First things first, I’d like to clarify that we are not vets, and we definitely aren’t experts in diagnostic veterinary equipment. But we are experts in technical systems, IT infrastructure and the ecosystem within which you need all of your technology (including diagnostic equipment) to work.
For the past 15 years we have worked alongside the Veterinary industry, with Practices who are just starting out to those that have been going for years and who just need a bit of a ‘technology refresh’. We help them to decide what technology will work best for their practice, facilitate the sourcing and installation of this tech, then we manage it in the background so that they don’t have to. They are free to concentrate on delivering the best patient care they possibly can.
So it’s safe to say that when it comes to the diagnostic equipment you are putting in your practice we are experts in the ‘habitat’ in which it needs to function. It might be your first time picking diagnostic equipment, maybe your third or fourth, but we have helped practice managers, practice owners and partners with this decision hundreds of times and we’ve picked up a few tips or ‘Technical Considerations’ along the way that we would like to share with you in this article.
There are a number of basic considerations around picking diagnostic equipment that aren’t simply ‘which one do we want’. Like we said before, we aren’t experts so we aren’t able to tell you which to choose, but remember this technology doesn’t work in a vacuum, it sits within your practice infrastructure, which means that there are basic tech questions you need to ask yourself when you are making this choice to ensure that you are able to get the most from your investment. The last thing you want is to find out that the money you have spent has been wasted on expensive equipment that just doesn’t quite work for you or your team.
Below we’ve highlighted some questions you should be asking throughout your decision-making process:
Are you connecting your diagnostic equipment to other external systems?
- If so, the likelihood is that you will be doing so using your practice network. This means that you will need to make sure you have a network point near where the diagnostic equipment will be.
- This is easily addressed if you are setting up a new practice as you will probably be having the building wired to fit your infrastructure requirements, adding on an extra network point will be relatively inexpensive to add onto that list compared to if you are adding it after the fact.
Are there any supporting software requirements?
- You will need to understand what supporting software you will need in place to get the most from the equipment and to ensure that there are no gaps left that need to be filled as this will have both a monetary and time consequence.
- Let’s use the example of an imaging device; what PACS software are you going to opt to use and how does this integrate with your PMS? Is it possible that you enable this to work smoothly that you will need to invest in further software?
Is any other equipment required?
- Like above with supporting software, you will need to understand what other equipment you need in place to get the most from the equipment and to ensure that there are no gaps left that need to be filled as this will have both a monetary and time consequence.
- Let’s use the example of an imaging device again. Will you require storage for the images and if so, how much? Will it be stored locally in an on-site server, or can it be stored directly in the cloud?
What level of technical support is included?
- As with most technology, eventually something WILL go wrong, at which point you will need technical support to get your diagnostic equipment back up and running again and patient care back to normal.
- It’s also vital that your diagnostic equipment is kept up to date with any day to day bugfixes and updates and this could affect the rest of your technology infrastructure. Is this included in the price?
- A good exercise during your research phase is to find out what level of support and cover you will receive from your vendor, whether additional support will be charged as an additional cost and what is included. Bear in mind that it might be that you need to source technical support from somewhere else.
- A good test of this is the SLA’s around the technical support you will require. Ensure that these match your practice requirements, you don’t want to be waiting weeks for something to be fixed/sorted.
Is there a disaster recovery plan?
- Again, as with most technology, eventually something WILL go wrong, which means that you will need a disaster recovery plan in place as a contingency for when this happens.
- Let’s use the example of an imaging device again; if an imaging device goes down for whatever reason, will you need to ensure that the images have been backed up and available to your staff to enable them to continue delivering patient care? If so, is this something that the imaging device vendor provides.
- If they don’t provide this service, then will you need any additional equipment or software to enable this?
Hopefully this article will give you a bit of context for your decision and allow you to make an informed choice that will work well for your practice. You might not always get the correct answer from a diagnostic equipment vendor (they are looking for the sale after all), so if in doubt contact an IT expert with experience of working with vets, as they should be able to advise what will work for your specific circumstance.
As always, if you have any questions our team of Veterinary IT Experts are here to help, you can book in a chat with them at a time that suits you using the button below.