Why Budgeting for Regular Upgrades is Crucial

Budgets are always a delicate balancing act between anticipated practice revenue and the expenses you must incur to keep your business running. It’s when you get to the ‘nice to haves’ in budgeting, though, that decision-making gets challenging. It’s invariably true that your revenue isn’t going to cover every item you’d like to have, which is where trade-offs take place.

For example, it’s tempting to budget for an upgrade to the latest, greatest clinical equipment over the more mundane ‘workhorses’ in your practice – such as your computer hardware. However, these essential pieces of hardware are what tie the various components of your practice workflow together.

Many veterinarians believe that hardware lasts five to seven years and budget accordingly. However, veterinary practices are tough operating environments for computer equipment. In a busy practice with constant use, coupled with excessive pet hair and dander, your hardware is likely to last only three to five years.

Small and medium businesses are renowned for being able to stretch their dollars when they have to. However, there is a cutover point when saving a bit today by cutting corners can cost a lot more tomorrow. Trying to run a busy practice that depends on fast computer processing and reliable hardware is one of these scenarios.

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Five key factors to consider when budgeting for computer hardware

  1. What is industry best practice? According to Gartner Research, most healthcare providers spend between 3% and 5% of revenue on IT infrastructure each year to keep their practices running smoothly.
  2. Consider a rolling replacement plan. Plan to replace one or two of your oldest computers each year. This will help avoid unexpected crashes, help maintain staff productivity and ensure your hardware can run the latest software versions and integrations. Setting aside smaller amounts each year is also more manageable than having to come up with the significant one-off cost of replacing a crashed server. Supporting this approach is a study by Techaisle that estimated a business with five computers could save $1,500 in the first year by replacing the two oldest machines, due to reduced downtime and lower maintenance costs.
  1. Consider the impact of not investing in hardware upgrades. Older computers are unlikely to support newer operating systems, which can slow your computer’s performance over time and drastically affect your staff’s daily workflow. This can cause delays in the waiting room, a poor customer experience, and even customer attrition.
  2. Consolidate computer support services. Busy practice owners and managers can end up contracting with multiple companies for overlapping services such as IT support, marketing tools, and customer portals. Save costs by reviewing what support services you’ve signed up for and consolidate them all with a single provider.
  3. Link technologies. Syncing your practice technologies can save time, reduce errors and pick up missed charges. An example is integrating your practice management software with your payment processing and clinic inventory systems.

Hardware that’s nearing the end of its life can eat away at your cash flow and practice productivity, without you even realizing it. Older hardware is prone to crashes that can result in losing critical patient and client data, or downtime that impacts clients and patients in the practice, or looking to schedule.

Failing to budget and plan for regular upgrades to your practice computer hardware is risky and leaves your business exposed to financial or reputational risk. Most suppliers offer competitive pricing packages that let you tailor payments to suit your cash flow.

Covetrus’ hardware solutions scale to meet your practice needs, and keep your equipment guaranteed by the same company who is providing your practice management software and more.

Learn more about the vast hardware options available at Covetrus by completing the form at the top of the page.