Just when I think I have seen it all, I find a Veterinary Practice still relaying on technology developed from the 1960’s. Recently we did an assessment for a practice and found they were still using tape backups to protect their business. This technology has a high failure rate of recovery and is difficult and time consuming to test until the day you need it, and in many cases it doesn’t work when you really need it, leaving your Veterinary Practice exposed to huge risk.
Weather it’s Tape backups or even USB Attached drives (these are now outdated and really don’t protect your business very well), we find many Veterinary Clinics and Hospitals are relying on old and outdated technology to run their business. Here are some examples of what we have seen.
Server – We often see a clinic or hospital that is using a desktop as a ‘Server’. So the system isn’t really the brains of the outfit. It is often just a workstation (Windows 7 or Windows 10 system) instead of Windows Server operating system. It is often hosted on hardware that is desktop based instead of server based hardware (there is a difference). It is often out of warranty and very difficult to proactively monitor from hardware and software failures. Even if they have a “true” server it is often not maintained and often not setup according to “Best Practices” which provides a bad foundation on which the practice management systems runs. This bad foundation is often what causes issues vs the practice management software itself. Read our other blog on “Finger Pointing” as we discuss more details on the foundation issues.
Just having a server at the practice is now considered legacy practice, because more and more businesses are migrating from expensive capital outlay cost of a server hardware in their office and just migrating to a cloud server instead. This is new to Veterinary industry but has been mainstream in other industry’s for some time now. It is not cutting edge bleeding edge technology by any means. So if you still own a server and it’s time to replace it, consider going to the cloud instead to reduce your cost of maintaining, monitoring, etc. It is safe and and more secure than having it at your office and in most cases implemented correctly with with the right cloud provider.
Backups – Just the term backup itself is outdated when it comes to protecting a business. Just because you have a backup doesn’t mean you have a recovery plan. Often those that need their backups find they are no good, or if they are good they take a very long time when it comes to recovery (3-5 days). Sustainability is what we recommend. Or in other words Business Continuity solution that is protecting your business throughout the day, but when it comes to recovery it takes less than 1 hour to recover vs 3-5 days to recovery your business.
Veterinary Practices are relying on their technology to check patients in. They use their practice management system for paperless charting. They use their practice management system to know their schedule, provide a treatment plan and to even bill the client prior to leaving the office. They print prescriptions, take home sheets and even use technology to monitor their patients when doing dentistry or surgery. Having a quick way of recovery when system failures occur is critical to clinics and hospitals that relay on technology to run their business.
What we often see a practice will subscribe to a “Cloud” based backup from the practice management software. We find in many cases it is only backing up the Practice Management Database only It is not protecting any other important data on the server like HR files, Payroll or Financial data. They often don’t realize pulling the data back down from the cloud to a new “server” will take extreme amounts of time to accomplish this task, thus resulting in the 3-5 days of downtime required to restore and get your clinic or hospital technology back in full operation.
We also often see a practice using USB drives to backup their server. They often have a stack of these drives on top of the server they are supposed to rotate and take offsite (Labels with Mon, Tues, Wed, etc). When asked how often they take offsite, they usually say “We did it for about a month or so, but stopped doing it”. Having USB Based backups is not going to protect your business if it gets infected with “Ransomware”. Because this attack will also go after locally attached USB Drives and render your local backups useless leaving you the only option to pay the Ransom and “hope” you get your data back. Hope is not a strategy we recommend so having a backup that is not locally attached and protected from Ransomware is a MUST for any practice!
Workstations – We still see Windows XP operating systems inside clinics and hospitals. Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft and is a huge security risk. Having this outdated and non-supported platform running your X-Ray’s, Exam Rooms, Front Desk/Reception or even Treatment areas is just going to cause you major issues in the long run. Windows 7 (released after Windows XP) is set to retire in January 2020 but we are advising our clients to have a strategy to replace Windows 7 by December of 2019. So replacement of 1-3 machines per month vs waiting until expiration and replacing all machines at once is something we highly recommend. This helps with large capital outlay costs and helps assure clinic stability and reliability during migration to a new Windows operating system.
Workstation hardware that is business class vs consumer class and old or outdated. We often see workstations that are 5-8 years old when the average life span of a workstation is 3-5 years. Having old outdated technology is going to slow your staff down. Just rebooting an old outdated machine often requires going to make a cup of coffee and coming back to the machine to find it is just finishing a simple reboot. With clinics and hospitals relying on technology it is important to have fast reliable systems vs old outdated and technology that causes your staff issues and slows their performance around treatment and billing.
We see systems purchased at local stores like Best Buy and Office Depot that are really consumer based machines which are designed to run 3-4 hours a day vs 12-24 hours a day. These consumer based machines are built with all kinds of components that change frequently and become very time consuming to troubleshoot when issues arise. They often seem cheaper and we have another blog of “Why Cheaper isn’t Better” you should read to find out the true cost of Business class vs. Consumer class.
These are just a few of the things we see when doing IT assessments for clinics and hospitals. If you are “behind the times” it may be time to re-evaluate how you are doing things because clinics and hospitals are becoming more and more dependent on technology. If you are dependent you must be strategic about your thinking and IT spend. IT isn’t just a cost center anymore, but rather a revenue driver. With the wrong IT Strategy in place it can and will cost your clinic and hospital big time. But with the right investments in technology you can truly provide a Return on Investment (ROI) of happy staff, happy clients, more profitability, etc.
Should you wish to have us perform an assessment for your clinic or hospital, please contact me – Joseph Axne @ 303-520-3733 x9010. Or use the Contact tab at the top of this page and will be happy to assist. We can give you insight into your current technology and possible IT Strategy you should have in place to assure your practice is protected, reliable, secure and performs well.