Best Practices for Veterinary Practice Management

Learn the best practices of veterinary practice management in this free ebook!

You’ll learn:

  • Get actionable insights on great veterinary practice management.
  • Learn the best ways to reduce no-show appointments.
  • Find the best time management tips for veterinary practice management.
  • Discover the best practices for improving your client experience.
  • See the most negatively impactful mistakes of practice management and how to avoid them.
  • Get helpful insights for driving veterinary profitability and more!

Excerpt

Introduction

Did you know that about 70% of homes in the US have pets? This means approximately 90.5 million families and 210 million people live in a household with animals.

The rise in pet owners’ numbers means more business for veterinary practices. However, dealing with many clients and patients can pose various challenges. Practice managers may find it tricky to meet the needs of all pet owners.

It may also be hard to keep up with various industry trends. These include new treatment methods, technology, marketing techniques, and customer acquisition.

Managing such issues and ensuring that your practice offers high-quality services can be time-consuming. It may also require more money, increasing overhead costs and reducing the profit margin.

Fortunately, managers can apply different methods to ensure proper control and high-quality services. This ebook will explore the best practices for veterinary practice management. It will also discuss how these measures can help you maintain more pet owners and keep your employees happy.

Chapter 1: Manage Your Finances

The lack of proper financial management is a significant issue in most vet practices. Without the right plan, you may invest in ventures that don’t generate enough revenue. For example, you may get expensive imaging equipment requiring excessive maintenance, and it’ll take longer to recover the money spent.

Implementing the proper financial management strategies can help you avoid such problems. Here are a few tips that you can leverage.

Budget and Track Finances

Do you find it hard to account for all funds spent in your vet practice? It is challenging to determine how much money the clinic makes within a specific period? If yes, it is time to budget and monitor how you use funds.

First, determine how much income the clinic generates each day, week, and month. You can get this information from your billing or accounting software.

After that, calculate the average annual revenue. If you receive donations from organizations like animal shelters, activist groups, and your clients, you may include them as part of the available funds.

Project your expenses once you assess how much money the practice earns and receives from other sources in a year. The items that you can include are:

  • Medical supplies
  • Equipment purchase
  • Equipment maintenance
  • Salaries and wages
  • Utility bills like water and electricity

When calculating expenses, you should include those related to patient care, including data processing, printing, and maintaining health records.

Another item to add to the list is the cost of buying vet practice management software. Include fees for solutions with a subscription-based payment model.

After you determine all expected costs, compare them against the projected income. This way, you can assess how much profit the practice is likely to make in a year. You may then identify ways to increase the profit margin, such as lowering a few expenses without affecting the quality of services.

Budgeting for your vet practice has many benefits. First, it allows you to identify shortages and develop ways to boost income. Second, you can use the budget to do regular audits and see if you are working within the proper limits.

Avoid Debt

Debts can complicate financial management in a vet practice. They can reduce your annual revenue, depending on the charged interest rate, and you also need to budget a specific amount for repaying the borrowed amount.

While buying equipment on loan and borrowing funds can help you grow your clinic, such practices can also affect growth. You will need alternative income sources to clear the debt without enough revenue.

Failure to do this can reduce credit scores and in some cases, cause business closure. Some financiers may also auction your equipment to recover their money.

Avoid debt by relying on your practices’ revenue as the primary source of finances. If the business is not doing well, seek donations and devise other methods to make money. Examples include selling customized pet tote bags and having premium treatment plans.

If you must borrow a loan, it’s best to invest it in a venture that will bring in more money. For example, buy imaging equipment to improve service delivery and attract pet owners to your clinic. Alternatively, use the funds for a marketing campaign to generate more leads and boost conversion rates.

Get Affordable Software

Adopting digital solutions makes work easier and streamlines management. With vet practice software, you can easily manage images taken during a diagnosis and collaborate with other vets. Such tools also enable you to back up your files and secure them for an extended period.

While digital solutions help, they may increase costs if you are not careful. Before partnering with a provider, determine how much they charge for their software, and inquire about other undisclosed costs, like subscribing to advanced features.

Once you identify the buying costs, look at the software’s maintenance needs. How often do you need to update the app? Does the provider require you to pay for upgrades? If the solutions need specific hardware, how regularly do you need to service it?

Answering these questions will help you assess the long-term cost of each software. You may then select a solution that won’t lead to significant expenses.

A vet practice may have multiple departments, depending on its size. Clinics with many branches or clients often need more employees to manage the workload and treat patients. When looking for vet practice solutions, prioritize those with more management features.

For example, if you need accounting software, get one that supports reporting and data security. The tool should also enable integration with your invoicing and billing solution. If you need imaging software, get one featuring an integrated DICOM viewer and off-site archival.

Buying software with many features allows you to reduce costs. It also simplifies management because employees will need fewer tools to complete their work. 

Chapter 2: Invest in Updated Technology

Running a vet practice without technology is a nightmare. You may need more employees to check in with your pet patients and bill their owners after treatment. Attending to one patient might take a long time based on the diagnosis methods used.

Investing in technology is one of the best practices for veterinary practice management. This move simplifies work and allows you to earn more revenue by serving more patients in a shorter duration.

Get Diagnostic Imaging Solutions

Diagnostic imaging is a significant pillar of vet practice management. This technology enables you to take images of pets using less-invasive devices. You can then use the produced files to examine a patient without printing anything.

Simplify diagnosis and offer timely treatment by investing in imaging solutions. During the search process, look for a tool to streamline image management. The software should also enable you to share files with pet owners.

Image reconstruction is a feature to look for in a diagnostic imaging tool. It enables you to convert 2D images into multiple-plane ones. The feature also simplifies analysis and makes it easier to identify health conditions with fewer tests.

Other aspects to look for in diagnostic imaging software are:

  • Off-site archival
  • Authentication
  • Integration
  • Reporting
  • Image retrieval
  • DICOM and non-DICOM file sharing

Managing many vet practices can be tricky, especially when in different locations. Even with the right tools, diagnosing patients can be slower due to the limited number of radiologists.

Adopt imaging software with collaborative features to ease managing multiple practices. After that, hire several technicians to conduct tests and share the files with the available radiologists. This move will help lower the cost of processing images and mailing them.

It also simplifies patient management by reducing diagnosis delays. Another benefit of an imaging tool that supports teleconsultation is it strengthens your team and gives them access to veterinary specialists.

Get Veterinary Practice Management Software

Vet practice management software helps you deal with everyday clinic activities. For example, it simplifies checking in patients by avoiding hard copy files. It also enables you to capture patients’ details and use the data for critical decisions.

As a practice manager, you must get a solution that matches the size and needs of your practice. Determine the best software by conducting a survey based on service delivery. To start, assess how much time a patient needs for their appointment. After that, identify the time-consuming processes and get software solutions to shorten them.

The next step in the search is consulting your team to identify complex and tiresome procedures. Using the provided feedback, determine if you can ease work by adopting efficient practice software.

While conducting such surveys may help you pick the right tools, it can still be challenging if you don’t have enough IT knowledge. Consult industry experts to determine the key features that you need in management software.

Things that they might suggest include:

  • Appointment booking
  • Soap notes
  • Reporting
  • Secure chat systems
  • Online patient portals
  • Integration with electronic health records software
  • Insurance verification

An appointment reminder is a critical feature that experts may recommend in veterinary practice management solutions. It can help you reduce no-shows and prevent time and resources wastage.

Sometimes, it may be tricky to get a solution that includes all your required features. Prioritize what you need based on the main challenges in your practice. You can then use this information to identify a tool offering the most desirable aspects.

Adopting the proper vet practice software will centralize operations. It also facilitates communication with pet owners, helping you build long-lasting relationships. Another benefit of these tools is securing data and ensuring compliance with various regulations.

Chapter 3: Keep Clients Happy

According to research, about nine in every fifteen dissatisfied clients tell others about their experience. However, only 4% of those unhappy with your services will provide feedback.

A significant number of dissatisfied pet owners can affect management in many ways. First, your employees will spend more time addressing concerns and calming agitated clients. You will also need alternative methods to attract more people to the veterinary practice.

Read on for essential and unique strategies to keep pet owners happy with the offered services.

Hire Friendly Staff

Employees reflect a vet practice’s beliefs, values, and mission. If you don’t have the best team, you may lose clients to other clinics. You will also spend a great deal of money conducting surveys to determine the primary issues.

Before adding an employee to your team, use various methods to determine suitability. For example, conduct a comprehensive interview to assess how they interact with other people. Ask questions about their previous work to gauge if they maintain good work relationships.

Since you may not be able to gather all the information that you need directly from the candidates, use alternative means to learn more about them. One ideal strategy is contacting their references to inquire about the candidates’ interpersonal skills.

Questions that you can ask include:

  • Did pet owners like the services that the candidate offered?
  • Were there any complaints about their work ethics?
  • How did the candidate approach work-related conflicts?
  • Was the candidate patient with clients?

Getting answers to such questions from someone who worked with a prospective employee simplifies narrowing your choices. It also allows you to learn the candidates’ strengths and determine if they will be helpful in your vet practice.

A thorough recruitment process will help you get efficient employees. Still, it’s vital to follow up regularly to determine how new hires get along with your current team.

Also, ask pet owners to fill out feedback forms anonymously and rate employees who serve them. They can leave general feedback and/or recommend necessary improvements.

Don’t Keep Clients Waiting

Many pet owners squeeze their schedules to bring their animals to your vet clinic. If they don’t complete the appointment within the expected time, they must postpone other activities.

Unfortunately, clients are likely to leave your practice and opt for other facilities in your area if you keep them waiting. They may also provide negative reviews, scaring away other people interested in your services.

Improve time management in your practice by using fast and reliable systems. These will reduce the time needed for billing, writing invoices, and diagnosing patients. Efficient systems also simplify check-in and checkouts, which will improve pet owners’ satisfaction.

Double-booking is a critical issue that leads to time wastage in many veterinary clinics. This problem occurs when your employees schedule multiple patients to see one vet simultaneously.

When you double-book, you may have to postpone one appointment. However, if the patient has an emergency, some employees will need to work overtime and attend to all pets scheduled for that day.

Get online appointment booking software to prevent such issues and keep your clients happy. Such software will notify pet owners of the available slots to help them select a suitable one based on their schedule. You can also create a separate category for emergencies, allowing clients to bring in their animals within the shortest duration possible.

Tracing patients’ medical records can be time-consuming without proper organization. This issue may also cause appointments to last longer than predicted, frustrating clients.

Before leaving your clinic, prepare for the next day’s appointments by ensuring that all files are easily accessible. Alternatively, report to work an hour or two before the first session to assemble all needed items.

Respond to Concerns

Your clients may have questions about their pets’ health, which don’t necessarily need booking an appointment. For example, some may need information about suitable diets and signs of food allergies. Others may require advice about controlling specific behavior like aggression or anxiety.

It’s crucial to respond to all inquiries from your clients for better satisfaction. Use chatbots to answer frequently asked questions.

Designate several customer care representatives if you have many practices or serve a large area. Such employees will provide detailed and specific answers to all questions and concerns. They may also help you identify the information that you need to clarify about the vet clinic or services offered.

Other benefits of customer care representatives in a veterinary practice include:

  • Improved client loyalty
  • Better publicity
  • Higher operation efficiency
  • Simplified client management
  • Lower churn rates
  • Higher revenue generation

Pet owners often require an expert’s advice during medical emergencies. For example, when a dog suffers a leg injury, the owner may need help offering first aid before bringing in the pet for treatment. Having emergency numbers enables you to provide your clients with reliable support.

Include such contacts on your website for easier access. Write them on the merchandise that you give or sell and other documents, like brochures and newsletters. You should also ensure that you have an employee ready to promptly respond to such calls.

Chapter 4: Educate Pet Owners

Pet owners can make mistakes that affect their animal’s health due to the lack of knowledge. For example, they may feed them toxic food and drinks, causing digestion problems. Others may give the pets unprepared or unsanitary foods, leading to infections.

Unfortunately, patients may overwhelm your team during outbreaks if your clients don’t know how to care for their animals. Lack of information also increases inquiries and reduces the time available for service delivery.

Here are various strategies to educate pet owners and prevent health issues.

Upload Content on Your Website

Websites are cost-friendly tools to educate pet owners and improve practice management. Research to determine the topics that your clients may find informational and helpful.

Then, write detailed and engaging blogs to provide the needed information. You can add a search bar on the website to help visitors quickly find posts.

Since not all pet owners will visit your site frequently, though, notify them whenever you upload content. The message should include a direct link and a brief description of the discussed topic. This practice will increase page engagement and collaboration and show your clients that you care.

As you create content for your veterinary practice website, target a large audience, not just your clients. Optimize the post for search engines by including keywords and phrases — geo-target them with location-specific words. You may also optimize the pages for local searches in search engines like Google.

Other search engine optimization tips that you can use include:

  • Reduce website load time.
  • Upload content consistently.
  • Link back to reputable sites.
  • Use informational meta descriptions.

Ensuring that your content reaches a larger audience can effectively establish your practice as a reputable company in the veterinary field. It also increases awareness about your services with less effort. These aspects will ultimately make it easier to manage marketing and lead generation.

Since keeping your website active and researching the best topics can consume time, consider outsourcing these services.

Contact marketing companies to determine how much they charge. After that, find one offering quality services within your budget, and schedule when to create and upload content based on your goals.

Leverage Newsletters

One way to educate pet owners and your target market is through newsletters. Set up a suitable schedule for creating these, preferably once or twice a month. Select the items that you want to cover over a specific duration.

Topics that you can explore include:

  • Care standards
  • Hygiene and grooming
  • Training tools and methods
  • Food toxicities
  • Pet products
  • Socialization tips

Another topic that you can discuss in newsletters is managing health issues. You can provide more information on common conditions among your pet patients.

Have special editions during outbreaks to notify pet owners of the signs to look out for and what to do if their animals have particular symptoms. The documents can also include prevention tips and ways to protect other animals from contracting the condition if it is contagious.

Email is the most effective way to share newsletters with your clients. However, you may still want to upload the PDF versions on your website to give other interested parties easy access to the information.

Issue Pamphlets

While handing out pamphlets is a traditional way to advertise or pass information, it’s still quite effective. Create leaflets with basic but detailed information about specific topics. Use short sentences for explanations or bullets to make it more interesting.

You may also include visuals with fun facts, statistics, or other critical information that you want to pass across. More tips on creating a veterinary practice pamphlet include:

  • Avoid jargon and complex language.
  • Use images of your veterinary clinic.
  • Include contact details at the bottom.
  • Use eye-friendly font sizes and styles.
  • Use captivating headlines.

Once you complete designing the pamphlets, print them and place them in strategic areas. For example, put some at the doorway for pet owners to pick when entering the facility. Place a few in the waiting room to educate your clients and keep them busy before their appointments.

Another strategic area to place the leaflets is in the vets’ full clinics. This will allow the experts to provide clients with a reference when discussing various topics. Vets can also issue specific pamphlets to pet owners after diagnosing their animals.

Conduct Seminar and Webinars

Seminars and webinars are suitable ways to educate pet owners who visit your veterinary practice. You can include other interested parties by sharing joining links on your social media pages.

Select the most appropriate topics to discuss in the workshop, and research extensively. Then, create a detailed presentation, breaking the matter into several subtopics. Experiment with various content formats, such as word documents, slideshows, and videos.

Once you have the needed information, compile it and set a date for the workshop. Ideally, select mid-morning or early afternoon hours on weekends to ensure that you reach a large audience.

Conducting seminars and webinars can positively impact vet practice management. First, it allows your audience to recognize you as a reliable source of information. This aspect can prompt attendees who are not your clients to enroll pets in your programs.

Marketing a vet practice is currently challenging because there are many service providers. If prospective customers find you too aggressive, they may avoid your clinic. On the other hand, if you don’t use the right strategies, you may lose your current market to competitors.

Seminars and webinars are effective ways to market your services without being overly promotional. Such workshops provide value to the audience while informing them about your services. Leveraging these marketing and educational methods ultimately generates credible leads.

This aspect will reduce pressure on your marketing team and help you generate more revenue. Another benefit of the workshops is that they position you as an expert, increasing the number of referrals and recommendations.

Simplify Veterinary Practice Management with Asteris

Handling operations in a veterinary clinic can be tricky without the proper methods and tools. Implementing these best practices for veterinary practice management will solve critical problems.

The measures will also reduce costs, enable you to monitor spending, and keep your clients happy. Proper practice management will eventually deliver results by increasing your market size.

The Asteris team understands that imaging is vital in diagnosis and treatment. They have comprehensive software to help you manage and secure images. The solution also enables you to simplify work for veterinarians through teleconsultation and off-site access to files.

Asteris Keystone has advanced image reconstruction features to speed up service delivery. It also improves diagnosis accuracy and saves your clinic from legal battles.

Here at Asteris, it’s our goal to help veterinarians make sound medical decisions with ease, clarity, and confidence by giving them the tools and insights that they need to optimize the way they work.
If you’re ready to stop feeling like there’s not enough time in your day, we can help you optimize your imaging processes and the way you work. Contact our specialists today to get started!