It’s easy to understand why some veterinary practice owners and managers are a bit hands-off when it comes to updating computer hardware. After all, it makes good financial sense not to spend the money on equipment that still gets the job done, right?
In fact, this approach can place your business at risk in a number of ways. Modern practices rely on their computers being up and running to access and update client and patient records, process payments, communicate with customers, pay staff and a number of other important activities.
Using a computer past its reliable life span can create other serious problems:
- They’re less reliable, making you vulnerable to the ‘blue screen of death’ at a time you least expect or want it.
- They run slower, wasting staff and client time. Even those few seconds waiting for an application to run add up over time.
- They’re outside their warranty period, meaning unplanned expenses if they break down.
- They become incompatible with your practice software over time.
- They’re vulnerable to viruses and malware, as security patches can’t be installed.
- They limit your practice to upgrading your software version resulting in missed opportunities for increased efficiency and new software features.
Given these risks and missed opportunities, how important is it to you that your practice hardware is up to date? Here’s some tips to consider about how often you realistically should expect to replace your hardware.
What do experts recommend to replace vet practice hardware?
Many veterinary practice owners and managers believe their computer hardware will last five to seven years, which agrees with guidance from the IT industry. However, in a busy veterinary practice with constant use and in an environment with excessive pet hair and dander, three years is a more realistic expectation.
These time frames are also dependent on a couple of factors. Firstly, your computer hardware needs to be regularly maintained and updated, in much the same way you need to service your vehicle to increase reliability and extend its lifespan.
Secondly, it needs to be fit-for-purpose. This means you can’t use a computer designed for home use in a professional business environment. This is because they are built to a basic specification are attractively priced by using low-cost components from suppliers that don’t prioritize quality or reliability.
Business-grade hardware is built with higher-performing, more reliable components and capacity. This means they can handle a variety of business tasks simultaneously without slowing down to a crawl. They are also often available with extended warranties and better support options that mean you won’t be left high and dry trying to find replacement parts if something breaks.
These business-grade computers are best sourced from a reliable, trusted technology partner who knows your business and industry and can advise you on the most suitable equipment for your practice. A Covetrus™ team member can help you find the hardware that’s right for you.
Plan and budget ahead for hardware replacement
The key takeaway here is that you should plan for the rolling replacement of your computer hardware every three years and make sure you include this in your annual budget cycle. And, you shouldn’t consider this a grudge purchase – there are some tangible positive financial outcomes from replacing your hardware before it reaches its end of life.
A study by market research firm Techaisle estimates that in a five-computer business with two old computers and three less than three-years-old, the business could save $1,500 in the first year by replacing the two older machines. This is due to a combination of reduced downtime and lower maintenance costs.
Also, for veterinary practices in particular, outdated hardware can prevent your practice management software from working properly or keep you from taking advantage of new updates and advancement is platform features. Regular upgrades to your hardware means regular upgrades to your software. Updating your software can result in quicker functionality, enhanced efficiencies, and new features that streamline your practice.
Budgeting and planning for regular upgrades to your practice computer hardware can reduce risk and keep your business performing at its best.
Get in touch with us today about our hardware and data backup options for veterinary practices.