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Case Study: Smile Artistry

A dentist's job is full of fine margins. From deciding what treatment is necessary to interpreting x-rays, most decisions need to be made quickly and efficiency for the patient's benefit.

However, if progress is halted or delayed, this can have serious implications for both patients and the dentist themselves. This is the situation that Brisbane-based dental practice Smile Artistry found themselves in back in 2012.

The cosmetic and general dental practice performs high-end dental procedures for more than 6,500 clients across south-west Queensland. With a staff of around 20 and six dental chairs, Smile Artistry is a busy environment and one that relies on systems and processes to be constantly working.

History of problems

Director and dentist at Smile Artistry for ten years, Dr Paul McKay, said the problems began at the company just over two years ago.

For a number of years, Smile Artistry managed to work alongside a single-man company that was in charge of its IT infrastructure. However, the provider was unable to keep up with the growing size and scope of the dental practice and problems soon began to arise.

"We had a lot of failures of the system. On any given morning, the system might be down and that would slow down our production with our patients," he explained.
"We wouldn't be able to view x-rays, wouldn't be able to run programs, wouldn't even know who would turn up on our appointments."
Mr McKay said backups weren't being performed properly and computers were failing. He described the situation as a "mess".

Mercury IT connection

The executive team at Smile Artistry realised their business needed assistance and reached out to other dental practices in the city. The Endodontic Group - which was already using Mercury IT - recommended the dental practice to contact its providers.

Mercury IT was able to organise an onsite visit to assess Smile Artistry's situation. The old provider had already said they needed to upgrade the single server, but Mercury IT soon realised more needed to be done.

Technical assistance

Mercury IT discovered some historical problems with its network cabling and switches. The team recommended that Smile Artistry's entire infrastructure be overhauled to upgrade their practice management system and ensure that it could run IT issue-free - something that is important when time is of the essence.

To achieve this, Mercury IT replaced networking equipment while also re-cabling the entire data network. This included installing three servers to replace the current failing one. The virtual networks or vlans were configured to separate traffic from the workstations and print traffic so the system would run faster and more efficiently.

Mercury IT replaced all of Smile Artistry's PCs and workstations to a standard operating environment. This change meant the same hardware featured across the practice and was controlled and monitored for security.
Smile Artistry also provided a customised wireless network - separate to the infrastructure - that was secure and could benefit performance management and productivity.

Major improvements

Smile Artistry has been very impressed with how its relationship with Mercury IT has developed. The new IT infrastructure has allowed it to convert to dentistry software that they were initially held back from and move in high-end 3-D imaging systems.
Mr McKay said that they can now access simple things like emails and images, wherever they are in the practice.

"We are more productive with our time because we can now look at x-rays in real-time, rather than wait for a few minutes," he said.

As the system doesn't break down, Mr McKay stated they are more professional and communication with clients is much better.

Recommendations

Mr McKay said Mercury IT's total scope of the practice and fast service were key to improving Smile Artistry's infrastructure so greatly.

"I would recommend them because they can come in and give you peace of mind that you are going to get good value and a very well engineered IT system for the business," he said.

However, the depth of knowledge and local Queensland expertise of Mercury IT stood out the most for Mr McKay.

"They have a special person for each part of the process, which really makes a difference."

How Mercury Helps

Mr McKay said Mercury IT's total scope of the practice and fast service were key to improving Smile Artistry's infrastructure so greatly.

"I would recommend them because they can come in and give you peace of mind that you are going to get good value and a very well engineered IT system for the business," he said.

However, the depth of knowledge and local Queensland expertise of Mercury IT stood out the most for Mr McKay.

"They have a special person for each part of the process, which really makes a difference."