Veterinarians these days face a host of challenges when building a veterinary hospital. One of the most crucial: how to choose and install the right equipment and technology. According to Heather Lewis, AIA, principal architect with Animal Arts in Boulder, Colo., the increasing complexity and cost of technology, combined with the increasing rate of obsolescence for new equipment, makes purchasing and integrating equipment into your practice more difficult than ever. Follow Lewis’s six tips to make the process easier.
1. Study the trends
Ask yourself where the veterinary industry is going and what technologies you need to keep up. Green trends—like water reduction strategies and energy conservation measures—continue to grow, so consider including them in the early planning stages of your project.
2. Make smart choices
This seems obvious, but it’s an important concept. Your equipment decisions will affect your floor plan, so do plenty of research on the equipment that’s most important and relevant to you and identify your priorities early.
3. Plan for expansion
Veterinary practices evolve and expand as the industry and technology change. Your floor plan should anticipate the direction of future growth and allow room for expansion. Oversize your building’s electrical and data capacity, and plan your plumbing system so that lines may be extended.
4. Don’t overcomplicate
Learn to prioritize. Start by making decisions about the larger pieces of medical equipment and work your way down. Use equipment that’s intended for veterinary use and take advice from practice owners who’ve been in your shoes—your colleagues might have invaluable tips to offer.
5. Assemble a team
Along with your architect and contractor, you’ll work with product manufacturers, distributors, and vendors—communicate your needs and expectations clearly with these people. Use a spreadsheet to keep track of where you’ll get each piece of equipment, who will install it, and who will provide any additional assistance, like connecting the equipment to your network.
6. Follow through
Visit your construction site early and often to make sure things are going smoothly. Then visit some more. Then follow up with some additional visits. Frankly, you can’t visit the site too often. Pay attention to things like plumbing and electrical outlet locations, and be available to advise when major medical equipment and technology systems are being installed.