Presented by Kyle Fagala, DDS, MDS
The 2017 AAO Winter Conference is quickly approaching. Our theme of this year’s meeting Technology: Balancing Profit, Lifestyle and Patient Care. It promises to be a meeting filled with information for both newer and established practices to help make those tough decisions on what technology is important to use in our practices and when we may wish to invest in it.
The meeting will begin with keynote speaker Jack Shaw. Mr. Shaw is a world- renowned technology futurist who will be discussing how cutting edge and disrupting technologies will change the way we do business and run our practices in the coming years.
IT guru Steve McEvoy will be answering some of those pesky questions we all have about computer hardware, effective and cost-efficient data backup, and security. In the ever changing world of computers, what you hear at this meeting will certainly be different than what Mr. McEvoy would have talked about even a couple of years ago.
On Friday afternoon we’ll have a lively discussion by Drs. Greg Jorgensen and Neil Kravitz regarding building our practices through social media, websites, and Internet marketing. Their success in these areas has been paramount in growing their thriving practices.
Saturday morning will begin with Dr. Aaron Molen sharing his experience and thoughts on bringing emerging technology into our practices to help create more efficient and more comfortable patient care.
We’re excited to have Drs. Ed Lin and Christian Groth discussing how to integrate some of the latest technology hardware into our orthodontic practices. This includes workflows for using CBCT, Scanners and 3D Printing.
The conference will conclude with Chris Bentson and Charles Loretto with a discussion on how technology can affect the value and profitability in our practices. This should help answer the question about at what stage of practice a doctor might consider investing in advanced technology.
The location for the meeting is at the gorgeous Marriott Harbor Beach Resort and Spa in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The dates are February 10-11, 2017. The schedule is organized in a way to allow some time for afternoon recreation.
There will be plenty of time allotted for attendees to ask questions of the speakers to be sure all bases are covered. To learn more and to register, visit https://www.aaoinfo.org/meetings/2017-winter-conference-technology-balancing-profit-lifestyle-patient-care
Moving your office to a new location is a tedious process involving many tasks and some headaches. A critical moment during the move is the transfer of your main phone number to the new location. Unfortunately not all numbers can be transferred to certain areas. Phone carriers have rules regarding the assignment of specific numbers to defined geographical areas that are beyond the purpose of this blog. Luckily there are solutions to this problem.
One way of transferring your number in an undetectable way is using a cell phone as a proxy. You will need to call your old office phone carrier a few days before the transfer and assign your old office number to a cell phone. This process could take from 3 to 5 days. Once your number has been assigned to a cell phone it automatically disconnects from the physical location of your old office. The last step is to forward your calls from the cell phone to the new office number. This is done through the setting menu of the cell phone, and it can be activated or deactivated on demand. The cost of this transaction will depend on the cell phone plan and the cell phone purchased. Advantages of this solution include that your patients will automatically reach the new office and you will maintain your old number regardless of your new geographical location. Another advantage is that by deactivating the call forwarding function on the cell phone, it becomes an emergency phone for your new office.
DISCLAIMER: Protected Trust cannot and does not provide legal advice, and the following question(s) and response(s)—like everything else we publish—are not intended as legal advice or opinion. If you need legal assistance, you should contact an attorney licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction.
For the purpose of this answer, we assume that “sent” means “emailed.” Yes, it is possible that you could be responsible if something bad happens to the patient’s electronic protected health information (ePHI) contained in the email referral, but only if it happens after you receive it.
Under HIPAA, a health care provider is called a “covered entity”. The HIPAA Privacy Rule defines “treatment” to include, “…the referral of a patient for health care from one health care provider to another.” The Privacy Rule also states that, “A covered entity is permitted to use or disclose protected health information…[f]or treatment…”. Therefore, under the scenario you describe, neither the referring dentist nor you are violating HIPAA by merely sending (disclosing) or receiving a patient’s ePHI as part of a referral. Given this good news, the core question now becomes, “Does a covered entity violate HIPAA by sending (or receiving) ePHI in an “unsecured” manner?” Again, the answer is mostly good news, but BE VERY CAREFUL AND READ THE REST OF THIS RESPONSE!!!
First, we have to know what makes ePHI “unsecured” vs. “secured”. Then, we need to know whether HIPAA requires ePHI to be secured (seems like a silly question, but you’ll probably be surprised). And, lastly, if HIPAA does not require ePHI to be secured, then what risks do you have if you face by choosing to leave it unsecured?
Unsecured vs. Secured ePHI
The HIPAA Breach Notification Rule states that, “Unsecured protected health information means protected health information that is not rendered unusable, unreadable, or indecipherable to unauthorized persons through the use of a technology or methodology specified by the Secretary [of HHS] in the guidance issued…”. The HHS guidance emphasizes the use of encryption to make ePHI secure. So, technical details aside, the simple answer is that “unsecured” means unencrypted, and “secured” means encrypted.
HIPAA: Encryption Is NOT Required…What?!?
That’s the title of one of our blog posts from Feb.-Mar. 2016—republished by AAO, which we highly recommend that you read immediately (here or here). Although you would be crazy to not use encryption when emailing ePHI—because the risks are enormous, it is true that HIPAA does not literally require encryption (again, read our blog post here or here right now). Rather, what the federal government decided to do was strongly encourage the use of encryption by making it a get-out-of-jail-free card (apologies to Parker Bros.). Under the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule, you must notify certain persons and/or entities whenever you have a breach (e.g., a loss or theft) of unsecured (unencrypted) ePHI. For example, depending on the breach details, HIPAA requires notifying not only the affected patients, but also the federal government (HHS) and prominent members of the media. But—and here’s the GREAT NEWS—if you have a breach of secured (encrypted) ePHI, you do not have to notify anyone. Why? Because the loss or theft of encrypted ePHI—which cannot be read without the key(s)—is not considered a breach at all. So, encryption=no breach=no notifications=no problems for you.
Risks of NOT Encrypting ePHI Emails
If you’ve already read the above-mentioned blog post—and, if you haven’t, stop now and do so immediately (here or here), then you already know the frightening list of risks you face for not using encryption. In summary, in the event of a breach of ePHI:
No Encryption = Notification(s)
Notification(s) = Investigations, Fines, Lawsuits, PR Disaster, and Lost Business
Investigations, Fines, Lawsuits, PR Disaster, and Lost Business = Wasted $,$$$,$$$.
- Never email ePHI without using Protected Trust Healthcare Email Encryption.
- Require all of your fellow covered entities (e.g., health care providers and insurers), other business associates, and patients to use Protected Trust Healthcare Email Encryption.
IMPORTANT REMINDER: As a Protected Trust client, all of these third-party persons and entities can communicate securely with you, free of charge, and forever. No catch!
- To comply with HIPAA, make sure everyone in your office has their own Protected Trust Healthcare Email Encryption account (shared accounts are not permitted by HIPAA).
By Dr. Ed Lin
Indirect bonding was first introduced to orthodontics over 20 years ago and has become an integral part of many orthodontic practices and orthodontic labs worldwide. The four reasons/advantages for its inception are: 1) Indirect bonding has been widely viewed as giving the orthodontist the ability to achieve more accurate bracket placement on a static model and not having to deal with the clinical challenges with direct bonding on a patient, 2) The doctor can perform the final check for bracket placement at his/her own leisure and not under a set clinical schedule, 3) To improve clinical efficiency with decreased doctor chair time at the full bonding appointment, and 4) Finally, for improved patient comfort due to decreased time which the patient is in cheek retractors.
Having utilized indirect bonding in our practices for over 17 years now, these four reasons/advantages are without a doubt why all four doctors in our practices utilize indirect bonding for all of our patients. However, there are some disadvantages that are also present with conventional indirect bonding such as: 1) Distortion of the impressions leading to inaccurate models/trays, 2) Distortion of the pour up of the impressions resulting in inaccurate models/trays, 3) Short clinical crowns are not ideal for conventional indirect bonding and need to be direct bonded especially in the mandibular arch, 4) Brackets can be bumped prior to curing on the model leading to incorrect bracket placement, and 5) Seating of the indirect bonding tray is technique sensitive and can lead to over seating or under seating of the trays resulting incorrect bracket placement.
With the advancements of technologies in dentistry with intraoral scanning, 3D digital virtual bracket placement software, and 3D printing, these technologies have now given us the capabilities in orthodontics to improve upon conventional indirect bonding with 3D digital indirect bonding. Currently, there are 4 companies that I am aware of in the US market that offer 3D digital indirect bonding: OrthoSelect’s Digital Indirect Bonding System (DIBS), Arcad Digital Indirect Bonding System, Great Lakes Orthodontics’ Exceed, and SureSmile’s Elemetrix 3D Printed Indirect Bonding System. All four of these companies have proprietary cloud based software for management of patient case submissions and all of them accept intraoral scans.
For Arcad and Great Lake Orthodontics, upon final approval of the virtual bracket positions in their proprietary software, they will 3D print the models with specific indexes for very precise and accurate bracket placement on the 3D printed models. Once the brackets are placed manually on the 3D printed indexed models, their labs will then create an indirect bonding tray through conventional lab techniques and are then ready to be utilized for indirect bonding for the patient. The advantages with both systems are that they are dealing with digital data with an intraoral scan so there are no issues with a poor impression. Also, with 3D printed models, there are no issues with a poor model with air bubbles or blebs on the model. As a result, the conventional indirect bonding trays are more accurate and precise.
For OrthoSelect’s DIBS and SureSmile’s Elemetrix indirect bonding systems, upon final approval of the virtual bracket positions in their proprietary software, both of these companies will 3D print the indirect bonding trays. The brackets are then manually placed into the 3D printed indirect bonding trays for both systems and are then ready to be placed on the patient. OrthoSelect’s DIBS and SureSmile’s Elemetrix systems have the same 2 advantages as Great Lakes and Arcad’s systems, as they are only dealing with digital data with an intraoral scan, so there are no issues with poor impressions or poor model pour ups. However, since only the indirect bonding trays are 3D printed, both OrthoSelect’s and SureSmile’s systems have 2 advantages over Great Lakes and Arcad – 1) There is a significant time savings on the lab side of things since there are no 3D printed models, only the indirect bonding trays are 3D printed and 2) There is no human error brought into production of the indirect bonding trays since they are 3D printed.
Our practices are now making the transition from conventional indirect bonding to 3D digital indirect bonding with SureSmile’s Elemetrix 3D printed indirect bonding tray system so I will give a brief overview of how we utilize this in our practices. We have a 3 Shape Trios 3 intraoral scanner at each practice location. With the “Insane Mode” of the Trios, we can intraoral scan 2 arches with a digital bite registration in a total of 1 minute. We then upload the intraoral scan through the cloud to SureSmile. SureSmile will then segment, clean up, and create the 3D digital model and we will receive the digital model back on our end in 1-2 business days. We then assign the virtual brackets (.018 American Empower stainless steel or clear) and virtually position them on the digital models. Upon final approval of the virtual bracket placements, we then order our SureSmile 3D printed indirect bonding trays. The indirect bonding trays are then 3D printed and then shipped to us. We currently schedule 15 days between the intraoral scan for indirect bonding and the full bonding appointment to allow time for setup and approval, 3D printing of the trays, and for shipment to us. In the future, I hope that we will have the capabilities to 3D print our own indirect bonding trays in house, which will give us the capabilities to have quicker turnaround time with the indirect bonding trays and we will not have to deal with any shipping issues. Because SureSmile’s 3D printed indirect bonding trays are rigid, there is also an added benefit with their indirect bonding trays as we do not have to worry about over seating or under seating of their trays as you do with conventional indirect bonding trays, which are softer, as a result of the silicone and polyvinyl siloxane materials which are used to make them. The total cost for a full indirect bonding case with SureSmile’s Elemetrix Indirect Bonding System is $105 which is very affordable and attractive to me especially considering the added benefits which I have stated above.
My personal opinion is that any of the 4 digital indirect bonding systems, which I have stated above, are a step above and are an improvement upon any conventional indirect bonding systems currently available. If you are currently utilizing conventional indirect bonding or are considering transitioning to indirect bonding in your practice, I would strongly encourage you to evaluate the digital indirect bonding systems which are currently available today. As with all other aspects of our lives, technology is changing the way we all live and is helping to improve how we do things in everyday life as well as with our practices.
Augmented reality is the integration of digital information with our physical senses, (e.g., touch, smell, sight). This technology is far from new and has multiple uses in the commercial market but has struggled to find a foothold in the consumer market – that is until recently. On July 6th, 2016 Niantic released the Pokemon Go game app and within 20 days it had already been downloaded 75 million times while producing $10 million in revenue a day for Niantic. The popularity of this augmented reality game is not relegated to kids, as you may find adults as well as young patients playing Pokemon Go in your waiting room or clinic. It’s still to be determined if it will simply be a fad or a long-term success, but regardless, there are several things we as orthodontists can be doing to leverage this augmented reality app for the benefit of us and our patients.
The basic premise of this game, and other location based games, is that certain tasks can only be performed at specific physical locations. In Pokemon Go the goal is to capture as many Pokemon, (small exotic looking creatures with magical properties), as possible so that they can be trained up to compete against other players’ Pokemon. A casual walk down the street with your Pokemon Go app will reveal Pokemon randomly hopping across your path. In addition as you walk around you’ll discover the location of PokeStops and Pokemon Gyms. Pokemon Gyms host the battles between players and their Pokemon but PokeStops serve as one-stop-shops to purchase items to improve your gameplay
PokeStops present a unique opportunity to orthodontists and other savvy marketers. One of the items available for purchase at a PokeStop is a lure. Lures can be purchased and activated at a PokeStop to attract Pokemon. The lure lasts for 30 minutes and attracts Pokemon to gather at that particular PokeStop for easy capture. For example, I once stumbled upon a crowd of 60 people sitting in an amphitheater by the Willamette River in downtown Portland. I assumed they were awaiting the start of a performance and asked a nearby vendor what show it was. He explained there was no scheduled show and there were simply two PokeStops located side-by-side which both had active lures. The crowd had congregated to take advantage of the lures to easily capture Pokemon.
PokeStops have been preassigned by Niantic at locations of local significance. These can be popular stores, parks, art installations, schools, museums, etc. In a few cases I have heard of orthodontists who have been lucky enough to have their offices marked as a PokeStop. Unfortunately as of right now Niantic is not accepting requests to have specific locations deemed PokeStops so there is no way to influence their location.
The marketing opportunity exists for orthodontists who are willing to leverage nearby PokeStops to attract players. Since most orthodontists won’t be lucky enough to have their offices marked as PokeStops you’ll need to download the app or ask a patient where the nearest PokeStop is to your office. Then, on a Saturday, for example, you could set up a marketing table at the PokeStop and activate a lure to attract players. Of course if the PokeStop is on private land you’ll need permission from the landowner or if it’s on public land you may need a permit from the city or county first. If you’re willing to drop multiple lures throughout a specific time period it could be worth the effort. To support your efforts I suggest you post flyers around your office and post on social media the exact times and location you will be activating lures at that specific PokeStop. Word will spread among local players and you may be surprised by the response.
If you are unable to coordinate a marketing presence at a nearby PokeStop there are other ways you can leverage Pokemon Go. Simply placing signs in your windows notifying patients and non-patient passerbys that Pokemon have been spotted in your lobby may encourage more people to open your door. Asking patients if they’re playing Pokemon Go and engaging them in conversation about it may also help you continue to build rapport with them. Keeping up to date with the latest advances in virtual entertainment is not only good for your patients but may also be good for you.
Many orthodontic offices have made the switch to Voice over IP (VOIP) phone systems, where calls are transferred over an internet connection as opposed to traditional phone lines (public switch telephone networks – PSTNs). When I first switched to a Voice over IP Phone system, I mainly considered it a cheaper phone option that could better handle multiple office locations. However, here are a few other advantages I have found to these phone systems:
1st: Phone numbers are not tied to a physical phone line at a certain location. This is probably the largest benefit of Voice over IP, but it can be a challenging change when people are used to traditional phone lines. This means that a call to your main office number can ring at any or all of your office locations at the same time (or a totally separate call center!). It means that once a call is answered, additional incoming calls are still shown as calls to the main number – they do not roll over to another line. It means that while multiple calls are being handled, someone else can still place an outgoing call using the main office number. We still keep a separate phone number for each office location for advertising, but it greatly simplifies how many phone numbers are utilized. One other great benefit is that cell phones can support Voice over IP calling, so they can become an integrated part of your phone system. On my phone, I can either dial normally using my cell number or dial using my Voice over IP app that will show up as a call from my office. This means you can have staff easily forward calls from a dentist or you can return emergency calls without anyone realizing you are calling from a cell phone.
2nd: Phones can be integrated with your computer. This can include things like click to dial from internet browsers or your practice management software, and pop up notifications on your screen of who is calling. Please note that the integration with practice management software definitely depends on the practice management company and the Voice over IP provider. One tip is that some companies use TAPI (Telephony Application Program Interface) for integrating the phone and computer, which will typically work with on-premise systems but not always with cloud-based systems.
3rd: Scalable. This along with the lower initial costs are why I would absolutely recommend new practices to look at Voice over IP as a phone system. There are no large initial costs with many Voice over IP systems if you look at a cloud-based option and there are no large costs to update the system as you grow. Also, adding a satellite office to the system is as easy as adding additional phones/users and adjusting a couple settings.
4th: Cloud Based management. Have to close the office for a snow day (yes, I’m from Wisconsin)? Add a message from home. Forget a holiday message when the office is closed for a long weekend? Add it from home. Staff doing recalls on a non-patient day? Track the number of outgoing calls from your house. Current Voice over IP systems typically make it very easy to switch call-flow, change messages, and view reports online. While these often can all be done with a traditional phone system, I never utilized them because they were difficult to find. Now I will look back at call volume and missed calls at different times and different days of the week to ensure we have the staffing to answer calls well.
5th: Handling call flow. This is part of cloud based management but important enough to mention separately. This type of system is very flexible, so carefully think through how you would want calls answered in an ideal world and you can likely adjust the system to make it happen. For instance, if you want team members responsible for checking in and out patients to only answer the phone if someone else is not free, have their phone ring only if it’s not answered after 2-3 rings. When our satellite office is open, we find it better to have that number ring only at that location first, but we still open it up to all phones in our main office before it goes to voicemail because we want the call answered if anyone is free!
Some final benefits are how easy it is to upload new hold music or marketing messages to the phone, to record calls, and to email a voicemail transcript or audio file. Regarding cost, most companies advertise around a 40% reduction in overhead by switching – we found slightly less than that but it did reduce cost.
The only negative to Voice over IP is reliability. It is dramatically better than it was 5-10 years ago, but due to its inherent nature of NOT being a dedicated phone line, it is typically not quite the equal of traditional phone lines. Insufficient internet bandwidth may still lead to dropped calls or poor call quality. Overall, though, our Voice over IP system has allowed our office to more effectively manage calls at our office locations.
Google my Business is another way Google has made it easy for us to let prospective patients know about the level of care we offer. It complements your website by giving your practice an identity and presence on Google. If you previously used Google Places for Business or Google+ Pages Dashboard, you may not have noticed it, but your account has already been automatically upgraded to Google My Business. The information you provide about your practice in Google My Business will appear on Google Search, Google Maps, and Google+ to those searching for an orthodontist. And if you had multiple Google+ Pages they will all show up on the Google My Business Dashboard as long as they are associated with the same email address.
The Google My Business Dashboard makes it easy to manage multiple locations from one central webpage. All you have to do it go to https://www.google.com/business/ and sign in using your email address and password associated with your previous Google+ Pages. From your Dashboard, you will be able to do a number of things.
For each of your locations, you can add, edit, and verify your practice information. This includes your practice name, phone number, website, and hours. When you do so, it will automatically update as well in Google Search and Google Maps. For each of your locations, you can easily add pictures of yourselves, your logo, the exterior of your office, the interior of your office, and any other photos you feel will help others learn about your practice. When people search Google, they can learn a lot about you before even going to your website. From your Dashboard, you can also post directly to your Google+ Pages.
In the Reviews section, you can see all the reviews patients have posted about your practice. The best part of this is that you can respond to those reviews. Experts in this arena recommended that we respond to at least three reviews a week. This can be to thank patients for especially kind compliments, but more importantly, we should promptly respond to any reviews that are less than stellar. Since negative reviews may inaccurately reflect the level of care you give, it’s important to attempt to set the record straight. In doing so it’s important to thank the reviewer for their feedback and respond in a way that is generic without referring directly to that patient’s experience in your office and their treatment details. Author Helen Overland stated “Respond to reviews, don’t let them sit. If someone sat outside your store telling people about your bad service, you would address it, right? So don’t let people sit outside your virtual door on Google Maps telling people about your bad service without addressing it. Addressing complaints is just good business.” And Google My Business makes it easy to do so.
In the section called Insights, you can learn how people are finding out about you, from what type of device they are viewing your profile, their demographics, and much more insightful information that may help in your marketing efforts. You can also see viewer activity trends such as how many people call your office from your Google profile, how many click to your website, and how many are asking for directions to your office.
No longer do you have to log in separately to Google Analytics to see viewing trends on your practice website. This is now right there within Google My Business. Google Analytics will tell you a lot of useful information such as how many new viewers, how they found your website, viewer demographics, length of their visit, and page views. Having this information on hand can help you in tweaking your website for the most effective and useful visits for prospective patients.
Like many things Google, Google My Business is free to use. If you choose to make Google ads however, that’s a paid function. These are the ads that show up on the top or right side of a Google search. And Google My Business allows you to manage your Ads from your Dashboard since they should be under the same email.
From your Google My Business Dashboard, you are able to learn about how to incorporate a Virtual 3D tour of your office onto your Google listing. These can also be placed directly onto your practice website.
By downloading the Google My Business app, you can perform most of these functions right from your mobile phone.
I have personally found Google My Business to be a great tool in my efforts to monitor and improve our practice’s online presence. It has consolidated many functions into one place, saving time and energy. I encourage you to look into it and see how it can help you.
It was not that long ago when we all relied upon our friendly postmen and postwomen for the delivery of our letters. Today the United States Postal service is scaling back mail operations in favor of package delivery, and the majority of our written communication is transmitted electronically. Is the delivery of healthcare, and particularly orthodontic care, headed for a similar fate? A Computerworld article, cited research by Deloitte, which projected 75 million of 600 million appointments in 2014 with general practitioners would involve electronic or eVisits¹. “Electronic visits or telemedicine are comprised of electronic document exchanges, telephone consultations, email or texting, and videoconferencing between physicians and patients. The vast majority of eVisits, according to Deloitte, are likely to focus on capturing patient information through electronic forms, questionnaires and photos.” In the state of Texas, new legislation has opened the door for physicians to be compensated for remotely providing care to children through a video connection to the school nurses’ office². Market forces including an expansion of access to care, increased efficiency, and financial incentives are driving all of these changes. Just as eMail though has not completely eliminated the need for our postal service, eVisits are not likely to eliminate the need for all direct patient to physician interaction. However, there can be no denying that technology is changing the manner in which healthcare is delivered and our specialty will not be immune.
It may be hard to conceive how we will remotely align teeth. However, the 1999 introduction of digitally created tooth moving clear aligners (Align Technology, Inc.) opened the door to the Orthodontic digital age and fortunately or unfortunately that door cannot be closed. Recently, while attending an orthodontic meeting overseas, I noticed a new company that seemed to be garnering a great deal of attention, Dental Monitoring (dental-monitoring.com). This company claims to be the “first monitoring solution in orthodontic care.” Patients capture their tooth movements with their smartphones and orthodontists can remotely monitor and direct treatment via an app. Whether or not this company is the first is irrelevant. It will certainly not be the last. The same efficiencies and cost advantages that eVisits offer physicians in the general practice of medicine also apply to orthodontic practices. To be clear, I am not advocating that remote care is better or even desirable. The purpose of this blog is to raise our members’ awareness and open discussions regarding technological changes in our profession. In the last 20 years, we have incorporated electronic patient records, CBCTs, intraoral scanners, and even 3D printing into our practices. As we all adapt to the expectations of the Millennial Generation what will our practices look like 20 years from now?
1. Almost one in six doctor visits will be virtual this year. Computerworld: Mearian, L. August 8, 2014.
2. Law could bring remote doctor visits to schools. The Texas Tribune: Rocha, A et. al., August 23, 2015.
By Steve McEvoy, Technology Consultant
Microsoft has recently released the latest version of its operating system (OS) for PCs – Windows 10 (let’s call it WinX).
This is the first time Microsoft is offering the upgrade for free to existing users of Windows 7 and 8 (until July 2016 – and maybe longer). They are intending to make upgrades to their OS less of a big deal in the future, giving it away and moving to a more automatic update format. Apple and Android have been following this model for years. It’s a good idea for the most part – keeping your OS up to date means it has the latest security & features.
Many of you may have seen a little notifier popping up on your PCs prompting you to reserve or upgrade to your free copy of WinX now. With great joy and vigor many of you have done just so. But is this a good idea? Staff clicking on it can trigger a disaster if this isn’t thought through.
Upgrading any Microsoft OS in the past has typically been an ordeal. You have to consider several things before you undertake an upgrade:
- Will the new OS have drivers that support my hardware (video card, sound card, etc.)? Often they don’t for older hardware (even systems a year old may not have drivers). Checking with your hardware vendor in advance is a good idea (for example going to the support website for Dell or HP and look to see if WinX drivers are available for your PC).
- Will it work with all my peripherals? Often you need specific OS drivers from Vendors to make these work. Check with your vendors in advance to be sure they are available for things like:
- Document Scanners
- Signature Pads
- Credit card scanners
- X-Ray systems (this is usually a HUGE problem – they lag far behind)
- Will the applications I own work on WinX? You need to check with each vendor in advance if they full support WinX. Many don’t immediately after the initial release (and still aren’t as of this writing).
- Practice Management software (like Dolphin, Orthotrac, Dentrix, etc.)
- X-ray system software (like Romexis, Cliniview, Anatomage, etc.)
- Antivirus software (most need upgraded to support WinX)
- Backup software
- Even Microsoft Office (older versions are not fully supported)
- Will I have to retrain my staff? The changes in the user interface often give less adaptable staff fits.
Initial reviews of WinX are mixed. They’ve added some new features (Cortana assistant and the new Edge web browser) – most of which don’t matter to a Dental Specialty Practice. They’ve changed the look and feel of the Desktop and Start Menu system yet again (the Metro interface is gone thankfully). As with any new version of their OS, lots of little problems are being discovered as it rolls out to millions of users.
What would I do?
My stance is typically to wait out the initial release and let others debug the 1.0 version. At the time of this writing Microsoft has released build 1511 (which is essentially Service Pack 1), and this generally marks the ‘safe to go in the water’ if you’re interested.
For your Home I’d say the risks of upgrading are pretty low if you have fairly recent hardware and you might want to give WinX a try. I’d still take time to confirm if your peripherals (like your printers) are compatible.
For the Practice I would recommend waiting until there was a compelling reason to change. I believe it’s easiest on the staff if ALL the PC’s in the Practice are on the same version so they have a consistent experience and don’t have to keep adapting. If you were getting all new PCs, I’d seriously consider making the change. If you have a fleet of Windows 7 PCs that are working fine, I wouldn’t bother.
If you have your heart set on jumping in, involve your IT person. They can do the checking for you and advise you on a pathway and any bumps in the road that might be expected.