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How to improve practice profitability using your Practice Management Software

Healthy financial performance should be on the radar for every practice – and taking a closer look at your existing PMS is one of the easiest ways to unlock profitability. Martin Beake explains all...

No matter what kind of animals they treat, most vet practices aim to create a sustainable business model: a compassionate, skilled team that’s valued by the community, delivering an excellent service for a fair return. To get there, you need the team to work smart, managing admin, billing, appointments, stock management and all the daily juggle of a busy, successful business.

I’ve long thought that too many practices see their Practice Management Software (PMS) as a simple admin tool – sitting quietly in the background, dealing with admin tasks, almost unseen. I like to challenge that view. I believe anyone interested in building a sustainable practice should start by reframing their PMS, using it as a powerful tool to drive financial performance through every aspect of their business.

But where to start? By taking a step back. When you installed your PMS, there was likely a huge focus on training. Naturally, that reduced over time as the system bedded in. But setting aside time, maybe twice a year, to take a long hard look at your system will pay dividends. Ask questions, dig out the initial spec and manual, talk to your vendor. Think about ‘what can we do’ instead of ‘what are we doing’. Is the team getting the most out of what they already have? What are your practice’s headaches – GDPR, stock wastage, poor communication with clients. Is the solution literally staring you in the face?

Here are five simple ways for practices to improve efficiency, wastage, staff morale or customer engagement, all through PMS.

1. API-powered accuracy

Without getting too techy, APIs (application processing interfaces) allow two applications to connect and interact. Essentially, APIs help information flow in, out and through your practice, without user intervention, saving money and time. For example, connecting with insurers, wholesalers and other third parties is constant in vet practices. Traditionally, this involved humans (or several humans) taking information from one system, by hand (often using the time-honoured medium of the post-it note), then transferring it to the third party’s system. That’s both time-consuming and error-prone. Using an API to seamlessly transfer data between systems changes the game. You’ll see benefits like claims being paid faster, stock orders arriving more smoothly and team time freeing up, as your people spend less time processing, chasing and correcting.

2. Drive your data

Clean, accurate data is the oil of your practice engine. Whether it’s inaccurate email addresses, comms going to the wrong customers or digits missing from mobile numbers, messy data costs money and hurts sales opportunities. But by making the most of your PMS, you can track bounces and consistently clean your data plus ensure you stay on the right side of GDPR requirements – reducing the risk of any fines.

All good stuff leading to clean communications, which in turn leads to more kept appointments, seamless repeat prescriptions and powerful marketing opportunities.

3. Spruce up your stock cupboard

I know, you didn’t get into vet practice because you were inspired by a tidy stock cupboard. But spending cash on stock that goes out of date or isn’t used is the veterinary equivalent of pouring money down the drain.

A smart PMS can help you track what’s in the stock cupboard, monitor batch numbers and flag when products are nearing their expiry date. Systems with scanning functionality can also help you keep track of specific products – whether they’re in the practice or a vet’s boot!  Using these smart tools means you can run a leaner practice, rotate stock, make informed decisions about future orders and protect your bottom line.

4. Dealing with debt

While the pandemic saw a huge increase in companion animal ownership, the subsequent cost of living crisis has seen customers struggle to keep vet visits and prescriptions up to date – sadly, that means closely monitoring and managing debt has never been more important. Interactive debt management functionality in your PMS can give you a full financial picture at the click of a button. Tools like this help you track debtors, create templates to help chase money owed and clearly communicates any red flags to everyone in the practice that might need to be aware of a potential issue.

5. Manage vets’ time

Your PMS offers rich data to help you effectively manage your team’s time. For example, checking on waiting times can flag vets struggling with overload, while using PMS scheduling tools can help more junior vets gain experience across your customer profile. This extends to customers too – integrating with third party apps (across an API) helps practices manage reminders for booked appointments as well as nudging customers to book in for regular health checks and vaccinations. This level of online self-service builds positive associations for time-poor customers as well as freeing up reception teams, all of which adds to your practice’s efficiency.

 

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