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Thursday, 25 July 2013 08:27

Is today the day your dental office will have a system-down emergency? Featured

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post 53 picSummer weekends.  We all love them.  We spend time with our family and friends, doing the things we enjoy. 

We return to our office on Monday morning feeling refreshed and ready to take care of our patients with renewed energy. 

We put our things away, sit down in our comfortable desk chair and turn on the server.  And, we wait.  No response.

Thinking that we did something wrong, we click the power button off, then on.  Hoping that it will respond with something. 

Anything. Anything, other than nothing. 

And still, nothing.  

Then our worst fear sets in.  Our server is down.  That means we cannot access our computers.  That means we don’t have a schedule.  That means I have to call our technician for help. 

Our technician.   Where is the number?  It’s on the computer.  

If your office hasn’t experienced this scenario, consider yourself lucky.  This isn’t a question of if you will experience a system-down emergency, but when.  Hardware can only run for so long, and eventually it will decide that today is the day to be put to rest.  And if it isn’t at the whim of your hardware, another disaster can be lurking around the corner of your office at anytime.  Such as a squirrel that likes to chew on wiring (yes, this has really happened).  The question is: What are you going to do when it is your day?

“Good luck happens when preparedness meets opportunity.”  Bret Harte

Preparation before a system-down emergency is key in making the IT recovery process easier, smoother and faster.  A system-down emergency can be caused by hardware failure, natural disasters, environmental hazards, power outages or even social unrest, any of which can result in no access to your computers.  Having a plan in place, and keeping it up to date in preparedness for the worst case scenario means that when panic sets in, your system-down time will be measured in hours instead of days.  

In a previous blog File Backups in the Dental Office authored by Bill Hockett, he discusses the significance to your practice to keep daily backups of your system offsite or in the cloud.  This blog is well worth revisiting in creating your system-down emergency plan.  If you are unsure if your system is doing backups as needed, and that they are restorable, then call your technician to verify that the data is there and can be restored if needed.  

Also in your recovery plan should be a list of all software that your practice uses in day-to-day operations.  Anything that is installed using a CD, the install discs and installation instructions should be retained with critical information such as software licenses, current version, product key and vendor contact information. 

Think about the software that you come into contact with such as Microsoft Office, Windows, Small Business Server, dental practice management software, Adobe, QuickBooks, banking and payroll software.  Any special settings, parameters and passwords that are needed to install the software should be documented, and as always recommended, stored offsite in a secure location.  

Typically a practice keeps a list of all hardware and equipment for tax purposes at the office to retrieve when the accountant requests it.  However, a copy of this list needs to be quickly retrievable from another location or source. 

During a disaster, it is critical to have a complete list ready so that if the hardware or equipment is destroyed, the replacement is expedited and recovery vendors and insurers can respond to requests that can be made without forgetting key components.  Details such as the asset class, description, make, model, serial number, date acquired, purchase / lease price, loan information and if it is retired with date should be indicated.  Think about hardware such as servers, routers, workstations, dental equipment, etc.

Being able to access your systems from offsite is much more than a convenience, and is being relied upon for inclement weather, illnesses or circumstances that impact getting into the office.  Having remote access to your computers and phone systems can prove to be of high value when called upon.  

In your systems-down emergency plan you should include your property carrier information and liability plans, building manager, payroll, benefits administrators, banking, online credit card processor, etc. 

Documenting your technical and software support vendors, with phone numbers and support contract agreements in time of crisis is one of the first phone calls that would need to be made.  Make sure any staff member(s) that could be making the call has the authority to provide a credit card for support services if needed, and understands what the support contract does or does not provide. 

Syncing phone contacts with your mobile device can provide that extra layer of having information at your fingertips when needed.  

Creating a plan before the opportunity arises is not just giving yourself some good luck, but also a peace of mind in knowing how you and your staff will respond when the day arises that your server is unavailable for any reason. 

Preparedness is always a right click.

Read 7754 times Last modified on Friday, 28 April 2017 08:59
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