How to get the best veterinary practice management software for your clinic

Understanding the best requirements for your teams

By Kim Lam

17 May 2023 6 min read


Figuring out the right veterinary management software can be challenging. It takes time to consider factors such as saving time, focusing on patient communication, and getting proper customer support.

Considering it’s the “brain” or heart of your practice operations, it’s a big decision and one that you want to consider thoroughly. As a reminder of the benefits a good practice management system software can bring, ten things include:

  1. Improved efficiency in managing patient/medical records and appointments
  2. Streamlined billing and payment processing
  3. Increased accuracy in inventory management and ordering
  4. Enhanced communication with clients through reminders and messaging features
  5. Access to detailed business analytics and reporting
  6. Improved staff communication and task delegation
  7. Automated reminders for preventative care and follow-up appointments
  8. Integration with diagnostic equipment and lab results
  9. Increased compliance with legal and regulatory requirements
  10. Improved overall patient care and satisfaction.

Think about the softer benefits and business objectives

When selecting veterinary software for your clinic, consider more than just basic features. Think about how the software can add value to your clinic and how it can be tailored to your specific needs.

This is about your goals and ambitions. What benefits do you desire and what aligns with your business vision, mission, and values?

The impact of the decision will depend on your situation. Are you a newcomer just starting out? Or are you an existing clinic considering changing your practice management software? In the Cost of Living (CoL) crisis, it may be that you’re looking for ways to build commensurate revenue. And hence your focus may be on finding or using your PMS to include pet health plans or bundles. While also having efficient client/patient communication. 

Or it may be that you’re looking to save time in any area and at any opportunity as your staff are overworked and you want to give a better work/life balance to your team. It could be about how you better manage your stock and save costs because you want to be more sustainable and have higher profit margins. 

If you’re a new practice or start-up, your focus may be on client acquisition and solid client communication or veterinary marketing. Generally, a high-quality PMS will help you meet multiple goals, but having focus helps with your decision-making.

Gemma Barmby, a business consultant at Vet Dynamic and vet herself, provides very useful advice in this context in our Paws, Rewind and Play podcast, how planning is useful to help you better manage your business and how to reframe your thoughts around the word “profit”.

There’s also a need to ensure the usability of the PMS and its interface. Considering the workflows and how easy it is to operate is important. The last thing you want is a subpar user experience. 

In our 30+ years’ in the veterinary software solutions space, we understand the key challenges practice staff have when it comes to using technology. And even for providers out there in the market, there are free, low-quality platforms, so it’s something you have to be mindful of. Free or low-cost platforms have a tendency to lack the operational efficiency that is required or only have very basic functionality. These don’t suit the busy nature of a veterinary practice.

Look beyond the surface and at customer support levels

Some PMS providers provide gorgeous looking interfaces. But it’s important you look beyond the surface and ensure that features and functions are properly synced up to the right workflows as well as being easy to use. From marketplace feedback, some systems are clunky, difficult to use and lack proper levels of customer support.

At Covetrus, we offer 24×7 customer service and support as well as “hyper-care” which adds a lot of value within a practice to ensure staff can adapt to any technology changes quickly and in an efficient manner. 

A modern veterinary practice

We also value and rank high on usability – meaning it’s easy to use, simple to learn and contains a veterinary-first design. This then supports the logical steps you would take in a check-in or consultation for example.

The best practice management system should carefully consider each step taken in your daily workflow and optimise that process, so for example, in our cloud-based PMS, we make the check-in and check-out process incredibly simple for receptionists using a smooth “drag n drop” experience in “My Day”. See our Quick Tour below:

It’s about making sure you choose a PMS provider with levels of support that will help you in the end-to-end process and having a partnership model. Purchasing veterinary software is a significant investment. It is best to ensure you are supported in the before, during and after phases of data migration, implementation and post-implementation support etc.

This is where a high-quality PMS and being thorough about your selection of your provider will pay off.

The “interoperability factor” and compatibility with other systems

Imagine a situation where you take an x-ray of your patient but have to exit the room. Then access the file on another machine. And then take a print-out and look at it separately to the patient’s file on your PMS then have to sync up the details later and forget to charge for the x-ray.

Or it just takes one too many clicks to do something as simple as carry out your consultations within the dedicated 15-min time slot. Losing time and efficiencies is something many customers get frustrated with on their current PMS due to the friction in their workflows.

That’s where you need to consider key integrations and ensure the PMS you use has an open API platform. So for the example above, you would want your x-ray and diagnostics to be synced up to your PMS so that it’s less hassle. In the Digital Developments and Transformative Technology article by Vet Times, they confirm the need for flexibility in this area:

“Broadly speaking, PMS companies have taken a few different approaches in our sector. Some fully embrace the idea of the PMS as a platform and have wonderful open APIs. They may charge for these, and they may vary in quality, but the philosophy is what is important here. Companies like Covetrus, MWI and Provet have broad APIs that allow for good and simple integration. This list is not exhaustive, and some of the smaller players, such as Teleos and VetIT, will offer “bespoke” integrations rather than a general API, but are philosophically open to the idea of integrating. Other PMS companies talk a lot about integration, but are not really open – they shall remain nameless – instead operating a fairly walled garden approach to access, often because they are concerned about losing revenue in areas that other tech operators may disrupt. As someone involved with a vet tech startup, I can tell you that innovation will be offered first to clinics using PMS systems that embrace innovation and have an open API.”

A take-away PMS guide

We understand there’s a lot to consider and take in, so we’ve created a short 10-page guide which includes:

Download for free now