Medical practices house a lot of hardware. From the computer at the front desk, the scanner used for insurance cards, the laptops the doctor takes into patient visits, to MRI machines, all these machines work to keep a practice running and to facilitate patient care. Like most technology, they are also expensive, and if they fail they generally take down several vital functions with them.
To keep hardware working as intended without service interruptions, it is important to address hardware updates, refreshes, and end of life. The first part of that is warranty. While most modern technology can last for a full five-year extended warranty, it is important to schedule their replacements once the warranty expires. After the cost of downtime, labor, and repairs, it’s rarely worth it to fix an old machine instead of buying a new one. Other single-purpose machines may be kept around as long as they function, but your budget should always be prepared to absorb the cost of a replacement when they fail.
For servers and computers, including desktops, laptops, and tablets, the deciding factor is the length of active support. As long as the operating system is getting security updates and patches, it can be kept secure, and therefore compliant with HIPAA and HITECH regulations. Once extended support ends for a certain operating system, however, that machine can no longer safely connect to the network.
The last thing to consider is suitability. An old Windows XP may function just fine as a word processor, but it will likely lack the power, memory, and speed necessary to run a modern program such as your EMR or practice management software. Old PCs generally get slower and slower as they try to run more demanding software, so replacing these machines becomes as much an issue of quality of life as security.