The following article was provided by GlobalVetLINK.
Improving service to clients while keeping costs down is a constant challenge. Today more than ever, veterinarians are turning to innovative technological solutions to achieve both objectives.
From software services to mobile devices, new tools to replace less time-efficient systems such as handwritten certificates, multiple data entry points and slow communication via fax or snail mail are at a veterinarian’s disposal. These new tools are helping veterinarians serve clients more quickly and effectively—reducing labor costs, increasing client satisfaction and even enhancing the work-life balance of animal health professionals.
Robert Magnus, DVM, founder and president of Wisconsin Equine Clinic & Hospital in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, is among the veterinarians who is relying on the latest technology to improve operation efficiency.
“We needed to find a way to keep our costs down, improve our service to our clients and meet their expectations," Magnus stated. “Implementing technological solutions allows us to focus first on the best interests of our clinic's equine patients while giving fast, accurate treatment of the animals.”
With 12 full-time veterinarians and 20 support staff members, he said any efficiencies realized in terms of labor hours can result in significant cost savings for his business.
The Doctor's Digital Toolbox
An innovator, Magnus jumped on the digital solutions bandwagon and hasn’t look back. He says the digital software platform he uses (GlobalVetLINK) allows animal health professionals and clients to quickly and accurately access, analyze, create and submit animal health data and documentation.
“It offers convenience and flexibility to animal owners and greater efficiency for vets,” he said.
Magnus’ digital software program of choice gives clients access to Coggins of health certificates online at any time, from anywhere. Because animal health documentation can be accessed via an online portal, Magnus noted that owners don't have to worry if they lose a Coggins or health certificate while they are on the road.
While Magnus once used a handwritten system that included hand-drawn sketches of the animal—which he calls both time consuming and a potential source of confusion, his new digital system includes digital photos of the specific animal on the Coggins.
“An electronic Coggins with digital photography ensures that the information matches the animal,” he stated. “From an administrative perspective, my labor costs have decreased because this new technology is saving the clinic time.”
Magnus recently started digital archiving images. He stressed that direct links to images, X-rays, MRIs and ultrasounds that can be accessed from anywhere are extremely helpful in sharing accurate information, which is in the best interest of the animal and client. This access is especially important for those transporting or traveling with animals who might not have ready access to their home clinic.
Veterinary practice management software, such as HVMS Business Infusions, further streamlines Magnus' operations. In fact, he said it's probably his most valuable technological tool. Automated functions reduce administrative labor hours, allow for more accurate billing, facilitate efficient account processing and streamline inventory management. This flexible, scalable platform can be adapted to all disciplines and breeds.
“Solutions like this improve processes for the clinic and enhance service to clients by eliminating confusion through clear billing and automated communication,” he stated. “The end result is more satisfied customers.”
Magnus is a big proponent of payment options that allow a veterinary practice to get paid faster and easier. He recommends mobile credit card services available using smart phone card readers. The credit card readers are particularly helpful to animal health practitioners who operate most often or entirely out in the field. These professionals can get paid instantly—immediately following services performed—without any paperwork or wait time between billing and receiving payment.
Regardless of the software or technology, Magnus said, having an interface on a smart phone or tablet allows greater flexibility and accessibility.
Integrated Solutions Increase Accuracy, Efficiency
Magnus pointed that out choosing software solutions that integrate with one another can result in additional time and money-saving efficiencies. First, eliminating the need for multiple data entry points reduces labor hours and saves money. Additionally, integration results in greater accuracy for billing, animal health records and inventory control.
The HVMS Business Infusions software Magnus uses can be directly linked with treatment plans using a whiteboard, accounting and bookkeeping software, facility maps, laboratory equipment, imaging units, inventory control software and Magnus’ program of choice, GlobalVetLINK. This integration creates a single point of data entry, eliminating redundancies and saving on labor. It also creates a central hub to access accurate clinic, client, and patient information.
Automated Assistance with Regulation
Like all veterinarians, Magnus knows keeping current and complying with the latest government regulations regarding animal transport, feed, antibiotics and travel documents are a must. Noting that compliance can be a time-consuming and at times challenging, Magnus suggested eliminating much of this hassle by choosing a software that can monitor and manage regulations automatically.
"When I was researching technology, I wanted a service that manages regulatory components within its system," Magnus stated. "This value-added service streamlines the process so you don't have a lot of work to do in terms of complying with regulations."
Magnus said his system of choice not only provides a detailed medical history of each animal, but it also allows for messaging among states in the case of a disease outbreak. The technology’s Smart System automates state animal movement regulations.
Magnus added that his clinic will be ahead of the curve should the federal government tighten antibiotic distribution regulations.
“Proposed regulation could make digital tracking solutions imperative for all animal health professionals to be compliant, and our clinic already has that capability,” Magnus states.
Benefits Include Cost Savings, Better Treatment
"We used to spend all day being a vet and most of the evening doing data entry," Magnus stated. "The efficiencies gained through technology create a better work-life balance because they affect how you function throughout the day.
“And clients are more satisfied because you can serve their needs more responsively, more efficiently and more quickly," he added.
As a seasoned veteran in veterinary medicine and president of Wisconsin Equine Clinic & Hospital, Magnus spends less time with animals these days and more time managing his clinic.
"As a manager, these tools allow me to focus more proactively on my business, rather than simply accomplishing necessary daily tasks. This allows me to improve my business tremendously over the long term," Magnus said.
From a client perspective, Magnus underscored the importance of using tools such as GlobalVetLINK to improve care for animals. He recalls several critical cases where fast access to lab work directly influenced how the animal was treated.
"In the past we had to wait for lab results in the mail or via fax," recalled Magnus. "Now, as soon as the lab results are complete, they're available electronically."
He said he also routinely hears about clients on the road to horse shows who would have been delayed without access to a Coggins available on the go from the MyVetLINK owner web portal.
Magnus predicted that the use of paper in the animal health industry will be minimized if not eliminated altogether. He said the focus will be on solutions that connect veterinarians, animal owners, diagnostic labs, industry partners and government officials and improve overall animal wellness in the most accurate, effective and efficient ways possible.
“I’m just glad we incorporated the latest technology, as our clinic is reaping the benefits in many ways,” Magnus summarized.
By T.S. Gantz