What Communication Technology Does a Veterinary Practice Need in 2021?
As in all service industries, meeting the needs of the client is essential to the success of a veterinary practice. To achieve this, it's important to recognize that today's pet parents are more informed and in tune with their pets' needs. They are looking for personalized wellness and medical care for their pets, as well as knowledge and information from their veterinary caregivers.
So, how are veterinary practices supposed to deliver on these time-consuming demands with the ever-increasing details, complexity, and diagnostic capabilities of modern medicine? Communication technology is part of the answer. Indeed, perhaps no part of veterinary practice has been more affected by the technological innovations of the past 25 years than communication, and failures in this regard represent one of the most common challenges in veterinary practice.
Overcoming them only requires a bit of knowledge and guidance. Here's an overview of the main technological innovations in communications platforms and how they are impacting veterinary practices now and in the future.
Advances in Veterinary Client Communications
Your practice's website used to be the most important and essential form of engagement and advertising, followed by a phone call with the client to set an appointment. Now, progressive practices have put more effort into advertising and engagement through social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.
While some practices may still be scheduling appointments via phone or even text messaging, the most progressive practices have clients scheduling their appointments online through software or mobile apps that work with their practice management softtware.
Of course, during the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person, face-to-face communications were replaced by telemedicine/telehealth platforms. Time will tell if these communication platforms will continue their role for veterinarian practices as we get past the pandemic, but most experts believe they will.
How Communication Tech Helps the Bottom Line
The cost of labor is the largest expense in running a veterinary practice, accounting for up to 45% of overhead in some of the most well-managed practices, according to dvm360. The latest innovations in practice management software and veterinary-specific communication apps have reduced the amount of staff time used for manual functions. This allows practices to reduce the cost of labor without reducing the quality of communication with pet parents.
Previously, veterinary staff and doctors needed to manually write down important reminder dates, which would be followed with a phone call from a receptionist to schedule the appointment. Today's practice management software allow for reminders to be automatically set in every patient record, with reminder messages going out to the client via email or text message.
Furthermore, integrating communication with a mobile app means that reminders can be sent directly to the client's mobile phone. These latest advances have also replaced receptionist manual functions, allowing clients to check in, check out, and make payments for services through a kiosk or their mobile phone.
Advances in Veterinary Team Communications
Some communications platform advances are not visible to the pet parent but play an essential role in the quality of care and service provided by their veterinary caretakers. Within progressive veterinary practices, communication among staff members used to happen via intercom, but now it's been replaced by mobile communication apps such as Skype or Slack.
Some of the latest practice management systems even build direct communication into their software. Integration of diagnostic equipment with the latest cloud-based software allows practices to receive and save results all in one place within the medical record. This information can then be sent to the pet parent or transferred to another veterinarian of a different specialty.
The latest avenue of technology in diagnostic testing utilizes AI to assess abnormalities on various tests, such as bloodwork and radiographs, with the ability to send out complete reports of these AI results to clients.
And while these technological advances play a direct role in communication between veterinary caretakers and pet parents, the major outcome is in improving quality of care and information sharing through collaboration.
Innovations to Come
The transfer of information and knowledge from one expert to a future expert has been one of the greater challenges brought about by the COVID pandemic. The veterinary industry was ill-equipped to deal with this issue, but a call to action has been made in advancing technology for distance-learning and virtual reality to play a vital role in veterinary education and continuing education.
When considering all these communication advancements in veterinary practices, it's important to note that there are many different communications solutions from many different companies within the veterinary industry. The decision to incorporate any of these innovations in communication must be based on the needs of the clientele and the culture of the practice, as the misapplication of technology can be more disruptive and counterproductive than not using it at all. With that in mind, make it a point to consult your team members and trusted consultants before committing to and integrating a new communication technology in your practice.