Reduce Platform Friction and Streamline Pet Owner Communications

When we bought our first practice, the selling doctor offered us some advice: Clients can't always identify a great suture pattern, but they definitely know if the front desk was nice to them.

Many clients grade our practices on how well we communicate with them, and that goes for everything from the speed of booking an appointment to how easily they can get results or access records. Sometimes, though, it feels like veterinary technology has forgotten this important lesson.

The Problems Disparate Tech Can Cause

Most practices have a group of different systems for pet owner communication, including phones, email, text gateways, and a client portal. In a 2021 user experience study, the average practice reported using 8.3 applications in addition to their PIMS.1 Managing this many veterinary apps is challenging in and of itself, but to make matters worse, 85% of practices reported that poor integrations are compromising their workflows, with 87% seeing an opportunity to increase practice efficiency, according to IDEXX's Finding the Time study.

This certainly happened in my practices over the years. As technology developed and evolved, we adopted a myriad of systems to fulfill different communication requirements, and it became a mess. With each bit of veterinary technology sitting in its own silo, manual steps were needed to keep things in sync with the PIMS, and that led to errors and duplication.

Regularly, my team had to:

  • Manually transfer email addresses or phone numbers out of the PIMS and into our text or email gateways, where an error can mean the client not getting the communication or, worse, information being sent to someone else by mistake.
  • Copy conversations out of those gateways and back into the client record. We've seen this create incomplete or disjointed conversations, with some sections duplicated many times and others lost completely.
  • Collate and print or email client records to specialists or boarding facilities—a time-consuming process for team members and a frustration for clients.
  • Call and discuss lab results with one pet parent only to need to provide the same information again to a spouse or partner when the message gets confused.

With each extra step, your team loses valuable time, and any errors can cause clients' trust in your practice to suffer a little. These are two things every practice should be keen to minimize. The good news is an integrated communication platform could help you do so.

Consolidating Workflows and Enhancing Communications

While the idea of a joined-up system handling client communications isn't new (for example, consider call centers, where your record is available to the operator based on your incoming phone number), the veterinary technology space has lagged in the past. Now, that's starting to change, and a modern integrated platform can help your practice save time and money while making clients happier.

If you're thinking of taking the plunge, here are a few features to consider:

  • Two-way SMS integration, so you can text clients directly from your PIMS and capture their responses.
  • Direct booking gateway, allowing clients to find the time that fits their schedule while saving your team time on the phone.
  • A reminder system that integrates mail, text, email, and more with direct links back to your booking gateway to make it easy for clients to schedule appointments.
  • Pre-visit information that can be sent automatically to your clients, which can help collect all the information you need and send automatic reminders to clients to reduce no-shows.
  • Access to patent records and results, allowing your clients to share them with other practices, boarding facilities, and family members.
  • Post-visit follow-up information that can be tailored to your patients with a record in the PIMS of what was sent, which can help increase treatment compliance.

While there's no substitute for a good bedside manner or great customer service training, we can make it easier on our teams by letting our systems take on some of the routine work. This can enable them to focus on building personal relationships that will keep clients coming back and encourage them to do the best for their pets.


  1. Today's Veterinary Practice, IDEXX UX Research, March 2021.

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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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