There are many perceived benefits to purchasing refurbished computers, especially when running a Dental Practice with so many other expenses to consider and balance. From the obvious discounts, reduction of E-waste, the ability to replace in "chunks" (as deals pop up throughout the year), and of course the frequency of computer replacement refurbs seem like a no brainer.
While saving money where you can when running a Dental Practice or opening a startup is important, the long-term impact of going the route of refurbished computers may cost more money in the long run. As a Managed Services Provider with over ten years' experience in the Dental-Specific space we have a decade of real-world examples from over 850 clients to pull from. Our clients can purchase new equipment from us but more importantly we want them purchasing equipment (no matter the source) that will help them run efficient, effective practices and spend savings on their own growth. In this article we will discuss the real cost of utilizing refurbished computers over purchasing new.
New computers have warranties ranging from 2 years upward in most cases (with Darkhorse Tech sourced PCs this is 3 years of Dell Pro Support). While it is possible that something goes wrong with a new PC out of the box most issues pop up somewhere in the first few years. A warranty protects your practice from spending multiple times on the same computer. By the time warranties run out you are typically looking to replace computers anyway (between the requirements of HIPAA, 3rd party software & wear and tear from daily use average computer lifespan is around 4-5 years).
Refurbished computers on the other hand (from reputable sources - direct from manufacturer) typically come with 90-day warranties. A 90-day warranty is good in that it gives you piece of mind that you aren't purchasing a total Lemon, but 90 days only gives you ¬º of a year of protection. The money you save by purchasing a refurbished computer is out the window after a few months and if you choose to replace the computer with another refurb you may be in line for yet another unexpected expense; not to mention lost revenue due to downtime, cost of diagnosis, shipping, etc. By the time you replace a refurbished PC you may have spent more than it would have cost to purchase new to begin with, new with three years of guaranteed functionality.
As you know Dental Technology is changing rapidly. From advances in cloud computing to improved sensors, intra oral cameras, and CBCTs the requirements on a Dental Office PC are growing along with the technology itself. The more you ask a computer to do, and the more 3rd party software and hardware can do, it is only becoming more important to have the newest computer technology so that you get the quality your integrations advertise and the longevity your finances require.
One of the most common frustrations we hear from new clients is that they cannot use the newest Dental Tech because the requirements are too much for their legacy computers to handle. Most cutting-edge tech is not looking back in time to make sure their hardware and software is compatible with previous generations of computer tech.
When purchasing refurbished computers many of the components are going to be from the original build, some may have been upgraded but ultimately you are working with older tech that isn't built to handle the latest advances. When we source computers for our clients, we make sure to inventory the hardware and software they are using and plan to use so we can source computers with the necessary specs to help them in the immediate while doing some future proofing depending on their plans.
Simple and to the point - (especially if you are sourcing refurbished computers from places like Amazon) it is difficult to determine the "True Age" of a refurbished computer. Refurbished computers often have piecemealed parts some which have a shorter lifespan than the rest of the components. You may have a "like new" computer with an aging processor or drive, those components will not play well with new tech and as such, will often need to be replaced to be of use. When it comes time to replace parts you are looking at downtime, sourcing issues (supply chain, remember?) and the higher cost of individual components.
To ensure patient and practice data security HIPAA requires that computer systems are not vulnerable. Potentially the most common issue with computers purchased through deal websites or sourced refurbished is sourcing products with HIPAA compliant operating systems. Once the manufacturer of an operating system stops support (As we saw with Windows 7 most recently) the computer is no longer compliant and sets you and your practice up for malicious activity, data breach, fines, and downtime.
Third party software companies try to pair their offerings with the latest tech such that they operate with speed and as few hiccups as possible. They rely on faster processors, heftier drives, and the latest graphics cards to provide the user with the most appealing product possible. This means that newer computers tend to work better with the latest software and vice versa. With multiple software running at once a computer is tasked with dividing resources to run these products simultaneously. If imaging, practice management, client engagement, paperless systems, and more are in use then speed is at a premium. If you pair your sleek software with a clunker of a computer (refurbished computers), you are likely losing functionality with all of your software. Running new software with an old system is like putting a Yugo engine in a Tesla, it might look like you know what you are doing but it's all fa√ßade without functionality.
Last but not least would be the answer I got from one of our techs while I was brainstorming with them. When asked, "can you think of any other considerations when it comes to refurbished computers in a Dental Practice?" there was a pregnant pause followed by "David hates when you buy refurbs and he cries himself to sleep every time he sees one, don't make David cry. He's nice." ‚Äì aside from speaking in the third person I couldn't agree more.
Whether you're just starting out or a well-established organization, Darkhorse Tech has the experience and technology to help get you moving, cut costs, and streamline your operations via unlimited IT support. We are here to help you do what you do best: focus on providing top-notch care and service for patients - not dealing with IT problems, lag time spent talking with technical support, or complicated technological mishaps. Unlimited IT support services help the whole team work efficiently without worrying about significant system issues or constant interruptions.
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