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Veterinary • Article

Navigating technology for veterinary offices: Insights from experts

Efficiency and a great experience for staff, pet and pet owners should be the end goal of tech tools in modern veterinary practices.

Cassidy • March 25, 2024 • Read time: 10 min

Dog in vet waiting room

It is common for veterinary practices to struggle with rapidly evolving technology. Yet keeping up is the only way to improve patient outcomes and streamline operations while staying ahead of competition. From electronic health records to advanced diagnostic tools, technology offers many benefits, including enhanced patient care, and improved client communication.

Julie Kernohan, Operations Director at VetStrategy, and Tom Kandathil, Director of Operations/Care at Veterinary Practice Innovation offer practical advice and their expert perspectives on effectively incorporating technology into your veterinary practice, ensuring that you are well-equipped to navigate the complexities of technological integration and maximize the benefits for your clinic and patients. Read on for insights to optimize care and clinic operations in veterinary clinics and animal hospitals.

Table of contents:

  • Selecting the right software
  • Modern tech stack recommendations
    • Robust queueing and appointment booking software
    • Dictation software
    • AI Tools
  • How to approach staff training
  • Virtual care: a balancing act

Selecting the right software

Choosing the right software is crucial for modern veterinary practices seeking to seamlessly integrate technology into their daily operations.

Woman using her phone to book appointment or join queue for vet clinic with a dog in the frame.

When assessing software options, both experts highlighted the crucial aspect of ease of use. Kernohan underlines that new software, “must be easy to use,” and stresses that “it should be capable and simple to handle large amounts of data.” Kandathil echoes these sentiments, emphasizing that software should “require fewer clicks for the staff and the team” to effectively navigate the implementation of the new software. Additionally, he stresses that comprehensive training and ongoing support are important to ensure smooth adoption and utilization across the practice.

Ease of use also includes seamless integration with existing systems. “New technology is challenged to work effectively with existing tech,” stated Kandathil, reiterated by Kernohan, “Integrating new technology into our existing systems is the biggest challenge.” Many clinics face hurdles with permissions and communication when trying to integrate new software into their established workflows.  For example, she stated that “Most [technology solutions] have issues with permissions to access or communicate with the Practice Software”. Therefore, it is important to prioritize software that is “integrated with diagnostic equipment and capable of handling large amounts of data.” Integration with distribution warehouses is also an important consideration because, in her experience, this can be a big time saver.

Finally, cost is a significant factor when selecting software for veterinary practices. Kandathil underscores the importance of balancing cost with functionality and efficiency, ensuring that the chosen software provides value for the clinic without compromising on essential features.

Modern tech stack recommendations

An efficient and effective tech stack is the foundation for greatly improved operations and increased client satisfaction.

Woman, child, dog and veterinarian in a vet clinic

Robust queueing and appointment booking software

Queueing and booking systems play a pivotal role in managing patient flow, ensuring smooth appointments, and minimizing wait times. By implementing queueing and automated appointment solutions, clinics can streamline check-in processes, allocate resources efficiently, and mitigate chaos in waiting rooms, which is particularly important when accommodating multiple pets in crowded environments. These systems not only improve operational efficiency but also enhance client satisfaction by reducing wait times and congestion, fostering respect for clients’ time.

Going one step further to ensure the selected systems provide all the essential features is critical. For example, Kernohan recommends implementing “Automated reminders and text messaging“, while Kandathil suggests incorporating “auto-booking” to optimize operations and improve patient care. These facilitate sending reminders for appointments, allowing patients to book, modify, and cancel appointments, as well as handling medication refills and preventive care. Thereby increasing the chance of missed appointments and enhancing client engagement.

Moreover, queueing solutions contribute to a positive work environment for clinic staff by alleviating the stress associated with managing busy schedules. An ideal queue management tool seamlessly integrates booking functionalities, further enhancing operational efficiency and ensuring a smooth experience for both clients and staff.

Dictation software

Dictation software is a game-changer for modern veterinary practices, offering a streamlined solution for note-taking and record-keeping. By allowing veterinarians to dictate notes instead of manually entering them, this technology saves time and boosts productivity. With less time spent on paperwork, veterinarians can focus more on delivering top-notch care to their animal patients. Kernohan highlights the importance of dictation software, saying, “It’s very appealing to help improve the efficiency of our doctors.” This emphasizes the software’s significant impact in improving efficiency and effectiveness in veterinary medicine. By embracing dictation software, veterinary practices can simplify their workflows, enhance operational efficiency, and ultimately provide better care for their patients.

AI Tools

Embracing AI in the veterinary industry represents a transformative advancement, offering accelerated processes and cost-effective solutions. With artificial intelligence, clinics can unlock enhanced diagnostic capabilities and streamline treatment procedures. As Kandathil says, “It improves speed and can be cost-effective.” AI algorithms analyze vast amounts of data, enabling veterinarians to achieve more accurate and timely diagnoses, leading to improved patient outcomes. Furthermore, AI-powered tools facilitate monitoring patient health trends, predicting potential diseases, and optimizing treatment plans, revolutionizing veterinary care. This integration not only yields efficiency gains but also fosters innovation and excellence, empowering practitioners to deliver superior care and ensure the well-being of their animal patients.

How to approach staff training in modern veterinary practices

When it comes to staff training in veterinary clinics, Kernohan emphasizes the importance of consistent training. “We are generally pretty forward-thinking about technology in our industry as long as there is consistent training available and we believe the product is going to help.” This highlights the need for support to ensure staff are equipped to effectively utilize new technologies.

Veterinarian and dog

On the other hand, Kandathil acknowledges the challenge of getting teams to embrace new technology, noting that many are satisfied with the status quo: “Changing the mindset is the biggest challenge.” To address this, he suggests a hands-on approach to training using a ‘Show & Tell” approach where the new tech is demonstrated while verbally training the team: “Guided practice” which allows the team to use the tech in a risk-free environment while being walked through its functionalities. This approach not only familiarizes staff with the technology but also builds their confidence in using it effectively, ultimately driving successful implementation within the clinic.

Virtual care: a balancing act

Virtual care in veterinary practice presents a delicate balancing act, as highlighted by Kernohan and Kandathil. Kernohan underscores the limitations of virtual consultations, stating, “Virtual consultations are limited in the scope of work they can perform. A true physical exam is much more important in determining issues with an animal than any online consultation can provide.” She emphasizes the significance of a physical examination in diagnosing animal health issues, as it allows for a comprehensive assessment that virtual consultations cannot replicate. While online consultations can aid in identifying emergencies, they are constrained in their ability to provide accurate diagnoses without appropriate testing and physical interaction with the patient.

People and dogs in a veterinary clinic waiting area

Kandathil acknowledges the potential of virtual care as a growth lever, indicating its increasing importance in the industry. However, implementing virtual care requires careful consideration of its limitations and the essential role of physical examinations in veterinary medicine. Balancing the benefits of virtual care with the necessity of hands-on assessment is crucial in providing comprehensive and effective care to animal patients.

Ultimately, efficiency and a great experience for staff and customers should be the end goal of tech tools in modern veterinary practices. Whether it’s waiting room management, record management, diagnosis, or care, keeping up with modern best practices and deliberate selection of tech tools can make all the difference.