You will have probably heard that from the 25th of January 2016 the NHS Dental Services processing systems will be taken offline for 4 days while they update their systems. There is no doubt that this is a much needed update to a creaking legacy system but this does throw up some interesting questions for dentists - how do they submit or what do they do with claims during the downtime?
Fortunately for our users, Dentally is built upon much more modern cloud technologies, which means we can release updates without having to take such drastic measures. In fact Dentally seamlessly pushes updates and new features several times a day and collates them for you once a week. It was this flexibility which allowed us to quickly plan and adapt when the downtime was first announced.
Other dental software providers will deal with the downtime in their own way but given the short timeframes and past behaviour I expect many of them will simply hide their heads in the sand and give you the usual connection error. They will leave it in the users hands to manually resubmit all of their claims once the NHS processing systems come back online. This is a frustrating experience for all involved.
At Dentally we'll be doing it a slightly different way - our users will carry on as normal and we will submit all claims when the NHS servers come back online! As a full service practice management software provider we believe it is within our remit to help our users as best we can, especially when external factors such as this come into play. As such, we have informed all our NHS customers that they can carry on as normal while we handle everything behind the scenes. Indeed the only visible sign that our NHS users will see will be a slight delay in their claim status changing to 'accepted'. This allows our dentists to spend more time with their patients providing great care and a lot less time clicking 'retry'.
I have sincere admiration for what NHS Dental Services have built. Processing over a whopping 40 Million claims a year while staying compatible with architectural decisions made decades previously and maintaining the system is no mean feat. Hopefully this update will bring an end to downtime in the future and be a much easier system for dentists to use.