Getting bogged down with routine time-consuming daily functions can be a big distraction for any busy practice.
When admin tasks overload staff, they take away from other, more valuable, tasks like attending to clients and patients. While office admin is always a part of good business practice, it makes sense to harness technology to increase practice efficiency and profitability.
Here are five tips on how to use automated solutions to improve your business processes and systems:
Use automated reminders and recalls
Consider this typical scenario: A client is due for their next appointment, so you give them a call to remind them of the date and time. They’re busy at work, so your call goes through to voicemail. You leave a message but get no response. A few days later, you give them another call and get their voicemail again.
We’ve all experienced the frustration of trying to contact busy clients, which is time-consuming and often ineffective. And, while trying to make contact even once by phone can be a struggle to fit into a busy work schedule, industry best practice suggests that recalls are most effective when clients are reminded three times using three different methods – text, email and post – immediately before and after the recall due date.
Many practices continue to rely on traditional channels and manual methods to contact customers and schedule appointments – all done during business hours. It’s easy to forget (or ignore) that this effort takes the focus away from customers in-office. With changes in technology and communication, most clients these days are used to instant, electronic messaging and they don’t respond well to ‘old school’ methods of communication any longer.
In a typical practice, losing just one appointment a day can cost over $66,000 in revenue each year. This calculation doesn’t even take into account the time and money wasted making numerous follow-up calls to schedule and remind clients – as well as money lost through no-shows.
Automated scheduling and confirmation can free up your staff to focus on value-add tasks, increase reminder compliance and reduce no-shows by up to 50%. Having integrated software that automatically recalls clients through each of the key channels of communication not only reduces staff time significantly, it also means that clients can respond to reminders at their convenience.
Provide the option for online booking
Just as reminding clients about their upcoming appointments can take up significant admin time, so too can scheduling appointments. While on the face of it this may seem like a ‘quick task’, scheduling a single appointment generally takes about three to five minutes. Multiply this by the number of appointments scheduled each day – plus the fact many clients won’t be reachable on the first try – and this can add up to a significant amount of time on the phone booking client appointments.
By contrast, having an online booking system simplifies things dramatically for both your front office staff and your clients. With an online booking system, clients don’t have to commit to an appointment date and time during their visit – they can do this at a time and place that suits them on their device of choice.
In fact, practices with an online booking facility report that 50 percent of all appointments made using an online booking system are made outside of regular business hours, and 17 percent are from new clients. With an online booking system, your reception desk is essentially available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
An online booking system captures appointments which might otherwise be ‘lost’, by offering your clients booking convenience and saving your practice valuable staff time. This is a level of service that cannot be provided in any other way.
Simplify your note taking
To produce the best outcome for clients, it’s important that a practice and its veterinary professionals have all the necessary information at their fingertips. This makes thorough note-taking an essential part of an appointment. With a limited amount of time for each consultation, combined with the rush of back-to-back appointments, note-taking can sometimes miss out on the attention it deserves.
With practice management software that incorporates note-taking, however, this process can be adhered to far more efficiently. Rather than typing up a new consultation checklist each time, note templates for common conditions can be stored and subsequently edited for each new patient. With many practitioners only having a few minutes to spare in-between appointments (if they’re lucky) this simple feature can be a serious time saver and efficiency boost to your practice administration.
Keep all your information in one place
Another aspect of administration work that can be headache-inducing is the organization of the high volume of information that flows through a busy veterinary practice. This is particularly true if it’s generated from multiple sources; it can be extremely time-consuming to keep a handle on your business documentation without a good system in place.
Rather than wasting valuable time trying to manually catalogue and corroborate all the information you need, it helps to have all your patient data automatically captured in one centralized location. A good practice management solution will include ‘whiteboard’ functionality, with patient notes captured in real-time on their medical record and invoice.
This results in less back and forth between admin staff and practitioners, as all staff members have the most up-to-date information on a patient available in one place.
Another characteristic of efficient and effective practices is the ability to organize and communicate quickly and easily with staff. In a fast-paced, busy practice this can be easier said than done. Digital worklists do away with endless emails and post-it notes and show action items and requests within your practice in a single location, including who they’ve been assigned to.
This means that each staff member has a clear idea of what they need to do and by when. Having these clear accountabilities streamlines your practice workflow, prevent frustration and save valuable staff time.