How to pick the best software for your veterinary practice
By Brian Topper
Veterinary practices are navigating a whole new world these days. Whether you're seeking to integrate contactless systems due to the pandemic or optimize cloud-based platforms for remote work, finding the right combination of software to help you improve efficiency, save on operating costs, and increase value to your clients, is imperative.
Software solutions that help create an optimized workflow and enhanced client offering are important, but look for products with the flexibility to adapt as your needs evolve over time.
The ideal software solution helps you stay competitive
Veterinarians face unique challenges as they strive to keep up with industry-wide best practices—particularly during the era of COVID-19– and evolving client expectations. You may have enhanced sanitization practices to maintain, curbside check-ins to facilitate and staggered staffing schedules to manage.
As you think about how technology can help with new challenges such as social distancing protocols, you may be considering things like telehealth and advanced client communications to stay competitive.
The right software should help you to:
- Maintain revenue streams and stay competitive.
- Communicate with existing clients and market to new ones in ways that meet their needs and improve your insights.
- Improve access to monitor non-compliance issues that might lead to future health problems for your pet patients.
A strong client engagement platform will help you stay competitive with larger practices without losing that close relationship your clients cherish. Consider these features:
- Cloud-based solutions that allow access to important information from any location and on any device.
- Platforms that integrate with your practice management system, so you can capitalize on client compliance, retention and improving health outcomes without breaking your stride in practice.
- A patient portal where clients can request appointments and refills online, get medical reminders and keep track of advice from past appointments. For an added bonus, consider a platform that includes a loyalty program for client retention. The best solutions also include chat or two-way texting.
- Email is still an important method of communication, so, automated email reminders for appointments and medications, mass emails about important updates and follow-up surveys to ensure everyone on staff follows best practices.
- Noncompliance alerts, such as informing your practice when medications aren't refilled or when a client fails to schedule an appointment. Some platforms can also flag outdated data, such as old email addresses or phone numbers.
Look for solutions that maximize contact-free options
During the COVID-19 pandemic, integrating telehealth software into your veterinary practice is vital to meet your clients' needs when in-person visits are not possible. Such platforms allow veterinarians to offer online consulting for pet health questions. Some telehealth apps even triage pet care, letting clients know when they should schedule an in-person appointment or if the veterinarian can address their concern with a telemedicine consult.
Practices should ask in advance how well the telehealth service will integrate with their practice management system and their existing workflow.
When a pet needs to come in for a checkup, consider offering digital, touchless check-ins for safe curbside operations. Couple that with hands-free payment options to help clients feel more comfortable about transactions and easy to access patient care credit to help spread the cost.
Watch for red flags in your software agreements
Before you sign any contract with a new software service, watch for these red flags:
- Your customers value their data privacy. Ask the company what steps it takes to make sure their data isn't hacked. For example, many companies employ two-factor authentication.
- When signing a contract, find out how long the contract lasts and what the penalties are for ending a contract early. Avoid any contracts that might lock you into an agreement even if the software solution later becomes obsolete.
- You don't want to risk losing data about your clients' pets. They need to know their files are safe with you and won't be lost. So check into how all the data is being stored and protected. If there is an emergency or you lose your local file, is the data stored on the cloud somewhere?
- Ask about how the company is going to use your data. You don't want the software company selling your clients' data to third parties. Make sure stipulations about that are in your contract.
Veterinary practices should seek out software that enhances communication with their clients, integrates well with the practice workflow you have, or plan to have (including social-distancing protocols), social-distancing protocols, and protects the data from third-parties or leaks. If you're willing to do the research, you can find a solution that makes your practice more efficient and drives patient loyalty.