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The Doctor’s Office Computer: Tips for good PC health

By Brad Harding

art2Physicians are experts at diagnosing the common flu and prescribing proper medications. However, ensuring the efficiency of their office technology may be out of the realm of their expertise. Fortunately, there are simple steps doctors can take to help their devices run as smoothly as possible and extend their functionality. These tech tips can help physicians save money while diagnosing and offering relief from chronic, nagging computer performance issues.

Practice Good Computer Hygiene

Similar to encouraging preventive care for patients’ physical health, it is necessary to practice good computer hygiene to keep computers physically healthy. Doctors should start by considering a computer’s location in the office. Physicians should keep their computers in a cool room with a few inches of open space along the back and sides of the devices to encourage proper ventilation and to prevent overheating. Inside the system, lingering dust and grime can also generate heat because they block the computer’s fans. It is a good idea to clean out systems with compressed air about two or three times a year to keep things running like new.

Upgrade Computer Memory

Computer memory upgrades–which vary in cost depending on the make and model of the computer–start at around $50 apiece and can make a vast difference in a computer’s speed and the length of its life overall. Memory (or DRAM) is the component within a computer that provides short-term data access to run multiple applications at once. The more memory a computer has, the more applications someone can run at once, ultimately improving efficiency. While 2GB of memory may have been enough two years ago, it will not keep up with most systems’ needs today. Upgrading computer memory is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to increase a system’s overall performance and lengthen its active lifespan.

Upgrade Computer Storage

Many people think storage and memory are the same thing, but storage allows for long-term data access and comes in the form of a hard drive or a solid state drive (SSD). This internal flash drive retains data even when there is no external power present. Though storage does not need to be as quick as memory, there needs to be much more of it to keep all of the office’s patient records, files and documents in one place. The amount of storage a computer has determines how quickly it can pull up files and applications. Adding more storage will help a computer run faster.

Only Power Off at Night

It can be tempting to turn off a computer several times a day in the interest of saving energy and money, but doing so can cause more harm than good. While it is a good idea to shut a computer down once per day (at night for instance), any more than that can cause serious stress on a computer’s internal thermometer. When a computer is powered on and off repeatedly, the computer’s internal hardware changes temperatures rapidly, ultimately shortening the life of the device. To regulate the temperature of electronics, physicians and their teams should place them in sleep mode when they are not in use and only power off when they are done using the devices for the day.

Together these tips can help lengthen the life of any computer. Conducting routine check-ups on computers’ hardware and software will help them last longer. Considering the cost of a new computer, these inexpensive fixes will help physicians get the most out of their devices. By following these tips, doctors will free up a bit of the business budget that can be reallocated to achieving what matters most–providing quality care for patients.

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Brad Harding, a tech guru at Crucial.com, has been dabbling in computers and technology for upwards of 10 years.

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