Getting to the root of practice IT

Farid Rafatnia talks about how Microminder made sure he did not get lost finding the right software to update his new practice

Not many dentists have owned practices in such eclectic locations as Stockholm, Caterham and Kilmarnock, but Dr Farid Rafatnia is among them. Now located in West Sussex, he explains why he chose to settle on the south coast and runs through the process to modernise his new practice.

He said: ‘I’ve always preferred the countryside to the city, so when I came to the UK I spent a lot of time in West Sussex, and really liked the cathedral city of Chichester and its proximity to the coast. It has a friendly population and the area is fairly affluent, which is an important consideration when you are looking to develop a private practice.

‘Having found a home not far away, in a location with good schools, it seemed like the natural choice. I found Wittering Dental on the market, just 15 minutes’ drive from Chichester and two miles from the popular family beach of West Wittering. It was ideal and had the potential for improvement and growth I was looking for.’

Completing the purchase in October 2013, the two-surgery practice needed significant investment. ‘The incumbent was retiring and, naturally, hadn’t spent much in the preceding years. I knew I’d need to bring it up to date to create a suitable environment in which to develop the private side of the business, and to provide world class dentistry to my patients.

‘In the first year, I focused on getting a website up and running, and installing a new telephone system. The following year we put in some computers, but I held off undertaking a complete building refurbishment. I really wanted to live with what we had and think through all the options before making any major structural changes.’

Changing software

With the refurbishment plans on the backburner, Dr Rafatnia recognised that to grow his patient base and retain existing patients he needed the right software to manage patient contact, but this was no small undertaking.

‘Changing software is a big decision. It’s inevitable there is going to be some pain in moving over and becoming familiar with a new system can mean a few challenging weeks for the team. However, if you want to develop your practice, having reliable clinical software in place is critical. I wasn’t happy with the system we’d inherited, as it crashed frequently and was difficult to use, so I decided to move the practice to Software of Excellence (SOE).’

To ease the transition and support the team, Dr Rafatnia called on the expertise of national IT company Microminder. Having already assisted with the installation of a server and network cabling at the practice back in 2014, Dr Rafatnia knew Microminder was easy to work with and familiar with SOE.

‘We wanted to hit the ground running with the new software, so it was reassuring to have Microminder’s insight into how it worked. We found its specialist knowledge of our hardware, network and SOE’s software meant it could accurately diagnose any problem, and, where necessary, liaise directly with SOE to get it resolved.

Both at the time and since, Microminder’s knowledge has provided another layer of support and expertise, which we have really appreciated, and meant we don’t have to waste our time and energy playing “piggy in the middle” between software and hardware/network suppliers.’

Assistance on hand

Dr Rafatnia does not underestimate the critical role expert IT support plays in the running of his business. ‘To be honest our computer systems, and the entire practice, wouldn’t function smoothly day-to-day without Microminder. We entrust management of all our backups and Microsoft updates, ensuring all our systems are protected from viruses and our patient data is securely stored.’

For Dr Rafatnia, knowing assistance is on hand whenever it is required is a valuable assurance: ‘If we telephone Microminder to help with an issue, they are always patient with our staff and extremely knowledgeable. In the past, we have been in the disastrous situation to have the whole system crash and, when it was not possible to restore it remotely, they sent a technical engineer to the practice the same day.

‘Everything could easily grind to a halt if the systems aren’t working, so I am completely reassured knowing they are there when we need them. For any busy practice they provide an essential service, which I don’t believe you can afford to manage without. After all, we are dentists, not IT experts.’

With the IT side of the business in good hands, Dr Rafatnia turned his attention to plans for the building’s refurbishment. ‘The premises have been a medical facility for over 50 years, first a doctor’s surgery, and later a joint doctor and dental practice. Now, it is purely a dental practice, but, over all these years, it has never had any lavatory facilities for patients.

‘This was a priority, so, in 2017, we removed the stock room area and converted it into a bathroom, along with plumbing hot water through the whole practice, installing new electrical cabling and incorporating a new decontamination room.

‘The entire practice was replastered, painted and decorated, and the equipment underwent a complete upgrade with purchase of a Kavo cone beam computed tomography unit, intraoral cameras and digital X-rays, as well as luxuriously upholstered dental chairs.’

The Witterings is now a modern practice with a robust IT infrastructure to support day-to-day management of the practice and ongoing growth and development of services. Dr Rafatnia is proud of the how his small practice is evolving: ‘We haven’t got here overnight, but I am confident the improvements we’ve made will enable the business to continue to flourish.’

Find out more about Witterings Dental by visiting

Microminder is an IT support provider, delivering IT solutions, support contracts, and a comprehensive range of protective services. Call 020 8799 6883, visit or email [email protected] for more details.

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