07 Dec Why Do We Do Software Updates?
Does your dental practice management software need an update?
Like so many things in the wonderfully wacky world of software, the word ‘update’ can mean different things to different people. However, one thing is clear – it’s a word that gets used a lot.
I like to distinguish between ‘upgrades’ and ‘updates’. For me, an upgrade is to make a significant change. In the case of software, it would perhaps be changing from an older, out of date system to a newer, more functional or easier to use system. For example, you might upgrade an old implementation of Carestream R4 to the latest version of Pearl because your business has expanded, you want better support, and a system that works well across the whole patient journey. In the case of hardware it would be perhaps replacing old PCs with newer designed machines running the latest version of Windows. That then introduces the concept of updates, because if you upgrade your hardware, you might find that you need to update your software.
Software updates in my definition are responses by the software authors to environmental changes. So let’s have a look at the main environmental entities likely to cause an update.
Most desk top PCs run an operating system created by Microsoft called Windows. Surprisingly, Microsoft Windows is not optimised for running Pearl, but is instead designed to run hundreds of thousand of different software applications: from dental practice management software to word processors, to computer aided design systems and MoT testing stations. Even video editing software and music systems for your kids to listen to while/instead of doing their homework. That means Microsoft is constantly tweaking it, and every so often issuing a completely new version; for example the recent move from Windows 8 to Windows 10. These constant changes mean that we have to make updates behind the scenes to ensure Pearl continues running efficiently, accurately and securely.
Pearl is designed to support your working practices and help you maintain compliance with standards set by the GDC and other regulatory bodies. If there is a change in regulations, best practice guidance or legislations, we review how that affects the work-flow with Pearl and update the software accordingly.
We are constantly looking for ways to make Pearl better. Many of these come from ideas sent to us by our users. Or else from the requirements of a prospective user that needs additional features because of their unique business model; for example, extensions to management information features or improvements to a report. We regularly review these and include the best ideas in a regular update. If you have an idea for an additional or feature or an improvement, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We might also add or improve feature to keep us competitive with developments in the market place. For example, mobility was never an issue in dentistry until very recently, but now that it’s being discussed more widely, dentists running a small chain are telling us they want the flexibility to do much of their business administration and appointment management work at any location. We’re therefore building this facility into the next version of Pearl.
Pearl is exceptionally good at integrating with imaging systems, CEREC-type systems and other business systems. But in order to keep it that way we have to respond to the changes made by the creators of those systems. Often we don’t find out about those changes until someone calls our support line to tell us something has stopped working. Once we fix it we include that fix in the next regular update.
Does that answer the questions?
I hope that give you some idea about why we issue frequent updates to your Pearl dental practice management software. As well as having to respond to frequent regulatory and business environment changes, modern software is a complicated thing, with many interconnections and interdependencies on other people’s products.
If you would like to know more about our update process or if you have a specific question, please go to the contact us page and let us know. As always, we’re happy to help.
MD – BHA Software Ltd