Why should you get an IT Assessment for a dental practice you’re hoping to buy? Because you must know how much it’s going to cost to upgrade computer equipment. You’ll need this information when negotiating a price for the business.

According to a survey in September 2018 by TD Bank, dentists are optimistic about the future. More than two-thirds expect that their practice revenue will grow over the next two years. This is prompting them to make more strategic investments in technology for their practices.

Upgrading IT equipment is a top priority for dentists today. Nearly half of the respondents in the survey (42 percent) plan to invest in new technology equipment. And it also showed that many are concerned about keeping up with the latest technologies.

This is the competition you’re facing, and you must keep up with technology to grow your dental business. This includes updating the technology for any dental practice you’re planning to purchase.

What Technology Upgrades Could You Face When Buying A Dental Practice?

When considering buying a dental practice, you should consult with an IT professional who specializes in the dental industry. A thorough IT Assessment will ensure that you know what technology you’ll need to upgrade or replace, and what it will cost you.

With a knowledgeable and reliable advisor on your side, you’ll understand the short and long-term implications of technological outlays. This information should be considered to ensure that you negotiate the best price.

A New Server

You may wonder if you need a server. This answer is yes you do. You can’t rely on computers alone to store your practice management software. A server is more stable than computers. Plus, your entire team can access the software in your server from their computers.

An IT assessment will take into consideration the software you run to determine the amount of RAM your server requires. If you need to use cone beam computed tomography, you need a server with 16-32GB of RAM. Plus, if you run Dentrix, Practice Works or Eaglesoft, these require a minimum of 8GB of RAM. The cost of the server goes up with the amount of RAM.

New Computers & Other Hardware

Here are some questions you should ask: How many computers does the practice have, what kind are they and how old are they? Can they handle the software that you use? An IT assessment will answer these and other questions.

Then you must address the number of computers you’ll need:

  • Front Desk Staff: You’ll need one for each of your front desk team. It’s helpful for them to have dual monitors so they can use one screen for their administrative work and billing, and another for scheduling appointments. The number of computers you need for your new practice will depend on how many rooms there are.
  • Operatories: You’ll need one computer for each operatory. You may also want to have an additional monitor, one for the hygienists or dentist, and the other in front of the patient to be able to educate, motivate or entertain them.
  • Your Offices: You’ll need a computer for your administrative purposes, patient consults, and meetings with your employees. If there’s more than one dentist in your practice, you may have an office for each of you with a computer for each so you don’t have to share. Again, this is up to you and your preference.
  • Sterilization Room:  You may ask why you need a computer here. But consider how this helps when your dental assistants or hygienists need to check something on a computer but they don’t want to do this in an operatory in front of a patient. It may be something as simple as checking their next appointment or searching for lab cases or order supplies. Again, it’s your preference but if you’re going to be purchasing computers in bulk, now is the time to think about this.

Mobile Devices

Does the practice use mobile devices? Do they come as part of the package? You’ll want your staff to have access to mobile solutions like tablets and smartphones. Most dental practices are going mobile today. Their staff can move throughout the office and input or access data from the server with a computer tablet. Also, ask about Mobile Device Management. With this service, your IT provider can wipe the data from a mobile device if it’s lost or stolen.

How Powerful Do Computers Need To Be?

Upgrading the RAM to a minimum of 8GB is probably your best bet. This way you can run most of the applications you’ll need. Upgrading RAM is pretty cheap to do. But an IT Assessment can determine if the current computers are worth keeping.

A New Router

You’ll need this to support the WIFI in your office. If the current dental practice isn’t set up for WIFI, this is an important investment you should make. It provides your staff with the ability to access the Internet and also move around the office and tap into what they require with a tablet or iPad.

You’ll also want a guest WIFI set up for your patients who are in your waiting room so they can also access the Internet. This is expected today.

You’ll probably need a HIPAA compliant business class router. Depending on how large the practice is, you may need additional access points for the WIFI for total coverage. The IT Assessment can figure all of this out for you.

Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS)

Ask about this option. Perhaps you’d rather lease your computers and hardware than purchase them outright. More dentists in the DC Area are opting for this. Why? — The benefit of HaaS is that you can conserve your capital. You won’t need to spend any money upfront for new computers and other hardware. Instead, you pay an affordable monthly fee based on how many computers you lease. This gives you the flexibility to add on as you grow or remove computers that you find you don’t need. The money you save can go into purchasing the new practice.

Network Cabling

An IT Assessment will also take into consideration the current network cabling and if it’s sufficient for your needs. Since the practice you’re considering is in a commercial building you must remember to follow building codes. An IT Assessment will take this into consideration and what’s required for installing low voltage wiring.

Make sure the dental office is equipped with CAT6 Cabling. This is what modern dental offices require today. It’s composed of 4 pairs of copper wire for high performance, reliability and security. It supports a 10 gigabit network and Ethernet that transmits one gigabyte per second. You’ll also save on money when you add computers to the network. It costs almost nothing to do this if your CAT6 Cabling is already in place.

The cost for this will vary depending upon what’s already in place and any additional cabling that you might need for new computers. You’ll need cable access for anywhere you want Ethernet ports or VoIP phones. You’ll also need a drop for your Panoramic X-ray/CT machines. Better to plan for all of this now before you negotiate a price for the practice.

What About Software?

Is the practice management software included in the price? Is it the software that you use? What about dental imaging software and imaging equipment? Does it come with the practice? An Assessment can help you answer these questions and more.

IT Security

You can’t afford to cut corners here. With hackers looking for ePHI to sell on the Dark Web, you must ensure any practice you purchase has the highest levels of IT security. You need this for HIPAA compliance as well.

Antivirus on computers isn’t enough. You need a layered, managed security service that remotely detects intrusions and irregularities and resolves them immediately. With Managed Security as a Service from a professional IT service company, you’ll have a layered defense where threats and exploits are detected and eliminated before they steal or lock up data.

Does the practice have IT security through managed firewalls, antivirus and web/email protection. You don’t want just to purchase a firewall and set it up yourself. You’ll also need both onsite and enterprise-based private cloud to store your confidential data. A backup service from a reputable IT provider is your best bet. This way you’ll know that your data is backed up reliably and always recoverable. An IT Assessment will consider this.

CCTV & Access Controls For Security

Does the practice have these in place? If not, this is another item for your wish list.

Video surveillance is one of the best ways to deter crime in the workplace. Unless you use video surveillance, you’re just opening your doors to criminals, both from without and within. CCTV is the best way to keep you apprised of what’s happening when you aren’t there.

Dental practices in our area are also securing their buildings and offices with specialized credentials, advanced readers, alarm systems and reporting software. Facility access controls are the best way to prevent unauthorized access to your office.

Instead of giving your employees a key, access control systems use unique credentials to unlock the door. The credentials are encoded in a key card that an employee uses to unlock the door. When a person leaves your employment, their credentials are deactivated, so the key card no longer works.

With an access control system, you’ll also know who enters your office, and when they opened the door. You’ll receive reports if an unauthorized individual tries to enter. You can also prevent access to private rooms or areas inside your office that only certain employees should enter.

VoIP Business Phones

Do they have a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone solution in place? This can provide access even when phone lines are down from a storm. And by replacing your traditional phone lines with SIP (Session Initiation Protocol), you can save from 20% to 50% on your monthly phone bill. SIP is a signaling protocol that includes voice, video and messaging applications. It not only reduces your phone bill but adds performance features. You’ll definitely want to add this cost to your negotiations.

In Summary

Don’t be afraid to think big and expect concessions from your negotiating counterpart. The right technology investments at the right price can mean the difference between just making a living and building a large, successful practice.

Investing in the right dental practice as well as the right IT and equipment is critical to providing patients with the most accurate diagnoses and treatment options. It can also save time, improve the quality of care, and allow you to see more patients to increase your revenue and grow your new business.

The happier your patients, the more recommendations you’ll receive, and soon you may have your eye on another dental practice to purchase!

If you’re looking to purchase a dental practice in Northern Virginia or DC, contact NOVA Computer Solutions in Woodbridge, VA. We’ll perform an IT Assessment of the practice so you’ll know what potential upgrade costs you will face.

In the meantime, stay up-to-date on significant developments in dental IT. Visit the NOVA Blog! Here are a few articles to get you started:

The Clock Is Running Out! Don’t Wait! Upgrade Your IT Now!

Is Your Dental Office Paying Too Much For Data Backup for Dentists?

January 14, 2020, Marks The End of Support For Microsoft Server 2008