Thank goodness that the days of all-paper veterinary practices are essentially over. Now, modern practices rely on computers as a key part of operations. However, everything needs to be up to access patient records, process payments, communicate with customers, pay staff and other important activities. Because this often happens without hiccup day after day, we often underestimate the value that reliable hardware brings to our business.
In a survey by International Data Corporation of more than 700 businesses, over 80% reported that they experienced hardware downtime in the past year. Sometimes, these events are simple technical hiccups that need only a reboot. Other times, if the hardware suffers a more serious problem, downtime can last for many days. While most believe computer hardware should last five to seven years in an ideal environment, veterinary practices are not the ideal environment. With constant exposure to pet hair and dander, veterinary computers generally only lasts for three to five years.
Just as the spread of diseases can be prevented by regular vaccinations, you can easily prevent downtime with a modest, regular and recurring investment in new equipment. This approach often costs you less over the long run than waiting until your hardware begins disrupting your practice operations.
Nevertheless, updates do come with challenges, so to justify the effort and spend, here are some of the main benefits of upgrading your hardware:
New hardware provides your practice with better security. Cybersecurity is becoming increasingly important for veterinary practices, who are finding themselves targeted by cyber-criminals. New machines with modern operating systems are one of the best ways to help neutralize these attacks.
Older computers are unlikely to support newer software and applications, which are generally built to be compatible with the latest hardware. Older hardware eventually reaches a point where its manufacturer no longer supports it, making it more vulnerable to security breaches and crashes. By upgrading, you’ll get the ongoing support your team needs.
Faster operating speed is one of the immediate benefits of upgrading the hardware in your practice. The latest hardware is faster, has shorter boot-up times and operates more efficiently. This results in less downtime in your practice and less time spent completing routine tasks. Which, in turn, frees your staff up for valuable face-to-face interactions with clients and patients.
The upfront costs of new hardware may well be less than the expenses associated with dealing with hardware crashes and downtime. In a study by Techaisle, a business with five computers – two older than three years old – could save up to $1,500 in the first year by replacing the two older machines. This saving comes from lower maintenance costs and reduced downtime.
Using the latest hardware gives your staff morale a boost, as they won’t be experiencing constant computer interruptions, slow speeds and embarrassing freezes at the front desk while trying to process client appointments and payments. They will be able to complete computer-based tasks quicker, with greater productivity.