by George Nott

Smiles all round as dental group appoints inaugural CIO

Aug 22, 2017
Business IntelligenceCareersCEO

ASX-listed dental practice group Pacific Smiles has appointed its first chief information officer.

David Williams joined the company at the end of 2015 as ICT manager, and has now been promoted to the inaugural CIO role, reporting to CEO John Gibbs.

In an announcement to staff and dentists, Gibbs said the appointment reflected the growing importance of data to the organisation.

“For organisations today, information is one of the most important assets and this is why CIO’s such as David are so critical to long-term success and growth,” Gibbs wrote.

The company has grown rapidly since Williams joined, expanding from 55 centres to 70 by the end of the company’s financial year last week. Another 12 centres are due to open over the next 12 months.

At last count some 350 dentists, assisted by more than 800 support staff, attend to nearly 600,000 patient appointments at Pacific Smiles centres each year.

“While there was a managed service provider running servers and networks, the company’s vast amount of data was spread across locations and not easily visible as a whole. Furthermore, the back office functions were challenged by the scale at which the company was growing,” Williams told CIO Australia.

Pacific Smiles inaugural CIO David Williams

Williams has already implemented a data warehouse and various automations, and is now building out a business intelligence platform.

“Individual centres could perform their own reporting, but as the company grew, it became challenging to get overall visibility of information particularly at the corporate level, combined with increasing effort to produce routine reporting. The data warehouse brings all our centre data into one repository, allowing timely, accurate reporting at both high and finely-grained levels, for management across the business. We are gaining deeper insights but at the same time reducing the amount of manual effort required,” Williams explained.

“As our core patient management system is a Windows platform, we implemented a custom-developed C# application to stream our data into an Azure SQL Server environment. This is then further transformed into Azure Data Warehouse with Power BI on top for dashboards and visualisations,” he added.

Williams has had a long career in IT, including as CIO of mining services provider Bluestone Global (now defunct), a tutor for the Australian Computer Society and as a technology journalist.

“Pacific Smiles is a strong brand in my region, and importantly, is a positive health-focused brand. The company has been my family dentist for years so I was immediately interested when I saw an opportunity here,” Williams said. “I also felt it was a very opportune, strategic time to enter, as the first in-house IT specialist, occasioned by the company’s growth.”

Over the past year the company has also launched a dentist and patient engagement database and a patient communication mobile app.

“In his relatively short time with Pacific Smiles, David has revolutionised our data and technology systems, saving hours of time from routine procedures and providing access to information that was previously hidden,” Gibbs added.

“He has advanced major, company-transforming projects such as the data warehouse which will ultimately provide more timely and accurate information to staff and dentists throughout the whole organisation.”