E. J. Neiburger, DDS
Though computer technology, hardware and software have changed over the years, the actual process of computerization has not changed. Today, dentists still are falling into traps and making the same fundamental errors in computerization that they did in years past. Here are 12 time-proven suggestions that will save you considerable effort and fortune:
Thou shall be organized before (and after) you computerize.
Commentary: A computer only amplifies the state of your office. If you have a disorganized office before you computerize, then after you computerize, you will have a computerized, disorganized office.
Thou shall shop and compare prices and service before you buy. Always request and call references, for only those who use a system know the truth.
Commentary: Call references who are using the system and ask (a) what they like, (b) what they don`t like and (c) if they would buy it again.
Thou shall not believe promises (vaporware), for words come cheap. If you cannot see it, touch it or watch it operate, then consider that it does not exist.
Commentary: 90 percent of the computer industry never materialized; it was just hyped.
Thou shall buy software first, then hardware.
Commentary: The most critical feature of a system is the software. Select your program first and then choose hardware that will run it.
Thou shall only consider hardware and software produced in large quantities. It is the user who debugs and perfects the system. More users-more perfection.
Commentary: To make an analogy, try to get inexpensive parts and service for a limited-edition, foreign car.
Thou shall know your system. Black boxes of which you know little will cost you much.
Commentary: If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.
Thou shall not buy the latest or newest of anything. It is the first soldier in line who usually gets shot.
Commentary: Most computer systems have bugs and glitches. Some firms let their customers debug the system.
Thou shall know that all computers have bugs; spot-check output often.
Commentary: A bug can be caused by anything-a programming error, electric spike, cosmic ray, etc. If there is an error, it can be substantial.
Thou shall not develop your own software unless you have lots of money, time and nothing else to spend it on.
Commentary: Grief knows no bounds.
Thou shall not fix it unless it is broken. You can never get all the features you want, working in the way you want, for the price you want to pay.
Commentary: There comes a point in all programs where correcting minor defects (bugs) will create bugs of a more serious nature. A 95 percent perfect program is the best that is humanly possible.
Thou shall back-up often.
Commentary: It`s not if you will lose data-it`s when.
Thou shall beware of the learning curve.
Commentary: The most expensive part of any system is the time it takes for you to understand it. Choose the most simple and easy-to-operate system.
The author practices dentistry in Waukegan, IL. The publisher/editor of Dental Computer Newsletter, he has written numerous books and articles, and lectured on computer technology.