Choosing a hardware vendor is one of the most important decisions a dentist will make in the development of a high tech office. A bad choice could mean constant problems, lost productivity, wasted time, extra expenses and general frustration. A good choice could mean a seamless, trouble free, invisible integration of technology into the office.
The first rule is chose a professional. Do not get your hardware from some patient’s neighbor’s nephew who makes computers from spare parts in the garage on weekends. You make get a great deal, but when the system crashes at 10:00 am Monday and you need immediate help and the kid is working the line at Burger King you are in big trouble.
Usually the best choice for a dental office is a local VAR, which stands for Value Added Reseller. In other words, a local computer vendor. It is possible to get computers from an out of town company or an online vendor like Dell or Gateway, however you will still need a local person to install and service the system.
You should choose a VAR with the same care you would any professional advisor such as an accountant or an attorney. That means ask for a referral from a trusted source. Check out their credentials. Ask for references and follow up. There are three critical questions to ask the references. Did the VAR do what they said they would do when they said they would do it? Does everything work as planned with a minimum of problems? And most importantly, if you had a critical failure were they there that day to fix the problem?
Many VARs specialize in specific industries such as dentistry, and it is a good idea to choose a VAR that has dental experience. If they are experienced they will understand the needs of your business, they will know the basics of dental software and they will know of unique solutions to the problems of using computers in a dental treatment room. Also they will have seen various technology systems in place in other offices, they will have seen what works and what doesn’t and be able to bring that knowledge to your office.