• In a world of shouting, the clearest sound is sometimes a whisper

Evaluating new technology

Good afternoon – I’d like to buy a computer:

How should dental practices weigh up cost and performance when investing in new technology? Always a tricky question, but here’s how I would do it.

Why do you need to invest in technology?

Because something takes too much time or resources, costs money or doesn’t make enough money. Alternatively, a 3rd-party (the NHS) mandates a technology.

Work out the problem you need to solve, then you can work out the return needed on your investment.

What are you going to buy?

Examine constraints, such as;

  • Will the new technology work with your existing equipment, systems and processes?
  • Will it cause compatibility problems that will require further investment?
  • What external systems does it need to work, and what standards should it meet?
  • What is actually available and where can you find information about possible solutions?

Where are you going to put it?

  • Do you have space and services (power, water, cooling) the technology needs?
  • If it is a portable device, can it be stored safely and securely?
  • Where are the suppliers and installers based, and can they provide a good standard of support from that location?

When will you install this new technology?

  • Does that date allow for any special training you or your team need?
  • Will your facilities be ready by then?
  • Can the supplier guarantee delivery and completion dates (so you can manage your appointment book)
  • When will you need to pay for this new technology?
  • Length of warranty and support contract?

How are you going to choose?

  • Draw up a list of questions and organise them into ones for you to answer, ones for the supplier, and ones that require collaboration.
  • Ask colleagues and friends if they can make recommendations of suppliers who can solve the business problem you identified.
  • Research the names recommended to you, but also find alternatives.
  • Remember – the biggest supplier doesn’t always have the best product, service or deal for you.
  • Select about six suppliers – call them and discuss all your questions with them.
  • Invite three of them to submit a quote.
  • Go back to the top of the page and check that the solution solves your initial problem.

Congraulaions. You are now able to choose.

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