Hardware falls into three categories: home, business and enterprise class. Home systems are for intermittent use and entertainment, while enterprise hardware serves medium to large companies. Dental practices fit into the business class category. Business class computers are not found in retail stores. Unlike consumer products, they are built to run day-in and day-out. Currently, Dell and HP are the only two recommended computer systems for dental offices. In the event of a failure, their support system can deliver and install parts either the same or next day.
All other dental office technology is dependent on a solid hardware platform:
“Business Class computing can save you many thousands of dollars on labor by being fast and efficient, but it also can create a better system of patient recall, treatment presentation and chairside imagery, as well as sales, practice metric reporting and many other process improvements software suites such as Dentrix, SoftDent and EagleSoft bring to the table. None of these tools can begin to work for you and pay for their price tag if you do not have a proper platform in place first.”
A business class Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks (RAID) server is needed to handle dental imaging and a paperless office. RAID is a system of three or more redundant hard drives that allow business to continue if one should crash. A backup alone does not prevent downtime; RAID does. The cost and warranty for RAID technology should be included with the server, not tacked on separately.
In addition to the necessary hardware, a well maintained network requires IT support. Even well-known technology consultants like John Flucke rely on IT support staff to maintain their practice network.
- Premium practice management software and imaging systems will not see a return on investment without a solid hardware platform. Don’t try to get by on home class computers or servers, use business class.
- Use a RAID server with three or more redundant hard drives to prevent any business down time in the event of a failure.
- Utilize IT professionals to maintain your practice network.
Hinman, Paul (2010, September 23) In a class to last. Dental Products Report.