Computers and IT for a solo medical office

Here’s Ho Sun’s post from 2011 about the cost of computers and a server, with a 2018 update. Just posting it to give you an idea of how to budget your computer systems.

Server: $6,000

I need a physical server as per my EMR requirements. My I.T. guy built one based on the EMR’s requirements.  Includes fax server.  It weighs 60+ lbs!  I think I could’ve gotten one for $1,000 to $2,000 less if I knew any better.

Computers: $700 x 2

Ordered from Dell with recommended specifications from EyeMD.  One goes to the front desk, and the other in the exam room.  If I can afford it, I’ll get another one for my office.  If not, I’ll do all my billing and claims in reception when my front desk person is gone.

Scanner: $1,300

Got a Fujitsu from Amazon, based on EyeMD recommendations once again.  More expensive than I had imagined, but got the cheapest deal for a non-refurbished eBay store.

Printer: $450

Got an all-in-one printer/fax/copier/scanner.  Made sure to get one with 2 print trays for regular paper and prescription paper.

Howie’s addendum: even if you decide to go without a EHR, you’ll still need computers to do your scheduling and billing and run your practice management software. In 2018 more and more folks are using cloud rather than server which won’t require a server. But if you go this route you’ll need computers or a iPad.

My EHR company gave me a sheet with recommendations of the specifications of the computers and server to use, and they looked at my IT company’s suggestions both to make sure everything was compatible as well as to make sure my IT company wasn’t ripping me off.

A good way to find a local IT company is to ask other docs in your area (if you’re comprehensive ophtho, ask a retina or oculoplastics specialist in your area). I’d recommend using a company rather than an individual who is doing it as a part time gig, because if your computers go down in the middle of the day you’ll want someone on it.

My server and tower were about $5000 and each computer and monitor cost me $900. In retrospect, I should’ve just got three computers, and added on the fourth when I got busier a few years later (newer model to replace the one in my office and throw the slower one in the exam room) but I guess it doesn’t matter.

I also purchased a APC power backup for each computer for about $60 to provide backup power should the electricity go out. The Sonic firewall they recommended was $1000, and I just updated it this year after five years’ use.

I use the Lexmark 317 as my combination printer/ scanner but it isn’t the greatest. It only cost me $150, but when it breaks I’ll get something more expensive. I had Lexmark 310s which seemed to break and need replacement yearly, but they’re inexpensive.

You will want to back up your data every night. I do this with hard drives which I swap out every morning. I take a belt and suspenders approach and also use a cloud backup. Many folks on our google group use Mozy as their cloud backup, but I decided to splurge and pay my IT company to do it. Along with the antivirus software it costs me about $80 per month.

Of course I also had to pay for labor for installation. I think it cost me about $15,000 all in. Even today I have to pay for them to do work such as updates and monitoring, but my bill for IT services last year including the monthly $80 cloud backup and antivirus ($960 annually) was about $4000.

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