Industry-leading practice management software for exceptional animal care

How tech can help vet practices manage the future of work

2022 was a tough year for employers in all sectors. But Darren Beake, our Development Director believes that focusing on technology can help vet practices future-proof their businesses and their talent pipepline.

The Great Resignation. The War for Talent. Burn-out, stress, fatigue. Working from home. Not working from home. What do Generation Z expect from employers. Plus a few good old-fashioned New Year’s resolutions to cut stress, work smarter and leave the practice by 5pm on a Friday at least once a month.

If you’re a practice owner or manager, I’ve no doubt these are just a few of the issues you’re going to be bumping up against over the weeks ahead. Particularly when teams reset their objectives and plans for 2023 after returning from their Christmas breaks refreshed and full of good intentions.

While it might be tempting to shrug off some of these trends and movements (after all, there are parts of practice life which are just not possible from home), seeing our industry as somehow separate from the rest of the world of work is to take a short-sighted view. I won’t rehash familiar issues like burn-out, mental ill health and the volume of vets planning to leave the profession. But I do believe it’s important, and empowering, to see these crisis points as destinations at the end of a long journey, with plenty of opportunities to course-correct along the way.

Today’s tech solutions offer many ways for switched-on managers to nurture and support talent, helping teams achieve their own work-life balance ambitions while still delivering an excellent service that builds true loyalty in the community.

1. Prioritise positive

It’s important to remember the things that attracted your vets to the profession in the first place – ask yourself ‘what’s the good stuff?’ – a rather unscientific name for the kind of human and animal contact that builds relationships and connections. For example, some practices prioritise billable work over the customer follow-ups, phone calls and animal checks. But that’s a false economy. We’re built for human contact, and we all love good news – a day without any of that ‘good stuff’ can be relentless. Using technology to help your vets balance their days is a powerful tool in the mental wellbeing box.

Integrating your PMS with third party apps such Pets App and Vet Help Direct can allow for contact with owners, without taking too much time or adding to workloads. Using technology to support these positive moments has both a positive impact on the customers’ perceptions of the practice and also gives powerful rewards to colleagues. It’s why your vets show up to work in the morning.

2. Get to grips with the to do list

It’s true that we’re unlikely to see vets becoming full-time home-workers any time soon. But with cloud-based technology, a big chunk of the daily tasks (follow up calls, reporting test results and admin) can happen from anywhere, at any time. The flexibility to leave early for sports day or to simply beat the traffic can have an exponentially positive impact. Use tech to help you aim for a sweet spot where teams start to feel in control of their workload, rather than the other way around.

With mobile app accessible practice management systems, vets can take core business functionality anywhere. Downloading data to their device means working from home, on the road, or a field or yard are all possibilities. Vets can work through notes, conduct follow-up calls and emails and, once back on the network, simply upload it all to the main system again. This puts vets in control of their workload – for example, some will choose to dedicate a block of time to admin at the start or end of the day, while others will take five minutes to write up or dictate consultation notes in the car before moving onto the next case – either way, it’s breathing space that the vets control.

3. Manage diaries fairly

Naturally, more senior vets may have more on their shoulders but it’s important for practice managers to be across the collective diary to spot issues or imbalances. Sophisticated diary management tools can help managers to spot positive and negative patterns emerging and manage issues proactively.

Configuring practice management software to show a cross-business view allows managers to spot and track vets with work overload and underutilisation, as well as client waiting times. Schedules and workloads are then reconfigured to support the whole team and client experience using the same tech.

Retention of talent is a big challenge in the industry – some practices use their PMS to make sure junior team members gain broad experience across species, cases and customers. Powerful reporting can show where vets spend their time and this data can be used to proactively schedule resource – another important way to both retain talent and manage stress.

4. Making your date work harder for you

We know that the cost of living crisis is biting, with some practices reporting that customers are delaying treatment as a way of reducing household costs. No matter how sympathetic vets are to this, it clearly adds to the mental load – there is little more upsetting than seeing a case that could have been solved easily had the vet seen the animal sooner. Regular and relevant communications can remind customers of the services available, warn against common issues and above all reassure customers that getting their animal seen is the right course of action.

So how can managers make this work for them? Start with the basics

It is critical to enter valid data into your PMS. Any software worth its money will run health checks on the data, checking for things like valid email addresses (including an @ for example) and incomplete mobile numbers. Where data is missing, the system will raise an alert so the user can check each profile. Our software flag when contact details expire – an email bounces back or a mobile number is no longer in use. So you are constantly cleansing your database, so you know you can reach all your customers when you need to.

Segmenting to improve your customer experience

No-one likes a busy inbox, and we all hate irrelevant emails and ads. So managing your customers’ communication preferences is a must for all businesses (not just veterinary practices!). VetIT PMS continually tracks GDPR so takes the headache away! We can also support targeted campaigns, ensuring your customers are only served information and reminders that are relevant to them.

By segmenting your audience and flow of information, you improve the quality of the communication and, by extension, your reputation. We can segmented audiences in many ways – by client group, health plan subscription, breed, species, prescription – the list is endless. Whatever the purpose of the communication, properly targeted and segmented information will be seen as trustworthy, timely and helpful. This builds stronger customer relationships, leading to regular re-bookings, fewer missed appointments and stronger revenue streams.


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