Cloud Computing and Working from Home

Cloud Computing and Working from Home

At least I don’t have to commute…

There’s no doubt that the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and the COVID-19 illness it can cause have had an impact. In fact, it’s not overstating it to say the world is currently upside-down and inside-out as a result of it. And right there in the front-line of confusion is dentistry.

Although we’ve only recently been told to provide only emergency treatment, I was sent home early this month by my employer as my diabetes and asthma made me ‘at risk’, even though I am principally office-based. And the clinic I nurse for once a fortnight was immediately cancelled as the colleague I work with is pregnant, so also classed as at risk. At the moment, I’m at home with no work to do. I’m hoping that my head of department will authorise me to work from home when she returns from her annual leave on Monday. But with the special care service I run reduced to emergencies only (emergencies make up only a tiny part of our work), what can I do to play my part?

This must be a question being asked of many nurses, practice managers and dental administrators. So here are a few ideas that you might consider, though, for the most part, they are only possible if you have a cloud-based practice management systems such as Pearl Dental Software.

Photo - Cary Cray-Webb and Alfred
Cary Cray-Webb and her commuting companion Alfred

Home-based Dental Admin Tasks

You may have only a rota of skeleton staff seeing patients needing emergency treatment but now is your chance to catch up on some of those tasks you don’t always prioritise in a ‘normal’ week.

Triage and Appointment Booking

Divert the ‘phones to a home number and carry out your triage at home. Where a patient meets the criteria for an emergency appointment, a cloud-based system will allow you to book it on your home PC. Your ‘on duty’ colleagues should be able to see the booking immediately. If you’re new to the software, see our tutorial on booking appointments.

Cancelling appointments

If you still have appointments to cancel and re-make, cloud-based systems enable you to do this from home. You can access the diary to cancel patients in the same way that you can make new appointments. You might also run a report so you can prioritise patients who haven’t had a check-up for a long time, and those who your clinicians have specified require shorter than usual recalls so you can find them new slots sooner, and maybe move others to enable this.

Patient list maintenance

When was the last time you had an opportunity to go through your patient list and verify its accuracy? Use your reporting facilities to create lists of patients not seen for a certain period of time. You could then approach them to ensure they should still be registered with you. You will then be able to identify patients that can be archived. The best place to start is Filtering as this gives a full overview of your patient list. You can then add different criteria like ‘last appointment date’ to see who’s not been in for a long time. We have a handy tutorial on filtering here.

And you could also build contact lists to re-establish communications with patients once the current situation is resolved and more normal practice resumes. You might even use such a list to mail your patients with ideas about oral health practices during isolation and illness.

Also, use your patient list to help refine your marketing plan – we are, after all, at the turn of the fiscal year. If this current ‘lock-down’ is relaxed when planned we’ll be in mid-April with much of the year ahead of us. Look at the relative performance of last year’s marketing activities and check you have allocated your marketing budget accordingly.

FTA Management

Most cloud-systems will allow you to create a Failed to Attend report. Take the time to dig into this a bit more and re-evaluate your reminder policies. In Pearl go to Reports -> Appointments Tab -> FTA Appointments.

Activity reports

Take a look at the treatments that have been carried out through the year. Find the treatments carried out regularly and those that don’t feature as often. See if you can work out how much you are earning from these treatments against the time spent. Can you make improvements to your appointment setting and private treatment pricing that would make you more efficient? Go to Reports -> Clinical -> Coutn of Treatment Types to find the number of treatment type proposed on a Treatment Plan between two dates.

Practice statistics at a glance. Check them out in Cockpit!

General admin

Now is the time to chase debtors. And if you offer NHS treatments, look for UDAs that have not been claimed. Identify open courses of treatments and close any that can be so you can complete your claim submission.

Tidy up your emails, and in particular, look for referrals that need attention. The current disruption is going to mean that dozens of patients will need their referrals to be rearranged, so identify them now and take action where you can.

Confidentiality is still important

The crisis has not meant the suspension of Data Protection and GDPR regulations. If you are going to allocate work to staff to be done at home or work from home yourself, make sure you follow your data protection policies.

Where staff are using their own equipment, ensure they have suitable security software and sign a non-disclosure agreement covering access to patient and clinical records. You can then grant appropriate system access for them to work from home.

Why Pearl?

Pearl is the perfect platform for this purpose, and there are several testimonials and case studies from clients who have implemented remote access using Pearl Dental Software.

The Pearl Support Desk is still open as normal, though 2nd-line support requires a bit more telephone juggling as the whole team is working from home.

For more information about (and technical support for) home working call us on 0116 275 9995 or email

Meanwhile, keep safe and embrace the joys of ‘homeschooling’. For those of you who, like me, have a lengthy commute on normal days, enjoy an extra hour in bed.

See you on the other side.

Throwback to our Christmas picture together (we only do one group picture a year)!
Cary Cray-Webb