The Postgraduate Dental Education Office (PGDEO) for South Yorkshire and the East Midlands Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education deaneries

PDO – SYEM Courses Web App

The Postgraduate Dental Education Office (PGDEO) for South Yorkshire and the East Midlands Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education deaneries , based in Sheffield, co-ordinate among other things, continuing professional development (CPD) for registered dental practitioners. Part of this process is the review and acceptance for suitability of courses run by centres throughout the region. To quality for CPD status, these courses must meet certain criteria and for many years these have been captured in an Access database (known as the Admin Database) developed by Illuminaries more than 10 years ago and managed by staff within the PGDEO. This required that course organisers at the centres submitted course proposals on paper forms to the PGDEO and the details then entered into the database. In a typical year there are between 550 and 600 courses to be reviewed for eligibility to the CPD programme.

A previous piece of work Illuminaries had done for the PDO, a web application to allow dentists to record significant events, gave rise to discussions about how we might create a browser app to allow course organisers to enter course data into the Admin database directly. This presented a number of technical challenges. The Admin database resides behind the N3 firewall but dental practices, even those taking NHS patients, do not have access to N3 (in contrast to GP surgeries.) Also, we didn’t really want to build a web app which connected to an Access database for reasons of performance and security.

The solution architecture we developed was to build a stand-alone web application using ASP.NET MVC, connected to a SQL Server database, both hosted on the WWW by Illuminaries. Course data captured by the web app into the SQL Server database are then uploaded to the Admin database using custom web services (also hosted by Illuminaries) developed with Microsoft Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) and called up by a lightweight Windows forms application, which connects to the Admin database and synchronises the course data between the two databases.

In the two years since launching the Courses web app, it has been well accepted by both the course organisers and the PGDEO staff. More recently, the deanery website (at www.postgraddentalsyem.co.uk) also developed by Illuminaries, has allowed dentists to browse currently approved courses for their area. Although at the present time it is not handling online bookings, this may be an area for future development.

"We had been thinking of implementing an online system to manage course approvals for some time but options were limited due to security considerations. Illuminaries were able to deliver a solution that works within our IT structure and meets all of our requirements. The added bonus of a dynamic link with our public-facing website means that new courses are advertised instantly on approval

The application is working very well and we continue to receive positive feedback from new and existing users."
Daniel Kaye, PDO SYEM

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