With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing most Americans to spend more time at home, the year 2020 was one of explosive pet adoption and ownership. Slightly more than half of American households already owned pets and that number rose to over 4% according to a study by Packaged Facts. With over 71 million households now owning a pet (96% of which are dogs and cats), the demand for veterinary care is understandably on the rise as well.
Representing 31% of pet owners, Millennials represent a shift away from the Boomer generation of pet-owning. What does this mean? A shift in expectations to digital care and communications.
In the past, older generations of pet owners did not have access to robust digital communications from their veterinarians. Making appointments by phone, faxing medical records, and receiving appointment cards in the mail has been–until recently–the industry norm for client relations at many practices and hospitals.
Millennials, however, not only want digital communications, they expect them. According to a survey by OpenMarket, 76% of Millennials prefer texting over any other communication and 19% say they never check their voicemail.
If your clinic or hospital is relying on phone, mail, or email alone to communicate with clients, you could lose them to a more technologically savvy practice or not retain them after an initial visit.
The so-called ‘pet boom’ of the past year has overtaxed the veterinary industry in more ways than one. Besides having to shift business operations, health protocols, and pet healthcare practices, many clinics have been overwhelmed by the onslaught of new pet ownership in addition to their existing caseloads.
Before the pandemic, veterinary schools were already taxed with meeting demand. Now, with clinics and hospitals understaffed with more pet healthcare demand than ever, veterinarians need as much support as they can get to run their practices without burning out.
In an interview with the New York Post, Dr. Diona Krahn told reporters, “All of my practices are booking out several weeks in advance. Clients are actually calling around and scheduling appointments at multiple locations, and even resorting to emergency care facilities.”
Given the high demand for pet care, streamlining communications is a must, which is why a cloud-based veterinary system can offload much of the logistical burden it takes to run a practice. And, given that the majority of pet owners prefer digital communications to voice and written ones, now is the time to adopt a cloud-based system that appeals to clients’ needs and addresses veterinarians’ stress.
With remote work the new norm, many existing and new pet owners have had more time to spend with their pets. And while many people are returning to the office, some level of remote work “is here to stay,” according to Forbes.
Pet owners who spend more time with their pets is a good thing, but it also means higher spending on veterinary care. In fact, according to a study by the Pet Foods Association, Americans spent nearly $99 billion on pet care in 2020–a record high.
With more and younger pet owners spending increased time working remotely at home with their pets, many of those same owners will expect remote and digital services from vet care providers.
How is your practice handling the pet boom? If you’d like to streamline your patient care and alleviate office backlogs, request a demo.
One of the biggest headaches at any veterinary hospital or hospital system is managing patient records and workflows. Information needs to be easily accessible, yet secure; quickly updatable, yet safely managed. Often, these hospital workflow systems evolve over time with different softwares, processes, and paper trails. Over time, these ad-hoc systems begin to create more bottlenecks than efficiencies because each moving part is rarely in conversation with another.
Electronic treatment flowsheets solve these problems because they elegantly upload, share, and protect vital information. From digital patient sign-ins to medical charts to signature captures and more, electronic treatment flowsheets rapidly accelerate the time it takes to manage digital paperwork to allow for more time caring for animal patients.
While it may seem reassuring to have all your client paperwork at your fingertips in a filing cabinet, there are many reasons why paper files slow down hospital response times and communications.
Say, for instance, a female pet owner brings in a dog with an emergency–the dog may be treated and receive a new file even if he’s visited at a prior time with the owner’s husband. Now, there are two files on the same animal that may–or may not–be reconciled.
Or, say you need to send appointment reminders for routine visits or follow-ups to your thousands of clients. There is no way to track those requests with paper files that is not incredibly time-consuming.
Also, should there be any catastrophic situation to the physical location of your hospital, all of your patient files will most likely be lost forever. Fires, floods, mold, and natural disasters can destroy hospitals and their records if they are on-site.
The aforementioned point about losing files in a catastrophic situation does not just apply to paperwork–any of those events could destroy your servers as well. What’s worse is that servers degrade over time, so the expense of maintaining and upgrading them regularly is particularly costly given this vulnerability.
Also, on-site servers are far more susceptible to data breaches, corruption, and deterioration in ways that cloud-based systems are not. Having all of your medical information on a cloud-based system alleviates all of these issues and still allows you to have more efficient workflows.
The simple answer is analytics. With cloud-based veterinary software, you can easily track the performance of your workflows, your communications, and your task completion rates to eliminate any inefficiencies. With these data insights, you can then set performance goals to provide better care to your animal patients and better service to your clients.
One of the best benefits of electronic treatment flowsheets is financial–digital record audits that find missed billing, non-payments, and lost fees can boost revenue with little effort. The less time doctors and medical clerks spend tracking down this information, communicating it to the client, and following up, the more time the hospital can spend on growing and serving its patient pool.
Ready to switch to a cloud-based system to have electronic treatment workflows? Request a demo.
It’s been well over a year since the start of the pandemic when veterinary clinics had to shift operations. From drive-thru visits to telemedicine care, veterinary practices had to pivot in order to maintain top-quality care while protecting the health of their staff as well as the health of pets and their owners.
It is expected that nearly 75% of the country will be vaccinated for COVID-19 by the summer, but with some areas of the country making more progress than others, it can be difficult to decide how ‘back to normal’ clinics should be.
Before rushing to have filled waiting rooms at your practice, identify the digital aspects that enhanced care during last year’s telehealth boon. One way to do this is to survey clients about the remote care they received and how it was beneficial for them.
Ask your clients what they loved about the ability to get access to their pet’s health records online or receiving reminders and updates by SMS text. If your clinic did not provide these services, ask them if they would prefer them as an option moving forward.
According to a survey conducted by the AVMA, over three-quarters of clinics asked clients to wait in their cars for safer animal drop-off and pick-up. While this protocol may not have been ideal for some pet owners, using cloud-based communications with clients to update them on the health status of pets provided peace of mind. In fact, the majority of people under the age of 50 communicate primarily by text, and this is the fastest-growing demographic of pet owners.
Once you’ve gathered your responses, decide which virtual and distanced options you want to keep (or even add) to your practice’s day-to-day operations. Ideally, you can provide both in-person and drive-up care options as well as consistent digital communications and file management for all of your clients.
For clients who want to bring their pets into your clinic, be sure to remind them about wearing masks and being transparent about any symptoms they may be experiencing. There was a 15% rise in animal adoptions last year, so there will likely be many new and first-time pet owners visiting your facility.
As your practice adapts to the changing public health situation, be sure to always communicate expectations and changes to your clients. By using a cloud-based veterinary software that can manage not only pet medical records but automate online messaging, your clinic can ensure its staff and clients are on the same page.
Being in close communication with your clients means that they can feel empowered to take care of their pet’s health.
Ready to switch to a cloud-based system to provide easier, safer care to your clients? Request a demo to see why Onward Vet is the premier software for top clinics and hospitals.
Many vets use paper-based or on-site server-based software to manage patient records. However, increasingly many practices are making the switch to cloud-based software systems because there are significant advantages.
Before we go any further, you may be wondering what exactly is cloud-based software? While it may sound like a new technology, you most likely use some type of cloud-based software every day. From phone apps, to document sharing sites, to email and more, many applications that people use on a daily basis are supported by the cloud and not by on-site servers.
Cloud-based software has significant advantages because updates, debugging, upgrades, and other changes are all made seamlessly on the backend without downtime or lost data. Instant file retrievals and transfers on the cloud are also safer than using data storage on a local server.
One of the best benefits of cloud-based software is its ability to allow secure file sharing without data limits. For veterinarians, this is especially key when tracking pet health records, client information, and supporting health and financial documents.
In fact, according to a study by the International Data Group, nearly all businesses surveyed (94%) saw a significant increase in security as well as a significant cost savings when they switch to a cloud-based system. Some of the benefits cited include:
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have seen a digital transformation, especially veterinary clinics forced to offer telehealth and social distanced services. Staying ahead of the competition, especially in tight urban and rural markets, can help practices grow more quickly without backlogs, veterinarian burnout and client frustration.
With so many ways to contact and communicate with your staff and clients, it is essential to use a system that can accomodate high-volume communications that is safe and secure. Scheduling appointments, sending appointment reminders, sharing medical information across teams or practices, and so much more, allows for streamlined communications with all stakeholders.
The main benefit of a secure, cloud-based system that supports robust data-sharing is scalability. If your practice is able to automate messaging to clients, your vets and vet techs can focus more on the high-touch services that clients expect. Manually tracking appointment scheduling, reminders, and health records means that much of your time managing your practice is busywork that cannot be devoted to pet care or scaling your services.
Let’s face it–managing paper records and phone messages is a sure-fire way to lose track of them. However, by using a client portal with medical records, reminders, appointment requests, 2-way SMS texting, and more, all of your client information can be stored and shared without fear of information or data gaps.
A veterinary cloud-based system offers peace of mind because the information is stored on the cloud and not local servers. While many clinic owners believe it’s better to have their data stored on-site, it actually can be very problematic and costly. Servers can go down, equipment needs to be upgraded regularly, and, on occasion, the entire system can fail and lose all of its data. With a cloud-based system, it’s not possible for this data failure to happen because the information is being updated in real-time on a remote, secure server.
Finally, one of the best reasons to use cloud-based veterinary software is the outside support you receive should you have any questions or concerns. At Onward Vet, we don’t just have a customer service line, we have dedicated support specialists who know our clients and their practices intimately. This is extremely advantageous to veterinary clinics–especially hospital systems–because our team can handle specialized customizations and troubleshoot in real-time.
Not having to rely on an in-house IT person means that you get the best of both worlds–an expert team that is available to help you scale instead of constantly fixing problems on-site. Dedicated support specialists understand not just how veterinarian practices operate, they understand the specifics of your type of practice and how to best provide software as a service.
Ready to switch to a cloud-based system to have electronic treatment workflows? Request a demo.
Linda Wasche, MBA, MA
LW Marketworks inc.
I went to a local low-cost spay / neuter clinic yesterday. Yes, I admit it. And I know you will not be happy. The clinic makes it affordable for me help homeless cats. It also allows me to study low-cost services. This one offers spay/neuter, wellness exams, dental procedures, vaccines, and treatment of eye/ear infections and URI.
Many full service veterinary practices view low-clinics as a threat. However practices that are able to create new RELEVANCY for today’s pet owners should have nothing to worry about.
What can practices do to boost revenue with increasing threats from low-cost clinics, chains and shelters? It’s time to rethink your marketing. Here are three ways to make a significant impact on your practice’s bottom line.
Number 1: Focus on growing current clients.
Before you go out looking for new clients, make sure your practice is working to boost usage among existing ones. It’s much easier — and less costly — to get current clients to use more services than to try to attract new ones.
However, if your practice offers the same services as clinics and other practices, you may be losing clients to low-cost options. When services are perceived as identical – and lack distinguishing differences— price becomes the only differentiator. So its important to look for ways to make your services more RELEVANT and MEANINGFUL to pet owners. In other words, by providing services that you can’t easily get elsewhere – that represent VALUE for pet owners.
Number 2: Segment your client base.
Ok – so how do you make services more RELEVANT? You SEGMENT. To effectively reach existing clients, you first have to know WHO they are. Successful businesses segment their client base so that they can better understand differing customer / client needs and wants. Without segmentation, services become diluted and your practice may be at risk of “trying to be everything to everybody.” Never a good idea. Segment your clients / patients into groups with similar traits and needs. For example, some practices may see opportunities in TARGETING:
– Big dogs Small dogs
– Cats with chronic conditions High risk breeds
– Senior pets Active / performance pets
To segment, you will need the right practice management software that allows you to IDENTIFY and TRACK key client VARIABLES. Today, having the right software is absolutely critical to not only identifying who your clients are, but to being able to launch effective preventive care and outreach efforts.
Number 3: Develop TARGETED services.
Once you have segmented your client /patient base and defined your targets, create services and programs that proactively reach out to these targets. Remember that pet owners easily access information SPECIFIC to their particular pet just by Google-ing. So reaching out to pet owners with services and programs tailored to their particular type of pet makes good sense.
There are two ways to do this:
1. With targeted services and programs
Big dogs have different health issues than small ones. Certain breeds of cat and dog face greater health risks. Performance pets get more injuries. Creating services and programs around segments such as these not only appeals to pet owners, but also POSITIONS the practice as more credible in looking out for these types of pets.
2. With targeted information
Similarly target information, alerts, bulletins, workshops and other forms of client outreach to help pet owners become partners in early detection and preventive pet care.
Looking for ways to proactively reach out to pet owner segments with services and information relevant to their type of pet is not only good marketing, its good medicine. Because when you are relevant, you are more likely to ENGAGE a pet owner and capture his/her attention. Plus you have created something that they cannot easily get elsewhere. Not down the street and definitely not at that low cost clinic.
For more information on client segmentation and developing relevant and meaningful veterinary services, contact Linda Wasche at LindaW@LWmarketworks.com. For more information on customizable practice management software, contact Rajat Sharma, Onward Vet, at email@example.com or (909) 851-3911.
Onward Vet is going to be exhibiting at the Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas, from Feb 15-19, 2015. Stop by our booth #2013 to say hi and learn more about the platform. We can’t wait to meet you!
Though all of the fuzzy faces may make the average person forget, a veterinarian knows that their workplace is the same as a doctor’s office — just for pets. And like any doctor’s office, it needs to be clean, friendly and, above all, organized. After all, there are prescriptions to fill, lab results to get, supplies to reorder, and procedures to carry out, sometimes at short notice. All of these things and more need to be taken care of efficiently and correctly so that the patients and their concerned owners can move on with their lives. Here are some of the easiest and best ways to ensure that the office is set up for success.
Setting Patients and Owners at Ease
It’s important to set pets and their owners at ease from the first moment that they enter the office. Not only should the room feel and look welcoming, the check-in process should be efficient and systematized so that there are no misunderstandings. Payment requirements and options should be clearly outlined so that there are no problems at the end of the visit.
Personnel should be friendly and unintimidating, from the receptionist who greets patients to the person who administers a pet’s shots. The vets should be especially able to develop bonds with animals quickly, and be comfortable both calming them down and restraining them, if necessary.
Keeping the Clinic Clean
Keeping a vet’s office clean isn’t just a matter of getting rid of undesirable smells (though it certainly factors in), but also of keeping pets and their owners safe.
The office is going to be littered with different animal matter throughout the day — that’s just the nature of the beast. From the dog that bleeds on the floor because he had a bite taken out of him by a bigger dog to the cat that gets nervous and urinates all over the place (not to mention the fur that will undoubtedly cover everything if allowed to accumulate), there will be hazards everywhere. Fecal matter and urine can contain any number of bacteria, fur can carry flea larvae, and if a puddle is left on the floor, there is also the chance that someone could slip and sue.
This makes it absolutely necessary to clean and maintain all areas of the office, not just the exam rooms. The floor should be swept and trash emptied regularly, any messes should be cleaned up immediately, and every examination room should be wiped down with chemical disinfectant after each patient.
A veterinary clinic will need to organize its information for both its own good and the good of the clients — and there’s a lot of information to handle. From patient invoices and e-mail appointment reminders to prescription records and vaccination histories, there are many, many things to keep track of. Using a paper-based system has led to a number of mistakes and oversights in the past that have often ended in frustration or worse.
In recent years, many doctor’s offices have started to digitize their records and use software to manage their information, so why shouldn’t a vet’s office? Onward Vet offers specially-designed veterinary office management software that anticipates the particular needs of this kind of clinic. The program utilizes Cloud software to keep data secure, as well electronic signature devices that can be used on iPads and Android devices. The software is easy to use and customizable, so that it can be seamlessly integrated into the workings of any office.
Running a vet’s office carries with it all the complexities and frustrations of any other doctor’s office. However, by creating a well-managed and welcoming space, the people who run these establishments can make it a bit easier on everyone.
Diamond Bar, CA —January 07, 2014 – Onward Vet, a leading provider of practice management software to veterinary clinics and hospitals, will exhibit its innovative product at the North American Veterinary Community Conference (NAVC) from January 19th through 22nd in Orlando, Florida.
The annual conference, which attracts more than 15,000 attendees and offers 650 exhibits, highlights innovations and the latest developments in the field of animal health.
Onward Vet will demonstrate its easy-to-use, cloud-based electronic health records system in Booth 4214 in the Marriott Hotel Exhibit Hall. In addition to a video loop demonstrating the software and showcasing its many benefits, company representatives will be on hand to answer questions and provide a more in-depth look at the system. Visitors who stop by the booth are also eligible to win an iPad, which will be given away on the final day of the conference.
Designed to help veterinarians easily, efficiently and effectively manage their hospitals without the headaches of in-house information technology, Onward Vet’s software system provides easy access to patient records, appointments, lab results, prescription information, billing, etc. It can run on a PC, laptop, Android tablet or iPad, allowing users to update patient status and records while on the go within their offices.
A simple user interface provides complete visibility in the clinic, from patient check-in through check out, allowing office staff to see where the patient is within a clinic or multi-hospital practice at any time throughout their visit. It also allows office staff to track every occurrence within the clinic, such as labs ordered and examination results, and provides billing at the touch of a button. Everything from appointment reminders to SOAP notes to inventory management can be handled through this convenience, cloud-based system.
“We are looking forward to meeting as many members of the veterinary community as we can during the NAVC conference,” notes Rajat Sharma, CEO, Onward Vet. “We are excited to demonstrate the ease of our veterinary practice management software, and show how simple and convenient it is to switch from manual or even other computerized systems to a cloud-based software system that enables practices to run smoothly without incurring the costs of in-house IT personnel to support it.”
About Onward Vet
Onward Vet was born with the mission to help veterinarians easily, efficiently, and effectively manage their hospitals without the headaches of in-house information technology and paper-based records. Onward Vet’s state-of-the-art, cloud-based veterinary practice management system offers an easy-to-use practice management system with no servers to maintain and the freedom of using any device and internet connection to access medical records from anywhere in the world.
The North American Veterinary Community Conference took place January 19 – 22 in Orlando, FL. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to attend, and to demonstrate the Onward Vet software to others in the veterinary field. We had close to 200 visitors at our booth and gained a lot of new customers and prospective customers!
The main reason many of our new clients signed on with us is because they like the fact that the Onward Vet management software is web-based. There’s no need to purchase hardware or software and no need to hire an IT team in case anything should go wrong. It’s more affordable, and most of our clients already have computers or iPads to use it on.
When we weren’t busy with our own booth, we got to speak with other professionals, and we noticed some very interesting, up-and-coming trends in veterinary care.
Acupuncture to Treat Pet Pain
It’s becoming more and more popular for veterinary clinics to offer acupuncture to ease the pain of pets with chronic illnesses, such as arthritis. Veterinary acupuncture encourages the body to release more pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory substances. It helps the muscles to relax, improves tissue blood flow, encourages oxygenation, and removes metabolic wastes and toxins. It’s becoming so popular because it lacks any of the adverse side-effects that often come with medications and supplements.
Another interesting practice that is gaining traction is the use of water-based treadmills. Dogs who require treatment are placed on treadmills that are submerged under water to get exercise and rehabilitation that is very low-impact. It’s a similar concept to pool therapy for humans and is showing promise for canine treatment.
Pressurized Oxygen Chambers
Pets requiring wound care are being placed in a pressurized oxygen chamber in order to keep tissue alive longer until proper treatment is available. Pressurized oxygen chambers cause the bloodstream to absorb oxygen much more quickly, which prevents tissue from decaying and making for a more successful recovery.
Third-Party Financing for Veterinary Procedures
It’s all too often that clients have pets requiring serious care, but they do not have the available funds or credit to pay for the medical procedures. More and more veterinarians are offering third-party financing. Since more customers can finance the cost of the procedures and pay for them in manageable installments, more pets are getting the care they need and more veterinarians are securing long-term customers. Fewer pets are being put down or being forced to suffer, which we’re very glad to hear!
Digital Cameras Used in Surgical Procedures
Surgical procedures performed on pets are becoming more efficient, precise, and successful with the use of digital cameras. Animal surgeons are utilizing flexible tubes with cameras and lights on the end, which magnify onto a monitor, to see more easily the intricate details as they perform a procedure. Surgery outcomes, as a result, have been much better.
We’re excited by all of the cutting-edge trends we saw at the show! We look forward to next year’s conference where we will surely see a new round of exciting technologies emerging in veterinary care and practice management.
As we discussed in an earlier blog post, Onward Vet’s cloud-based veterinary software is a good avenue for clinics that want to go paperless but don’t want the hassle of IT issues. One of the biggest benefits that it offers, though, is an interface that provides direct access to in-house lab equipment such as IDEXX VetLab Station. IDEXX VetLab Interface provides benefits to veterinarians in addition to those provided by the rest of the Onward Vet software. Here’s a brief overview of how it can streamline the processes of a clinic.
Increases Medical Capabilities
Whenever a test is run on a patient at a lab, results are stored in a report via the IDEXX VetLab Station interface Additional tests and results are compiled into the same report over time, creating a cumulative representation of results and progress. This makes it easy to visualize recent results in comparison with past results, putting the progress into context. It also makes it much easier for the vet to detect abnormalities, which is better for the pet’s health. Veterinarians can view a graph of the patient’s results over time and easily detect changes so that health problems can be nipped in the bud.
Makes a More Productive Office
More time than you probably realize is wasted on data entry; often, receptionists enter the same data for the same patient more than once. Onward Vet stores all IDEXX VetLab results about a patient in its storage cloud, making it unnecessary to rummage through files, manually copy down information, and perform other tedious tasks. This is not only quicker and more efficient, it reduces the amount of errors, making the office a more productive place.
Provides Streamlined Business Management
The bottom line is that customers like to know that they’re visiting an organized and well-maintained office. No one wants to dread visiting the clinic, knowing they’ll have a long wait time while the receptionist digs up old records and copies down new ones. Having a streamlined management system helps to gain customer loyalty. It also provides employees with the peace of mind of accuracy – they’ll know every test result will be attributed to the right patient, since it’s done automatically. Most importantly, it’s cost-effective. It keeps track of important patient records, like prescriptions and bills, ensuring that payments are up to date. Visitors are happy with the quick and easy service, and you will never compromise profits by forgetting to collect a bill.
Having such software is beneficial for clinic owners, pets, pet owners, and employees. When records don’t get lost and service is quick, everyone is satisfied and the job gets done efficiently.