Computer meltdown?

What would happen if your computer system suddenly gave up the ghost?  Would it be a temporary problem, soon sorted thanks to your trusty IT support?  Or would it mean a complete loss of data, and weeks of struggling to get back on track?

Your answer should be the first one, because as a business you should have IT experts you can rely on, and you should have all your data backed up on a daily basis.

Sadly, far too many practices would still fall into the second category.  In some respects, it's understandable - you have enough to deal with every day (emergencies, staff problems, difficult patients, new rules and regulations to get your head around, etc) and it is inevitable that some things will be perceived as less important and will fall by the wayside.

But you need to view your computer system as a vital part of the practice and put in place proper procedures for backing up data.  Quite apart from anything else, computer problems can have a negative impact on patients, especially if they happen too often.  Plus you could lose valuable marketing data such as contact information for new enquiries.

Back everything up once a day - emails, patient records, documents, spreadsheets - whatever you use, back it up.  Backing up online is ideal, but secure online systems can be pricey.  A good alternative is an external disk drive or large capacity USB caddy.  Ideally you will have two - one that is in the practice overnight, running your back-up out of surgery hours, and another at home with you, just in case of theft or fire.  You swap them around each day so you always have a back-up that is no more than two working days old.

We'd also advise working with a trusted IT company, someone you can rely on to help out in an emergency, and who can give you fast replacements should you need them.  They're not always easy to find, so ask around for recommendations.

While you're at it, you might want to check your back-up for your personal PC too, especially if you have irreplaceable digitial photos on there....

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