A Paperless Pursuit – Veterinary Technology

By Lara Fraser

26 July 2021 5 min read

 

It’s hard to imagine any aspect of daily life without technology embedded into our way of being. In both human and veterinary healthcare, a modern, digital clinic is expected – particularly in the pandemic era.

Telemedicine and virtual appointments have become critical for safety, and potentially part of the clinic furniture in post-COVID era. It’s here to stay. Even more so, it’s no longer a novelty – it is a requirement to do business legally, on top of running it successfully. You lose customers and won’t win new clients if you don’t offer virtual options. Regulatory and business compliance has become a top priority for veterinary clinics.

paperless management veterinary practice

Of course, the benefit of being compliance-driven results in improved offerings and customer experiences. As an example, accessibility and communication are key for clients and pet owners. With pet ownership increasingly led by Millennials or Gen Z, their tech-savvy nature and experience-valuing ways have dominated the conversation and influenced how products and services are offered across the board.

Veterinary technology enables them to schedule appointments easily without picking up the phone, interact with the vet clinic without leaving their home, have virtual health checks for their pet and digitally receive post-operative checks, follow-ups, discuss dermatological concerns, behavioural issues, prescriptions, access advice and more. Remote prescribing, for example, wasn’t a thing before COVID-19.

Eighteen months into the pandemic, Vet Times reports:
“In a YouGov poll, 70% of pollers believed that vet services could be conducted online, 61% said they would be happy to use such services and 58% would be more likely to do so over physical ones.”[1]
This trend will certainly continue for years to come.

Of course, telemedicine goes way beyond offering Zoom calls or ‘Teleconsult’ to be a successful clinic. It needs to fit in with the overall strategy of the vet clinic, feel integrated into the existing infrastructure and workflows of the practice, run smoothly and most importantly – help you take more care of your pets and patients.

A Zoom call isn’t much use if you can’t simultaneously pull up patient records, write consult notes, auto-send out follow up prescriptions for a smooth experience; and of course, receive payment in a timely manner. You’re passionate about helping animals, but your time is precious and telemedicine (or zoom calls rather) runs the risk of delayed payment or no payment at all. Even with the existing technology your practice may have, it’s worth evaluating how integrated it is in this sense.

We’re here to help! We’ll dive into 4 key benefits of going paperless. And HOW to do so. It doesn’t have to be daunting.

monitor updating identity icon1. Modernising patient care creates access
From electronic-record-keeping, storing data, searching client/medicine repositories, prescription management, stock management and two-way client communication, where a vet can diagnose, prescribe and adjust treatment for an animal without the need for them to visit the clinic; using digital technology can transform a clinic’s day-to-day management. It can also boost the client’s overall experience and satisfaction with the service if they’re communicating in ways that they expect (digital natives).

The average pet owner, as well as the average veterinary staff members are all technologically versed, so off-site use, easy access and on-the-move solutions are not just needed, they’re expected. For example, site-visits to farms or equine specialists may need mobile accessibility to review their day at a glance, quickly capture consult notes, and ensure everything is recorded, sold and closed out. This is difficult with a paper-based system.

gear and circuits icon2. Data management reduces operational efficiencies
Legibility, accuracy, accessibility, data storage and environmental impact are obvious reasons for going paperless. There is less room for error, duplication, data loss and doing so can significantly improve time management at a clinic. For vet staff, it means more time on operational care and less hassle on data entry, extraction or otherwise. The simplicity of having all your information at your fingertips reduces operational inefficiencies.

shaking hands with a check mark icon 3. Driving client compliance, reducing no-shows and encouraging regular visits
Mobile apps, appointment scheduling, text reminders and client communication are all part of the paperless experience. Whilst a vet focuses on taking care of animals, there’s hardly a sales team that will acquire new clients. It’s not like the receptionist or duty vet nurse has time to reach out or cold-call new customers for your clinic. Nor is there a marketing person taking care of client communications, advertising and offers for client retention. Veterinary technology can take you beyond being a traditional vet, instead of scrambling over mountains of paper and operating a manual, slow, administratively frustrating clinic.

phone with dollar sign notification icon4. Proper billing management maintains healthy accounting
Believe it or not, non-integrated payment systems can cause havoc including long waiting times in the clinic, transactional errors, imbalanced accounting, payment frustrations and more.

Veterinary technology adoption is easier than you think

For many veterinary practices, particularly small practices, being part of the paper-based system operates under the guise of being more cost-efficient and ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. Who wants to spend thousands of dollars on technology? How is it even funded? And does the team even have time for change management?

Eliminating risk, stress and cost is key, so it’s easy to see why practices stick to traditional ways, especially if it appears to be successful, has a healthy enough client base and is not disruptive to the way staff work.

Of course, the risk of not advancing, resting on one’s laurels counts for being risky itself. It is not just a sustainable desire to go paperless, it can manage all aspects of a veterinary clinic. Our blog post on the Top 10 trends for Veterinary Practices talks to the areas that digital technology can take care of, as well as what’s trending.

Affordability and “the HOW” are your biggest questions

As noted, compliance and COVID-19 is a huge driver in the veterinary industry. So you understand the why and the benefits, but the HOW is the kicker for you.

The hardest part is envisioning a smooth transition. Veterinary clinics get the fear that it will be out-of-this-world costly, difficult to train staff, hard to implement and challenging to institute new systems and change.

Fear not – as with everything, it starts out with taking the first step to climbing Mount Everest. Then the view once you get to the top, it is more than worth it!

As a technology provider, of course, we could push our very own practice management system, but we want the best for our clients and those in the industry, so it pays to be honest, unbiased and critical. You should review your needs thoroughly and disrupt yourself before something- or someone- comes along and disrupts your business for you.

Veterinary Practice News published a great article on Choosing the right PIMS for your practice.

Most solution providers also offer a comprehensive (and self-serving) adoption, engagement and learning programme as part of any package (if they don’t, avoid at all costs!). This can take the headache out of training your staff. In 2021, there is no need to worry that adoption will be lengthy and time-consuming. People are more agile, tech-savvy and flexible than you like to believe.

Still not sure?

Our e-Book on Change Management might help alleviate some of your concerns and gives guidance on how to transform with the times.

Funding is available to you

Whether a small start-up practice or an established corporation, in terms of funding and financial capability of going digital in the first place, know that most providers also offer very flexible and affordable options. Like any business would, aligning your needs and budget can all be part of the consultative conversation. Long-term, investing in the transitioning from paperless to digital can even boost productivity and profitability for your clinic.

[1] Source: Vet Times, Study: “80% consults could be done remotely”, 14 May 2021.

 

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Lucille Labuschagne

Lucille Labuschagne

New client, Server & Rapport enquiries | Australia, New Zealand & Asia