Better Imaging, Better Veterinary Practice Management

See how better imaging workflows lead to better practice management in this free ebook!

You will:

  • Learn more about the impact imaging workflows have on the business of care.
  • Find multiple ways for you to improve your imaging workflows.
  • See unique techniques used to maximize workflow optimization.
  • Learn how to spot the best veterinary PACS for your practice.
  • Discover the role modern vet PACS play in teleradiology.
  • Know which features you should shop for in a solution and more!

Excerpt

Better Imaging, Better Veterinary Practice Management

Introduction

As veterinary imaging has evolved, better imaging and veterinary practice management systems have become enormously valuable. With more veterinarians transitioning their practices to fully digitized systems, the need for optimized veterinary workflows supported by imaging and veterinary practice management solutions has increased exponentially. That’s due to the unique benefits that optimized imaging and veterinary management systems can provide a veterinary practice. These benefits include the ease of communicating with other practitioners, learning new treatments, catching errors, highlighting unseen clinical patterns, and reducing the complexities associated with cumbersome paperwork.

What are trends that have characterized the veterinary practice management space? What are their effects?

Veterinary practice management, a profession that involves the management of business and operations in veterinary practice, plays a key role in the success of your veterinary clinic. Understanding trends in veterinary practice management and how they impact your daily operations is crucial.

One of the major trends that have characterized the veterinary practice management space in the recent past is the increased adoption of cloud-based veterinary management software. With this trend, numerous workflow-related benefits are unlocked. Cloud-based solutions improve a vet practice’s workflow by enabling access to data from anywhere and at any time. Leveraging cloud-based solutions can help your facility offer tailored services and facilitate immediate collaboration with practitioners who aren’t physically present.

Cloud-based veterinary management software also improves veterinary practice workflows by supporting real-time backups. Investing in a cloud-based solution eliminates disruptions associated with data loss. Given the real-time backup feature that’s associated with cloud-based veterinary systems, your practice can focus on other business aspects rather than worrying about data loss in case of technical problems or a disaster.

Other benefits associated with cloud-based veterinary management software that can impact your practice’s workflow include improving collaboration between veterinary practitioners and simplifying scalability that ensures the smooth growth of your enterprise.

Another trend that has characterized the veterinary practice management space is the increased adoption of analytic tools in veterinary practices. Investing in analytic tools helps your veterinary practice improve its workflow in several ways. By implementing data analytic solutions, you can improve workflows by identifying bottlenecks that hinder efficient operations. Specifically, your practice can identify long and redundant processes that increase workflow-related inefficiencies. For instance, when leveraging analytical tools, your practice managers will have an end-to-end view of the processes involved in imaging and veterinary practice management in your facility. They can easily identify processes that can be automated or made paperless. Ultimately, implementing efficiency-improving changes can help your facility improve its workflows and reap the subsequent benefits.

Furthermore, analytical tools can enhance the workflows in your practice by simplifying regulatory compliance. These tools can help practice managers ensure that all the necessary and regulatory steps are followed and reported as required. With numerous regulations and reporting guidelines, it’s easy for your veterinary imaging practice to contravene these guidelines, introducing disruptions that affect your practice’s workflow. However, investing in analytic tools helps your practice managers create audit trials on a need-by-need basis. This improves your facility’s workflow by increasing access to information on your practice’s compliance and simplifying the creation of annual compliance reports.

While cloud-based veterinary management solutions and analytical tools have been game-changers, other trends have also impacted imaging and veterinary practice management and the associated workflow-related benefits. These trends include telemedicine, increased advocacy on sustainability, optimization of digital client experiences, and increased emphasis on the importance of leadership in imaging and veterinary practice management.

What are the challenges that affect veterinary imaging workflow from a veterinary practice management perspective? What are the impacts of resulting poor imaging workflows?

Lack of Reliable Technical Support

Today, more veterinary imaging facilities are shifting toward fully digitized practice management solutions. While such a solution can be a game-changer for your practice, the lack of reliable technical support can limit the benefits. A lack of support can introduce challenges that magnify workflow-related problems in your veterinary imaging practice.

In the event of technology breakdown, your veterinary practice may experience extended service unavailability due to unreliable technical support from your imaging and practice management solution provider. With veterinary practice management solutions being fully digitized, extended disruptions compound workflow challenges because veterinary imaging staff cannot access vital information. For instance, extended disruptions limit communication and collaboration between veterinary imaging practitioners on pet care. Cross-collaboration between veterinary imaging practitioners affects workflows in your facility, and prolonged disruptions can introduce bottlenecks to your facility’s workflow. These affect your practice’s ability to serve customers, affecting client satisfaction and your bottom line.

The lack of reliable technical support also affects the optimization of your veterinary practice management, introducing compliance-related challenges. In particular, prolonged disruptions affect your facility’s ability to maintain high compliance standards. To illustrate, extended breakdowns of veterinary practice management solutions limit your practice manager’s ability to ensure that employees and contractors adhere to local, state, and federal veterinary imaging regulations. This is mainly attributed to the lack of real-time monitoring and clear communication of compliance guidelines in your veterinary practice due to disruptions. Failure to stick to compliance guidelines attracts regular audits in your veterinary imaging practice, introducing disruptions that can adversely affect your facility’s workflow. From a management perspective, these disruptions can affect your practice’s reputation with veterinary imaging regulators and introduce avoidable costs in your business.

Inconsistencies in Image Quality

For veterinary imaging practices, arriving at an accurate diagnosis can be a highly complex process that involves numerous variables and is often error-prone. Since veterinary imaging is a major component of the overall diagnostic process, it can also be a major cause of diagnostic errors. While numerous factors influence diagnostic accuracy, a significant determinant is image quality and the inconsistencies therein. 

With more veterinary imaging facilities shifting to digital radiography—which has been seen as forgiving to poor exposure techniques—producing images with optimal quality hasn’t been universal due to patient positioning errors. Many veterinary imaging practitioners and practices receive images from multiple facilities that are produced using equipment from different manufacturers. The resulting inconsistencies can affect workflows in your veterinary practice in several ways.

Inconsistent image quality caused by imaging errors—like incorrect collimation, wrong exposure, centering and positioning errors, and artifacts—can cause poor imaging workflows by hindering the timely interpretation and communication of diagnostic results. The resulting inefficiencies in imaging workflows can hinder the effective treatment of pets because veterinary practitioners cannot prescribe treatment plans promptly. Studies have shown that harm to pet patients can be prevented when veterinary imaging practitioners communicate unexpected or critical findings in a timely manner. Ultimately, this affects treatment outcomes and levels of client satisfaction within your veterinary imaging practice.

Furthermore, inconsistent image quality also influences workflows by affecting overall image rejects and deletion rates. (Image rejects refer to veterinary images that don’t provide diagnostic information in respect to the relevant clinical study due to low-quality images.) With the digitization of veterinary imaging and increased reliance on systems from different vendors, inconsistencies in image quality due to different protocols can introduce workflow challenges into your veterinary imaging practice. Variations in imaging quality, especially when working with referring veterinary practitioners, can adversely affect your practice’s workflow via complicated diagnostic and follow-up procedures. To clarify, your veterinary imaging practitioners may need to seek additional information when conducting follow-up treatment on a pet patient. Practitioners must seek clarification on a case-by-case basis, so increased instances of image rejects can slow down operations at your practice. This can translate to negative outcomes like increased client dissatisfaction and turnover, reduced staff productivity, and increased veterinary imaging care costs. Eventually, inconsistencies in image quality can cause adverse business outcomes, like reduced competitive edge and declining profits.

Lack of Compatibility with Adopted Solutions
Today, compatibility has become increasingly important in veterinary medicine as the diversity of animal health data has grown and as more pressure has mounted on practice managers and other veterinary professionals to gather timely data for diagnostic and treatment purposes. The shift toward fully digitized veterinary imaging solutions has been essential for increasing the compatibility of animal health data. However, these systems can introduce compatibility challenges that can hinder the effective workflows in your veterinary practices.

For instance, fully digitized veterinary imaging solutions can introduce semantic interoperability challenges in your facility. Semantic interoperability refers to a veterinary system’s ability to share information and have that information interpreted properly by the recipient as intended by the sending practitioner. With variations in the interpretation of shared data, your veterinary imaging facility can experience workflow-related bottlenecks. To be specific, discrepancies in the interpretation of shared data can introduce challenges in collaboration between your staff and other veterinary practitioners. Given that cross-collaboration is a vital and regular process in veterinary imaging, the inability to interpret shared information can affect your facility’s workflow by hindering the continuity of veterinary care across multidisciplinary practitioners, organizations, languages, or timelines. Ultimately, these workflow hindrances can compound veterinary practice management issues, like inefficiencies in operational processes and reduced productivity among your staff.

The lack of interoperability between veterinary imaging solutions can also introduce workflow challenges to a veterinary imaging practice. (In veterinary medicine, interoperability refers to the ability to transfer and integrate patient data across multiple technology solutions). However, the production of veterinary imaging solutions by different vendors introduces variations in data-handling protocols and formats, limiting the sharing of images between veterinary practices. Data- and image-sharing can affect workflows by influencing the speed of diagnostic or follow-up imaging, and interoperability problems can adversely affect the quality of care offered to owners and their pets. For instance, the lack of interoperability between your veterinary imaging systems and those from referring practices may lead to an increase in image rejects, causing delays in the creation of clients’ diagnostic reports. This lowers the productivity of your staff because more time is spent solving imaging technology problems rather than assessing a client’s pet. Over time, glitches in your facility’s workflow can drive up costs via strained information technology teams, underutilized veterinary imaging solutions and staff, and prolonged periods for diagnoses.

Lack of Automated Updates and Backups

Working with veterinary imaging systems can be a game-changer for your facility’s workflows. However, if a solution fails to integrate automated updates and backups, it may spell doom for your business. The absence of automated update and backup systems can introduce system configuration and data-related challenges.

Complex and manual updates of veterinary imaging systems impact care delivery by affecting the effectiveness of different system configurations. The lack of automatic updating capabilities in veterinary imaging can delay the integration of vital changes that can improve this system’s effectiveness. Consequently, veterinary imaging solutions can lead to inefficient operations due to increased downtimes and inaccuracies, affecting your business’s workflow. For example, relying on a veterinary imaging solution that needs manual updates delays the installation of new data-sharing protocols. This may increase inconsistencies in shared images, affecting the accuracy of diagnostic reports produced at your veterinary imaging facility.

Ultimately, this introduces workflow bottlenecks because staff members have to seek clarification—often from practitioners in other facilities—before making a diagnosis. The resulting workflow challenges limit the timely delivery of pet care.

Furthermore, veterinary imaging solutions that rely on manual backup systems can also affect workflows in your veterinary imaging practice. Workflow challenges mainly stem from various scenarios that veterinary practices experience. Manual updates and backup systems are more likely to experience cyberattacks. Delays in installing upgrades often increase the likelihood of an imaging solution experiencing a cyberattack, locking out essential staff from vital patient records. Veterinary practitioners rely on digitized records to offer accurate diagnoses, and the occurrence of a cyberattack in your veterinary practice can erase patient records that aren’t backed up, adversely affecting imaging workflows. Ultimately, this deteriorates the quality of care that your clients get, increasing the likelihood of higher client turnover in your facility.

The lack of automated updates and backups can also affect your facility’s compliance with government guidelines and standards. For instance, failure to update veterinary imaging solutions may introduce glitches that fail to notify imaging practitioners of ionizing radiations that go beyond what’s prescribed in the International Atomic Energy Agency Safety Standards Series. Failure to comply with national guidelines attracts prolonged reviews and assessment of veterinary practices operations. These regulatory investigations can disrupt the normal operations of your staff, increasing the negative effects of inefficient workflows. In turn, the negative effects of failure to comply with standards—that result from manual updates and backups—can adversely affect the achievement of your practice’s goals.

Inefficient update and backup systems can affect your imaging practice’s workflow by influencing disaster recovery processes. Without a reliable system upgrade and data backup plans, your client’s data is at a higher risk in the event of a disaster that leads to data loss. Poorly updated and backed-up imaging systems have a higher likelihood of experiencing complete data loss when disasters strike. For your veterinary imaging facility, complete data loss would adversely affect workflows by hindering the creation of diagnostic reports and prompting clients to take retests during follow-up treatments. In such a situation, your veterinary practice will lose clients’ trust, see an increase in the costs of care, and incur additional costs trying to restore vital client data.

How can optimized imaging workflows impact doing business in your radiology practice?

In veterinary practice management, optimized imaging workflows refer to repeatable processes to which repeatable rules and automation are applied, making the processes more efficient, eliminating errors, and encouraging cross-specialty collaboration. Working with optimized imaging workflows impacts how practice managers conduct their businesses and reap the benefits therein. Therefore, assessing each benefit and explaining how they can influence practice management outcomes can shed light on what practitioners can expect when investing in solutions that optimize imaging workflows in their practices. 

Improve Staff Productivity

Optimized imaging solutions are crucial for improving staff productivity in a veterinary imaging practice. By investing in optimized solutions, your veterinary imaging practice can increase staff productivity by leveraging improved report creation approaches, simplified image-sharing protocols, and better management of multiple modalities. To clarify, improved report creation procedures that incorporate predesigned templates and an array of time-saving features help reduce the time required to create diagnostic reports at your veterinary imaging practice. Working with optimized solutions also improves your staff’s productivity by enabling practitioners to view client images and diagnose ailments with confidence. Using technologies like integrated DICOM viewers, your veterinary imaging staff can employ features like a multidimensional planar reconstruction to achieve greater accuracy in diagnostic processes. Over time, these features will improve your facility’s overall staff productivity, helping cut the costs of care at your facility, improve your competitive edge, and enhance veterinary practice management outcomes.

To understand the magnitude of optimized solutions in your veterinary imaging practice, let’s look at Asteris Keystone software as an example. With this highly customizable veterinary imaging solution, your facility can improve its staff’s productivity exponentially. By leveraging the solution’s application programming interface (API), your staff can easily access client records, track examinations, and make schedules by working seamlessly with other veterinary imaging platforms. Since APIs improve interoperability in tech systems and enhance communication, integrating such a system into your veterinary practice management strategy can help eliminate workflow bottlenecks. Ultimately, your facility can achieve many veterinary practice management goals, like timely diagnostic reports, high-quality services to clients, accurate and timely diagnoses of pet ailments, and lower costs of pet care.

Furthermore, optimized imaging workflows can improve your staff’s productivity by eliminating distractions. Research has shown that distractions impact staff productivity because it takes approximately twenty-five minutes for a practitioner to resume previous tasks. Therefore, adopting optimized veterinary imaging workflows introduces systems that can help your staff communicate more effectively via inbuilt systems rather than personal phones. With optimized information sharing systems, veterinary imaging practitioners don’t have to stay on the phone to convey diagnostic results—optimized solutions automate the sending of diagnostic reports to all participants. Also, optimized imaging workflows can eliminate duplicate processes within your facility. They can ensure that your staff members don’t repeat history questions for a specific pet, annoying pet owners and increasing the time needed to diagnose a particular case. In turn, efficiencies introduced by optimized imaging workflows can increase your staff’s productivity because your staff will be able to focus on the most important tasks.

Improve Collaboration and Consultation
Optimized imaging workflows promote collaboration and consultation within veterinary imaging practices. Notably, optimized workflows integrate efficient picture archiving and communication systems (PACS). With PACS, practice managers benefit from the efficient storage of client images and programs that are capable of displaying images in the DICOM III format. Also, PACS can integrate tools that aid in the evaluation of images and support simultaneous viewing at different locations. This greatly improves collaboration and consultation in your veterinary imaging practice. With the capability to simultaneously view client images, your staff can collaborate with various imaging specialists to diagnose different ailments. Increased collaboration helps improve the accuracy of diagnostic reports, improving clinical outcomes. Over time, improved diagnosis helps improve client retention rates and lower the cost of treatment at your facility.

Let’s look at the case of the optimized imaging workflow that incorporates Asteris Keystone PACS. With this PACS solution, your facility can improve collaboration and consultation with an integrated DICOM image viewer that supports 2D Multi-planar Reconstruction. With this feature, your staff and consultants can easily reconstruct vital images in multiple planes, helping your facility achieve greater diagnostic accuracy. This will boost treatment outcomes in your facility. Asteris Keystone PACS also works with other DICOM-compliant viewers and integrates a patented image transfer method that can help your facility transfer DICOM and non-DICOM images two to three times faster than other providers. With the ease of sharing images due to Keystone, your staff can easily seek clarification or consult on a variety of diagnostic issues. This can improve your staff’s productivity and help your facility achieve its veterinary practice management goals.

Optimized imaging workflows can improve collaboration and consultation by making one-to-one consultations with pet owners possible. With such consultations, your veterinary practice can offer excellent customer service. Sometimes, operations can get quite involved, limiting the personal touch that clients will get when visiting your practice. However, with optimized imaging workflows, your facility can prioritize interactions between pet owners and practitioners. Due to a warm and inviting atmosphere that accompanies a human touch, your clients will feel more comfortable entrusting their pets to your imaging practitioner’s care. These minor touches can help your practice stand out among competitors and help align your veterinary practice’s activities with your client’s expectations. Ultimately, your practice manager can achieve higher client satisfaction and retention rates, cut costs of veterinary imaging care, and improve profitability.

Improve Data Safety and Efficiency with a Hybrid System

With optimized imaging solutions, which often incorporate a hybrid architecture, your veterinary imaging practice can improve data safety and efficiency. Optimized hybrid imaging solutions often employ systems that combine complementary imaging modalities to improve diagnostic accuracy and treatment outcomes. Hybrid systems ensure that more detailed diagnostic information is obtained, providing a broad view of a particular ailment. This improves your facility’s efficiency because your staff can make accurate diagnoses while minimizing expensive and time-wasting retests. Optimized imaging workflows that incorporate hybrid systems can also ensure data safety by supporting automatic updates and backups. With hybrid imaging systems, various tailored veterinary imaging solutions can be interlinked to ensure that high-quality images from your practice are stored in real time. This ensures that your facility does not experience disruptions due to data loss or have images with inconsistent quality.

For example, optimized imaging workflows that incorporate Keystone’s hybrid architecture can improve your facility’s data safety and operational efficiency. On data safety, Asteris Keystone Software Suite enables your facility to overcome the hustles and worries accompanying manual backups and system updates via local and off-site image-archiving solutions and automated updates. With Asteris leveraging cloud-based servers and an array of patented image-handling protocols, your imaging team will benefit from compression techniques that maintain image quality, high-speed off-site archiving systems, and highly reliable off-site storage systems that provide access to data regardless of internet connectivity. 

On operational efficiency, Keystone supports a variety of systems that improve service delivery at your facility. For data safety, Keystone incorporates reliable data recovery solutions that simplify the recovery of lost or corrupted files. This eliminates disruptions caused by data loss. The Keystone PACS also improves the viewing (via a web browser or Asteris’s online DICOM viewer) and transfer of client records from any device, anywhere and at any time. The improved access to patient records improves efficiency by eliminating delays caused by ineffective communication between imaging practitioners. 

Another efficiency-boosting feature supported by Asteris is the pay-as-you-go model. With this feature, your facility only pays for studies that your staff has accessed, cutting costs associated with extended service agreements. Increased costs may introduce barriers to technology use, so this payment feature can help your facility adopt the game-changing technology without expensive commitments. This benefit ensures the optimization of your veterinary practice, helping unlock numerous cost-related benefits. 

Cumulatively, Asteris Keystone’s efficiency-improving features will benefit your facility, improving your competitiveness in the veterinary imaging space.

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