Leverage Your Vet Techs in Your Workflow Design

When it comes to your workflow, do you think about how all of your team members contribute to the overall function of your practice? How can you work with your team to create a more efficient workplace? There might be an untapped resource at your disposal: your veterinary technicians.

Changing Up Your Veterinary Practice Workflow

Sometimes we need to redesign our workflow due to inefficiencies, staffing changes, or other problems—or the workflow might just be out of date and could warrant a fresh examination to ensure that your practice is functioning as it should. As the practice leader, it can often feel like this task falls solely on your shoulders.

But, you don't need to figure everything out on your own. A practice manager who includes the input and advice of the team in the decision-making process gives value to their opinions and lays the groundwork for a strong and open culture of teamwork. While practice managers often create policies for how the practice is run, you may not be an expert in every department. For example, you might not be an efficient customer service representative. Team members are usually the experts in their areas since they are responsible for the day-to-day tasks that need to be managed.

Utilize Your Vet Techs' Expertise

There is a unique position in each veterinary practice that is nearly always a "jack of all trades": the veterinary technician. These team members often excel in multiple areas of the practice and are cross-trained for that purpose. For that reason, vet techs are often the go-to people for most support staff. They can help receptionists and assistants, perform technical skills, have a wealth of knowledge, and are the reliable right hand to veterinarians. In many practices, the vet techs run the floor in the treatment room, keeping things moving and providing direction and support to other departments while also completing their technical work. This makes vet techs the perfect resource to assess and update the efficiency or flow of a practice. After all, they're often the ones directing it.

Create a Special Team

To avoid stagnancy, consider creating an "efficiency and flow" team that meets at least once quarterly. Don't worry if you don't necessarily have time to spearhead and micromanage this process—that's why you're creating this team!

As with any project, the goal should be crystal clear from the start. This means establishing what the finished, successful project will look like, so everyone is on the same page. You should be able to apply this process to multiple areas, workflows, or tasks within the practice. This process might include:

  1. Establish an "Efficiency Team" consisting of multiple contributing members, including:
    1. The practice manager
    2. Vet techs
    3. A full-time DVM
  2. This team will meet twice a quarter to discuss an area of flow, such as the check-in process or bringing a pet owner into an exam room, to determine:
    1. Current effectiveness
    2. Possible hang-ups or problem spots
    3. Areas of improvement
    4. Training needed for any new technology
  3. The team will submit a rewritten protocol of flow to the practice manager who will schedule training and/or discussion with the full team, followed by a date set for implementation.
  4. The team will then reassess the changes at their next meeting or sooner if something is causing substantial issues, and determine whether further changes are necessary, or if they can begin to assess another area/protocol for improvement.

Following this pattern will create a tangible and easy way to assess and update areas of the practice that many practice managers don't may not be aware of due to time constraints—unless there is a noticeable problem. This can help identify areas that are becoming an issue before they are full-blown problems, and at the same time keep the practice improving. One of the biggest benefits of this is showing your vet techs (and other team members) how much you trust and value their input. With their help, your practice can continue evolving and improving for your business and your clients.

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Meg Oliver

Meg Oliver is a Certified Veterinary Practice Manager in New York with over 26 years experience in veterinary medicine. She manages a four doctor practice and writes for several veterinary publications. In her free time, she enjoys time with her husband, daughter and twin boys.

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