Small and medium-sized veterinary practices have increasingly integrated IT solutions into their business models to be competitive, run efficiently, bring down their operating costs and boost their growth. In the current digital age, veterinary practices have come to the realization that technology plays a critical role in day-to-day operations, leading to a surge in demand for IT infrastructure.
However, for small and medium-sized practices, building IT infrastructure can be a daunting task. The first challenge they encounter is the cost of building up IT infrastructure. Next, they need to have the expertise to set up their networks, endpoints, software tools and storage systems. They also need expert advice regularly to update their IT capabilities to be competitive.
Setting up IT infrastructure for veterinary practices
Before setting up your IT infrastructure as a small or medium-sized veterinary practice, you need to consider a number of aspects based on the IT model you want to implement and your specific needs. Here are some tips on setting up an efficient IT and cost-effective IT infrastructure.
Plan on how to implement your IT infrastructure
Proper prior planning of your IT infrastructure can make a difference in how well-organized and scalable your infrastructure will be. Planning also helps practice owners calculate the risks and costs involved in implementing solutions before acquiring the infrastructure.
Hardware forms the foundation of your IT infrastructure; hence it is important to ensure that you have the correct components.
Hardware used in IT infrastructure encompasses not just computers and peripheral devices but also servers, server equipment and all devices used in your networking infrastructure. Here are some of the hardware that you will need to run your small or medium-sized practice effectively.
Computers and periphery devices: This includes devices such as laptops, desktops and monitors that your staff will be using.
Physical storage and backup storage: This will include devices such as hard drives and flash drives. This is where all your practice data is stored. It is also on these devices that you can backup your data, which is important in case of emergencies such as being hacked. The size of hard drives required depends on the amount of data that is handled by a practice.
Servers: As a practice, you may decide to hold your own data indoors. To do this, you will need to acquire physical servers for your practice. Servers are also be used for backup, which assures practice owners that, if anything goes wrong, backed up data can be used to reduce latency and downtime.
As a practice, you need software to run your hardware. The good news for practice owners is that software have become easily available, and they can decide on whether they will be hosted on-site or on the cloud in the form of SaaS( Software as a service).
A practice owner only needs to know what they need out of software and acquire only that piece of software for their practice. Some of the most common software that you will need are:
Operating systems: These are software that runs your hardware. Examples of operating systems include Windows, Linux and Mac OS.
Veterinary practice operations: These are software used for day to day running of a veterinary practice. Examples include Customer Relationship Management systems (CRMs) and Practice Management Systems (PMS). Some of the more popular PMS include, Idexx Cornerstone, Avimark, Impromed Infinity, EzyVet, Vetter and many more.
Office software: These are software needed by staff but do not necessarily contribute to a practice operation. An example is Microsoft Office software used for document editing and printing.
Setting up a network system in your practice will depend on its size. A network allows you to share files between computers, print documents and interact with other peripheral devices such as scanners and printers. As a practice owner, you can choose between three types of networking depending on how complex you want your network infrastructure.
Single wired: This type of networking uses a single wire to connect computer systems or a computer system and peripherals such as printers and scanners. This type of network is the least expensive to set up and very efficient for small veterinary practices.
Wireless: These networks utilize Wi-Fi signals; therefore, no cables are required to make connections. They are generally slow and are prone to interruptions and compromises by external malicious actors such as cybercriminals.
Wired: This type of networking is more complex and the fastest among all networking types. It involves a more complex system that consists of servers and data storage.
Data centers and cloud storage
The choice of where to store your data largely depends on the budget and the type of infrastructure a practice owner is looking forward to setting up. They have a number of options, such as an on-site data center, which is very costly, or cloud storage.
Choosing an on-site data center assures practice owners that they will have more control over their networks.
Depending on your practice location size, you may also decide to have a LAN ( local area network) for small practices or a WAN (wide area network) for medium and large veterinary practices.
Having security systems such as Biometric scanners for gate passes, CCTV cameras and security protocols on your practice is also part of the IT infrastructure. Access controls also play a significant part in ensuring your data is protected.
Staff IT security awareness training and establishing security systems and protocols beforehand ensures that all employees know what is expected of them, making it easy to secure your IT infrastructure.
Landlines and VOIP
Having landlines and VOIP for internal communications can also come in handy. However, this should not be a priority for any practice owner setting up their IT infrastructure.
Small and medium-sized practices should also have the expertise of laying cables, managing them and figuring out the types of cables they need in their networking. As a practice owner, you should know the type of cabling your practice requires and how to wire them ahead of time.
Do you need help navigating how to build out the technology in your new or expanding practice?
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