What do you MEAN I have to buy NEW computers?!
Every dentist with computers in their office has or will need to replace them at some time. This is never a welcome prospect especially when it’s a surprise that’s uncovered after the purchase of a high dollar piece of equipment.
Here are three of the most common questions I get surrounding computer replacement.
1) I JUST got these computers!
I hear this A LOT. It’s easy to forget just how long you have actually had the computers in your office, especially when they seem to be running well. Luckily, most PC manufacturers assign service tags or serial numbers to the pcs they sell. This number allows us to check the date of purchase and configuration of the PC letting us know exactly how old it is and what components are inside. We check all the components to make sure they have the power to run the software and hardware to its full potential so that your network stays running as problem-free as possible.
2) I haven’t had any problems why do I need to replace my computers?
The useful life of a PC in a high demand environment like a dental office is much different than that of one in other small businesses. Typically, every three years, practice management software will have one major update that boosts the minimum requirements of the pc to the point it requires a serious upgrade. Digital x-ray will do the same once every 4 years with even more stringent requirements. Because of the amount of time it takes to create software updates (sometimes years) these companies aren’t writing new software for the current pcs we have, they are looking to take advantage of the processing power that will be available when their update is ready to be released. Many practices think that if they just put more ram in it, everything will be fine.
Again, when software updates are created, they are built to take advantage of the processing power that will be available to make the software run at its peak ability when its finally released for installation, not when it’s created. Adding ram and expecting your pc to run like it did when you first got it is kind of like putting retreads on a Ferrari. Sure, you can drive it, but it won’t have the same ride or handling. Offices utilizing computers and digital x-ray should expect their pcs to perform for approximately 4 years. Asking them to perform beyond their ability (useful life) leads to all sorts of issues like slowness, errors, dropped connections, blue screens, etc. These issues slow and sometimes stop production in your office which, in the end, is always more costly than just replacing the pc at the appropriate time.
3) So how am I supposed to keep track of all of the tech in my office AND practice dentistry?
Quarterly business reviews with your IT provider are key to staying on top of the tech in your office and making sure that your network is performing at its peak ability. During these reviews your IT provider should address recurring issues, review the age and status of all the PCs and network components in the office, plan for the replacement of any that are in need (thus reducing or eliminating surprise downtime in your office), and discussing any technology you plan to implement in the next year. They may even suggest Hardware as a Service (HaaS) as an alternative to purchasing hardware.
In my next article, I’ll discuss HaaS and the benefits it offers over traditional hardware purchases.
-by Dez Merrow, Technology and Integration Consultant, DentalPC