Upgrading Your Digital Radiography System: How Do You Know When It’s Time? (Checklist)

In recent weeks, I have focused my posts on the process of upgrading your practice from film to digital radiography and the many benefits it provides. However, it is also important to discuss when you should upgrade your existing digital imaging technology and /or related computers.

When your equipment is up to date, you optimize workflow, network efficiency and improve technology integration options. You also ensure the fidelity of your digital radiographs is the best they can be for proper diagnoses. I have put together the following chart from my experience as well as the counsel of others, in hopes that you find this information helpful as you evaluate whether your practice may benefit from a new digital radiography system or related computer system.

Equipment should be updated when… Details Questions to ask before purchase
Image quality is degraded Over time, the quality of Phosphor plate and direct digital radiographic images can begin to degrade—meaning your diagnoses might not be as accurate. To determine if your image quality is still up to diagnostic standards—or if it is time to upgrade—an objective image evaluation tool, such as the Dental Digital Quality Assurance (DDQA) Phantom, can be used. What is the image resolution of this product?How can I test the image quality over time to ensure it hasn’t diminished? 
Equipment is old/there are visible signs of use Over time, digital radiography sensor cables may become visibly worn and the sensor itself can perform intermittently or show signs of physical wear and tear.When phosphor plates are used too many times they can deteriorate with repeated handling or develop surface scratches that impact image quality.Even though your older equipment may still be functioning, it may not perform as designed or meet the most recent infection control standards

 

How many times can I use this product before it has to be replaced?How durable is this system?Can the detector still be adequately disinfected to prevent cross contamination if the barrier sheath fails?

 

Your maintenance/repair costs are running hight After a certain point, it makes more sense to replace a dated/problematic piece of technology if you are continually spending money to repair it.Broken or nonfunctioning equipment can cause delays–keeping you from providing patient care in a timely manner  How will my repair costs stack up to the cost of a new system?Are there any warranty/maintenance plans I can participate in to keep costs low if I have problems with this digital radiography product?Is there any upgrade or exchange programs to replace worn digital sensors?

 

Your computer is outdated Most all digital imaging products have minimum hardware and software requirements. If you are using an older computer, your operating system might not be compatible with the most recent radiography equipment drivers. If this is the case, it may be time to upgrade your computer.Delays in insurance claims processing because of poor communication between incompatible programs or processing tools.  What operating system does this computer come with? (Be sure to review your digital radiography software and platform requirements before shopping for a new computer.)
Images no longer “pop” on the monitor Video technology continues to improve, which may mean it’s time for a new video card or even a new display monitor.Unclear images can hinder patient communication.  Can I install a new graphics/display card, or do I need a new monitor?What contrast ratio options are available on this monitor display? 

I hope you found this information helpful if you think it might be time to upgrade your existing equipment. I’d love to hear about the checklist you have for yourself when determining whether it is time to upgrade the equipment in your practice.

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