get business

I ran into a situation today while meeting with a potential new client.  Part way through the discussion, the doctor asked me if I was Dentrix and Schick certified.  I told her I was Dentrix certified (I am a Dentrix Certified Integration Engineer CIE), but that I was not Schick certified as Schick does not offer this program.  I checked the Schick site again today to make sure they had not added anything or if I missed something, nothing there. 

Later in the discussion she told me that the other company I am competing against (think Connecticut) that the rep claimed they were Dentrix and Schick certified.  I just checked the Dentrix web site at and they are not listed there.  So, this person lied to the doctor twice.  How can you make such a blatant lie about your credentials to get new clients.  If you suck that bad as a tech or as a company, isn't time to move on to another business? 

Yes, I can understand if the person mispoke or misunderstood the question, that the response may not be correct or could be misinterpreted.  I don't think this is the case. 

I don't blame this on the economy at all.  I have run into similar situations through out the seven years I have been in business with my own corporation.  Am I missing something here?  I don't think this is the way to win new business, but am I wrong in thinking that?  I truly believe I am not wrong in my thinking and I have no intentions of changing.  I don't mean to sound like I am high and mighty and never make mistakes.  Just frustrating to know that I may not get the contract at this and other potential clients because they were mislead by the salesperson.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Dental offices using Twitter and Facebook

Does your office have a Twitter account and Facebook page?  They are free and a great way to connect with patients.  They can also be linked together so your posts show up in both places.  Even if you do not plan on using it soon, at least create accounts and pages with both so someone else doesn't use your name or office name. 

I am in contact with an office in Texas that is using these very effectively and hoping that they will do a webinar with me to discuss how they are doing it and things that have worked for them. 

Each Twitter post (tweet) is limited to 140 characters.  Yes, that includes spaces and punctuation.  Think you could come up with three posts a day with that small amount of information that would be of interest to your patients.  It is also acceptable to repost tweets, just don't rerun every week.  Don't think you have the time to do it, then let me help you.  For the next three days, I want you to write three posts limited to 140 characters on a piece of paper that you think would interest your patients.  Is it someone's birthday or anniversary?  Are you running a promotion?  Want to remind patients about year end?  They don't all have to be dental related.  You can write about the weather, a local fund raiser, or items of interest.  It is OK to show you are human (you are, right?).  I would not have someone ghost write it for you, but you could have staff post items that are clearly from them as well. 

I wrote this here and I will use parts of it on Facebook and Twitter. 

You can advertise your Twitter and Facebook pages on appointment cards, your web site, and on signs in the office.  Do it, it is worth the expense (it is free, remember?).