How to Maintain Your Practice's PIMS

Your practice management software is the brain of your business, storing everything from medical records to pricing in one centralized place. While there are different types of software, they all have one thing in common: They provide data that helps you make decisions about how to better run your practice. A little data maintenance goes a long way in ensuring you have the most up-to-date information when making decisions.

Digging around inside your system might seem like a daunting task, but knowing which key areas to review makes the process easier and more efficient.

Schedule Maintenance

Maintaining your PIMS is an ongoing process. Get into the habit of reviewing your patient records, prices, and products every month or quarter. Quickly resolving issues with this information streamlines reporting, improves margins, and drives protocol improvements. Remember: Bad data builds up, and the longer you leave it, the harder it is to fix.

It's also a good idea to conduct a full annual audit to give yourself a clean starting point. Set aside a few days at the end of each year to examine your data and update your system accordingly.

Know Your Patients

Patients are the lifeblood of our practices, so we must maintain relationships to provide the best care. No one wants to waste time and money reaching out to clients who have moved on, but we also don't want to give up on them too soon. So every quarter, reach out to active clients you haven't heard from in 18 months — you'll be amazed by how many come back. Then deactivate those who don't. This also gives you a chance to update contact data — it's hard to build a relationship with someone you can't reach.

If your PIMS stores your medical records, complete them in a timely fashion and then mark them as closed in the system. Make sure you have all the patient information on hand the next time you see them.

Get Paid Fairly

To be both profitable and fair to clients, you should perform regular price audits:

  • Have a documented pricing strategy. Perform a full annual review of prices and quarterly checks of popular and profitable items. Focus on these key items; they have a disproportionate impact on your practice.
  • Install automatic pricing updates. Set a markup on inventory items so the price fluctuates alongside manufacturer costs. Review automatically priced products to see if their cost is still competitive.
  • Input pricing data. Stay up to date with average service rates in your area and the cost of online products. Focus on getting data for what clients can easily compare, such as exams, routine surgeries, dental work, and maintenance drugs. Your system will alert you if one of your prices becomes out of line with client expectations.
  • Know your worth. Clients place value on a comfortable environment, good location, and trusted provider, which should be reflected in your prices.
  • Remove unprofitable items. If margins become too thin or prices so high that you can't sell the product, it may be time to remove it. Report the data to your medical team, so you can work together to streamline your offerings.
  • Check for pending transactions. Look for services that were performed but not invoiced, which usually pop up because they were added after the invoice was created.

Update Your Products and Services

Products come and go, new treatment options arrive, and old revenue streams disappear. Leaving out-of-date service items in the system means they might be used accidentally, creating more work to manage them. As you conduct a code audit, consider the following:

  • Does this represent our practice's operations? Consider removing items that are never used.
  • Have we changed our protocols? Update your groups and reminders so that clients are informed and advised when protocols change. For example, you may have added a vaccine to your routine recommendations.
  • Are we taking advantage of lab deals? Removing similar tests that don't have pricing breaks ensures that both the practice and client get the best value.
  • Do we have duplicate items? If you sell every type of preventive medication, you're likely juggling expired products and struggling to keep inventory accurate. Only include duplicates where medically necessary.

Minimizing the number of items in your system makes reviewing pricing easier and reduces errors and confusion for clients. The data you collect may also identify variations in how team members approach issues. Use this to discuss new ideas, ensuring that your medical protocols are up to date and applied consistently.

Troubleshooting Tips

Don't know where to start? Here are some final tips to get you going:

  • Check your backup. You should also know how to restore it if needed.
  • Break it up. A full audit is a lot — consider working by product or service type or category to make it less daunting.
  • Document your approach. If you know what changes to make and how to validate them, it's a lot less stressful.
  • Clear your calendar. Auditing is a critical task, so make it a priority to get the best results.

You need to understand all aspects of your business to provide the best patient care. Maintaining your PIMS gives you better visibility into what works and what doesn't, helping you to implement changes that will make your practice more effective.

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Des Whittall
Practice Manager

Des Whittall is an owner and manager of two veterinary clinics and pet resorts in Texas. A software engineer by training, he worked with an investment bank for 13 years in roles ranging from technical support to business divestment, managing large international teams and complex vendor relationships. With his partner, he has grown the clinics and resorts and is focused on developing businesses that can provide high-quality medicine and development opportunities for their teams.

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