Building your computer network is a major investment that can allow you to reap great returns over time. However, it is essential to build that network with the right components.
Quite simply, you should avoid falling into the trap of believing that every network is alike. If you want your computer network to meet your needs on a consistent basis, it is essential to put in adequate time and effort toward planning.
The need for careful planning
A network is not merely a collection of computers that have been wired together. Building a computer network is akin to planning for a new home or a remodel.
Great care should be taken in order to account for a few important things, including available space, electrical configuration, storage, and future expansion.
Broadly speaking, a computer network has an effective lifespan of three years. But with careful planning, you can take this into consideration and make the necessary preparation for future upgrades while minimizing future investments.
Laying down the foundation
Before investing in the different components of your computer network, it is highly recommended that you identify your needs and foresee possible technologies that you might need to integrate with your existing network.
Ideally, dental practices should subdivide their network into two halves: the clinical and administrative components. These two components will then be brought together and connected via a dedicated server.
An effective computer network for a dental practice will consist of the server, network equipment, and workstations for administrative and clinical functions.
Essentially, this means taking a two-phased approach, starting with the administrative network and then moving on to the operational aspect of the network.
Investing in key pieces
It cannot be overstated that the selection of which components to invest in should be dependent on your practice’s immediate needs.
For each practice, that will mean different things. If you are planning on building a high-tech practice, you will need to choose components that match your software needs, including those used for practice management, imaging, and digital X-rays. The initial outlay may be considerably higher, but over the long term, investing in the best components you can afford will provide you with greater returns.
For administrative workstations, the basic rule of thumb to follow is to get the best that you can afford. At the very least, these workstations should capably handle the demands of a practice management workstation.
An operatory workstation, on the other hand, should meet a few important criteria. These include available space, compatibility with the software you use or are planning to use, and suitability to the tasks you regularly perform.