How Can Patients Contact You During an Office Relocation?

By Dr. Dan Grauer

member_on-phoneMoving 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.

You’re Missing Something Important… (…in your backup)

Steve McEvoy, Technology Consultant


The first thing I check when I start to work with a new Practice is their backup. Most Practices have something in place, but more often than not I find the single most important piece of data is being missed – the Practice Management Database. Imagine if your Server crashed and you had to use your backup to recover all your precious data, and at the end of the recovery your IT person explains “There you go, it’s all restored – oh – except for your Practice management data that is lost forever!” Your Practice would be severely impacted and the financial loss would be enormous. Taking 4 minutes to read the rest of this article and then pass it along to your IT person.

The Challenge
Most backup routines merely come along and make duplicate copies of files sitting on your hard drive. Imagine creating a Microsoft Word document. First create a new blank Word document and save it to your desktop. Open it, type a few new paragraphs, but you leave it open and don’t save it to the hard drive. If you run the backup right now, the backup will catch the new empty document that is saved and completely misses the newer data still in memory (but not saved to disk yet).

Many Practice Management programs (such as Dolphin, Orthotrac and Ortho2 for example – listed alphabetically) use a sophisticated database called Microsoft SQL Server. Backing up SQL Server needs a special technique. Just like in the Word document example, SQL Server is always open and keeps the latest changes to your information in memory or log files. If you just come along and ‘copy’ the database files you won’t have anything useful to recover with (bad news!). This is usually what I find is happening, people are running backups but aren’t realizing they need to take extra steps to backup the SQL database.

The Solution
The Practice Management companies know about the challenge and all of them have documented solutions for you to follow. The problem is who actually reads the manuals? This is a case where you (or your IT person) needs to. Ask your IT person directly “Are you properly backing up the Microsoft SQL Server database that my program uses?” If they don’t know for sure the answer is ‘yes’, the simple solution is to ask them to call the support team of your Practice Management Software company and ask for a little advice. They will have a solution:

  • Dolphin has a ‘Safe Backup’ solution that can run automatically as part of your end of day or end of month
  • Orthotrac has a database backup routine that can be set to run automatically and keeps copies of the database for each day of the week.
  • Ortho2 has a database backup application that can be setup to run as often as you like.

You’ll notice in my descriptions there are a lot of ‘cans’. You have to be sure these are setup and working. Make sure the backup files that these routines make are then swept up in your routine file copy backups. In a crisis, these backup files can be recovered from your regular backup and then the SQL database can be restored.

Final Thoughts
If you use a Cloud based Practice Management you don’t have to worry, they are doing it for you. If you use an Internet Backup the same problem can exist. Many Internet backup companies like and don’t normally backup SQL databases, so you should check this out since your SQL database is your most important piece of data worth backing up. Personally I would recommend you take an extra step – make your own SQL database backup in addition to the one you configure with the Practice Management Software. Microsoft SQL Server includes the ability to schedule SQL backup jobs on its own, and I would recommend that you setup two backups (one at noon, one in the evening). Two backups are better than one!


But I Thought I Was Backing Up My Stuff!

Author: Steve McEvoy, Technology Consultant

For 3 years Michelle had worried about the office backup.  Each day she would bring in the oldest off-site tape from home in a special case.  She would swap it for the one that backed up last night, and then carefully label it with the date and place it back in the case and carry home that night. She slept well knowing her backup was done.

I was hired to take over the network maintenance, and the first thing I did was ask about the backup.  She explained her process to me and I was impressed.  Standing at the server I asked “What software do you use?”  A quizzical look appeared on her face, and I knew there was trouble. Two minutes of checking revealed that there was NO backup software, and EVERY tape she ever changed, labeled and took home were completely blank.  She turned grey.

I have seen this story repeat many times in all sorts of variations.  The result is still the same, a Practice without a backup of their precious data.
If you stop and think about it, do you have a nagging feeling about your backup?   Are you 100% certain it’s working?   Are you certain it contains ALL your Practices data?
Let me jump to my recommendation now:  Proceed on the assumption you have NO backup until proven otherwise.
Be sure All your Data is on the Backup
You probably have most of your data in one place – usually the ‘Server’.  Backup the Server and you have everything right?  Not usually.  Often your Practice Management database has special backup needs.  Users have terrible habits of saving documents to their Desktops or My Documents folders.  2D and 3D CBCT X-ray system save their data to the PC you use to run the machine unless you adjusted it otherwise.    Applications like Invisalign, OrthoCAD and Geodigm save their downloaded data to the local PC by default.
How are you supposed to know where the data is?  You aren’t expected to, but you should press your IT person to find out and know for sure.   Your job it to tell your person what programs you use, and ask them to specifically determine what needs to be backed up for each and how.  It might take them an hour or two to figure it all out, but that will be time well spent.  Push your IT person to really, really think about your data and make sure it’s all backed up.
Verify your Backup is working by doing a Routine Restore
So once you think you have it all backed up, you can’t trust the backups are working reliably.  Too many times I have gone to use a backup only to find it’s corrupt or incomplete.  The cure to this is to periodically test your backup by going through the process of actually restoring a few critical pieces of data each month.  This tests the software, backup media, and that someone knows the steps for recovery.   I’m not talking about using the ‘Verify’ function most backup software has built in, I am suggesting doing an actual restore of your data to an alternate location.  I don’t usually restore all the data, but a few of the most important pieces (maybe your Practice Management database and Quickbooks data file).
Ask your IT person to do this on a routine schedule, and then show you the restored data to prove to you the system is working.  It won’t take long and is well worth the trouble to know it’s working.
Monitor the Backup on a Daily Basis
Even with doing a test restore Monthly, what if the backup malfunctions the day after?  You could be surprised with losing 29 days of data should a disaster strike.
Most modern backup software programs have the ability to email you a status update each day.  They will tell you if they worked, were incomplete or failed.  Regardless of what they tell you, it’s good information to have.
I recommend that you assign the duty of checking this email to one of your responsible staff members and make it clear that it is a VERY important job responsibility and must be reviewed each day.  It will take 15 seconds on most days when things are working, and on days when it doesn’t they should be given the authority to contact the IT person to remedy the situation.   Usually this is the person also tasked with carrying out the off-site backup (you have an off-site backup right?).
You should be worried about your backup.  Without one, your Practice is at risk.  Imagine what it would be like to lose all your data.  Could you ever completely recover?
Assume you don’t have one and call your IT person now.  I bet they find something that needs improved.