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Should You Upgrade the Equipment in Your Practice?

In a culture obsessed with the latest and greatest, it’s easy to get cynical about the value of tech upgrades. Do people really need a new phone every year, or the latest video game console? In the healthcare industry, this cynicism is exacerbated by high costs, often prohibiting all but the largest institutions from offering brand new equipment. But there’s danger in falling into the trap of settling for what you have. Here are five reasons why you should consider upgrading the equipment in your practice:

Offer More Treatments In-House

Using new and improved equipment gives you the opportunity to provide additional value to your patients and practice members who you would otherwise need to refer to other practices for specialized treatments. Whether it’s equipment that you already own with improvements or a brand new technology, you’ll be able to do more within your practice and retain the increased revenue. Not to mention, owning specialized equipment or equipment with greater capabilities can bring in referrals from other practices if you play your cards right.

Attract New Patients

For evidence of how much people rely on having the latest and greatest in technology, many in the US don’t have to look further than their pockets. Out of over 220 million smartphone users in the United States, 44% use an iPhone, which releases an updated and highly coveted model every single year. Upgrading to the latest model is such a common practice that Apple offers an annual upgrade program that works with any of their carriers, even when actual hardware and operating system updates are (according to some) marginal, at best.

So when it comes to caring for their health, does the average person want to place their trust in aging equipment? Even if it works just fine, perception may be working against your practice. By upgrading your equipment, you’re speaking the same language as your prospective patients and sending the message that you care about them.

Greater Efficiency

One of the reasons that new iterations and models of healthcare technology are always being released is because it is always being improved. Though, like the iPhone, these improvements can sometimes be incremental, over time, the same piece of equipment can undergo drastic changes that increase its utility and efficiency.

How much time are you and your staff spending on getting patients positioned, or recalibrating technology? Medical device manufacturers do extensive research on how their equipment is used, and are always seeking to make the experience better for practitioners. Therefore, later iterations of a device often have ease of use improvements, and that can make a real impact on your practice. Increased efficiency in using a piece of equipment means shorter visit times and more frequent use, which contributes to greater net revenue.

Reduced Maintenance Costs

From classic cars to kitchen appliances, older technology is just more expensive to maintain. Whether parts aren’t being produced or technicians lack the know-how to work on outdated models or things just break down too frequently, it’s possible that you’re spending more on upkeep than it would take to update your equipment.

Health care practices are often hesitant to make the leap to improved equipment due to the fast-changing nature of healthcare technology and the industry in general. But when you delay upgrading outdated equipment, it only gets older and more costly. When deciding whether or not to update, consider using a total cost of ownership (TCO) model. First, determine the lifetime TCO of your existing equipment, and include maintenance and upkeep costs—both in dollars and time spent. Then compare that to the costs you’ll incur with an upgrade. This gives you a tangible number that you can use in your decision.

Better Patient Outcomes

And lastly, every investment you make into improving your practice comes down to better patient outcomes. Treating patients with the right tools in a timely manner can be the difference between sickness and health, ability and disability, and even life and death. When it comes down to it, equipment that’s “good enough” might actually not be—and when patients are entrusting you with their health, that’s a tragic outcome to face.

Upgrading the healthcare equipment in your practice is a big decision, often with lots of capital on the line, but there’s a good chance that it’s worth it. Take a look at your practice with a critical eye and see where procedures and expenditures could be improved, then examine whether or not an upgrade can help. With mindful investments into new and updated technology, your practice will be much better outfitted to thrive in today’s healthcare environment.

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