By: Debbie Boone, BS, CVPM – Originally published on Weave.
In the same way pennies make dollars, minutes make hours. Every practice I speak with is looking for some type of employee. We know there is a shortage of veterinarians. Licensed technicians stay in the field on average 5 years. Client service representatives are always challenging to find and with the increased abuse COVID crazed clients are pouring on them it is an even more difficult position to fill and maintain. The phones are ringing off the hook, we are running outside to retrieve our patients and we can’t see our clients face to face.
Technology to the rescue!
As surprising as it is, there are still hospitals using paper medical charts. I once calculated the cost of filing records in a 4-doctor practice where they paid a person to just pull and file charts. Eight hours a day, 5 days a week at $10.00 per hour x 52 weeks = $20,800 in labor costs alone. This did not account for the hours looking for misplaced records, the time spent faxing records to specialists or other vets and the inefficiency of having to wait for one person to finish with a record before another person can access them. If you are still concerned that digital records will not be accessible if the internet goes down – cloud-based programs solve your problem. You can still see them on any mobile devise. Nor do you have to scan every paper chart to your software if you have been using your computer as a glorified cash register. You have 90% of the information available to you in the invoice history. Scan in the major cases and have the records available for a year or two. You will be shocked at how little you need to find one.
Now let us talk about the phones. There are two very cool new tech tools that can help with clogged phone lines and make your CSRs more efficient.
- Weave phone system allows you to have unlimited phone lines (very helpful for the curbside clog), use the app on your personal cell phone as an alternate to your business line without clients now accessing your phone number. Use it no matter where you are. It records EVERY CALL coming into your hospital so verbal authorization of care is now indisputable and customer service training can be polished by listening to actual calls. Texting through the app reduces time on the phones and those curbside clients can even pay through the phone. Integration with your software means no more pulling up the wrong client record as Weave pulls up the client who is calling and places their information on your computer screen.
- Many of the calls coming into the office are for routine care. What if we used an appointment scheduling app like Vetstoria to allow clients to schedule their own appointments? Practices can set aside the time slots they want to allow clients to use and set the allocated amount of time for various appointment types. For years I have preached using differential appointment times and utilizing tech exams. This is easy to set up in this app and clients are demanding this service.
- Payments are another area of time savings and touchless payments in days of COVID 19 are even better. Systems like PayJunction store cards securely so no waiting for clients to fumble around to find, insert and authorize credit card transactions.
Another common practice time suck is record sharing. Instead of faxing vaccine history to boarding kennels, groomers, specialists and ERs we can utilize an app like VitusVet that allows clients to carry their pets medical history with them on their phone. Much like a human medical portal, important diagnostics, reactions and vaccination status is always available. The app also texts and emails reminders for services, allows text messages and has a payment option.
Using apps and devices can expand our doctors’ and techs’ time in the exam room and in the treatment area of practice.
- The new digital thermometer from Mella is the world’s first smart pet thermometer that can reliably read axillary temperatures and send data right to your PiMS. It comes with 3 heads for axillary, ear, and rectal temp taking. No more watching your patients “tuck tail” or your clients squirm with discomfort. Great for Fear Free practices too. And most importantly – it is FAST.
- Patient monitoring in post-op or treatment is a big time obligation for the nursing staff. A devise as simple as the VetMeasure harness can measure Temperature, Heart Rate, Respiratory Rate, Activity Level, ECG and do it all over Wi-Fi. Set your parameters and if anything is abnormal you get an instant alert on your phone or device. What a great idea for patient post-op monitoring. Consider also how difficult it is to get TPRs on fractious animals. Putting this on under sedation, monitoring, and then having the owner remove it keeps us out of harm’s way. Similar to this, the VetGuardian point and shoot device allows monitoring of pulse, respiration, and (soon to come) core temperature by merely aiming the device at the patient. It works on canaries to elephants.
- Telemedicine or Teletriage keeps our clients safely out of the office and us still able to have face to face discussions. The average telemedicine “exam” takes about 8 minutes of doctor time. Scheduling them every 15 minutes and dedicating a doctor to the calls is a very efficient way to see a lot of patients – fast. Stats show about 65 – 70% of televisits still need to come to the office. But how great that you can remove 30% of the pressure on the team while still satisfying the needs of the pet and getting paid to do so. With so many options and the number growing daily my best advice is to visit Facebook’s Veterinary Telemedicine Community and look at the vendors. Choosing the level of service you want and that is allowed by your state will be necessary in your decision making.
- The downfall of many veterinarians plans to leave work on time is finishing medical chart notes. At the end of a busy day the piles (paper or digital) remain to be written. The average person types at 40 words per minute. But what if a tool like Talkatoo could type for you at 200 words per minute as you dictate your medical chart notes? I did the trial and was impressed. Think of turning on Talkatoo as you examine a pet and just speaking your findings? A big time saver!
It is universally agreed that Pet Insurance is good for pets, pet owners and veterinary hospitals but we do not have time to be insurance salespeople. Fortunately, Pawlicy Advisors has taken the pressure away by allowing veterinary practices to use their FREE service. All you do is sign up and Pawlicy reaches out to your clients pre-appointment to see if they have pet insurance and if not, they offer a free quote. They use analytics about the pet, including age, breed, preexisting conditions and then instantly research multiple pet insurance providers to find the pet owner the best policy and deal for their specific pet. By analyzing initial monthly costs, long-term rates, eligible discounts, and breed risks, they can save your clients up to 83% on their coverage costs and immediately get the pet insured…before the visit to your practice.
Technology is moving rapidly in all areas of our lives. Trying to keep up is certainly tough but using just a few of the new tools available to us can still streamline our operation. Time is precious. Leveraging staff to create relationship-building experiences for the clients rather than wasting time performing tasks that a tech tool can do, and often do better, certainly seems to be a very wise business move.
If you have questions, need connections to these companies or need consulting services for your hospital please reach out.