How to modernize your veterinary practice
Embrace new techniques to increase customer satisfaction, boost productivity and drive revenue long term.
The world has gone digital, with nearly all major industries embracing technology wholeheartedly to streamline operations and improve customer experiences. Whether it’s a restaurant that offers online reservations and ordering, a physician’s office that provides telemedicine services for its patients, or an e-commerce retailer that proactively displays curated selections based on a customer’s unique tastes and preferences, using technology to optimize customer experiences can significantly bolster business and engender greater loyalty.
When it comes to streamlining operations and modernizing customer experiences, however, the veterinary sector has some catching up to do. In today’s fast-paced, digital world — where consumers expect frictionless and engaging experiences, businesses are getting savvier and more innovative, and veterinarians carry higher student loan balances than ever before — it’s no longer enough to tout “50 years of local service!” or various industry accolades in an effort to sustain business. To thrive in the current landscape, veterinary practices need to embrace new techniques to increase customer satisfaction, boost productivity and drive revenue long term.
The veterinary industry can (and should) modernize its customer experiences and incorporate more technology as other verticals have done. In doing so, veterinary practices gain the opportunity to better cater to the digital-native generation that now represents the largest group of consumers in the United States. Also, it’s worth noting that the millennial generation owns roughly 35% of the estimated nearly 160 million U.S. pets, according to research from the American Pet Products Association. Failing to capitalize on this demographic’s market dominance, its commitment to pets and its preference for seamless, digital experiences simply isn’t an option for any veterinary practice that seeks to remain relevant and competitive.
What Your Veterinary Practice Can Do
Here are three tips to help veterinarians and practice managers begin to streamline their operations and modernize the customer experience.
1. Eliminate Paper-Based Processes
Where possible and over a gradual period, eliminate paper-based processes to streamline internal workflows, reduce room for human error and safeguard backup materials. Of course, going paperless helps the environment, satisfies eco-conscious consumers like millennials and can create a more fluid experience for your customers.
Try using a digital receipt system, for example, and set up recurring, automatic payments for prescription refills or scheduled vaccines. Leverage an online system for patient intake and forms, use secure voice-recognition technology for capturing patient notes on the fly, and go digital for all appointment scheduling and related reminders.
2. Redesign Waiting Room Areas and Experiences
According to an article by Heather E. Lewis, a veterinary practice can see up to a 20% increase in revenue after a remodel.
If renovation isn’t feasible, start small by updating your waiting room. Painting the space in cool, calming tones doesn’t cost much and can provide comfort to anxious pet owners, for instance. Bring in pet-safe plants and furniture that’s comfortable yet clean-lined to modernize the look of the area, and consider providing water and healthy snacks to help ease any client impatience that might arise during busy periods.
Also, as Lewis suggests in her Today’s Veterinary Practice article, consider hiring a greeter. This staff member shouldn’t be glued to the phone or handling paper-based appointment scheduling. Rather, the person should greet and assist pets and their owners as they arrive by providing a quick online check-in or direct them to the appropriate team member.
3. Leverage Pet Health Insurance
Any business needs to sufficiently charge for its services in order to survive. However, many veterinarians struggle with the psychological dilemma of wanting to help as many pets as possible and needing to charge what their services are worth.
Pet health insurance can help overcome treatment pricing woes as insured pet owners are more financially prepared to accept veterinarians’ recommended treatment options and pricing, providing, on average, up to an additional $211 in care for their pet each year. They’re also able to afford more frequent patient visits.
Encourage pet owners to acquire pet health insurance and leverage digital, data-driven comparison tools so that they can learn about their pet’s unique health characteristics and find the best coverage options without having to sift through dozens of potentially conflicting, paper brochures.
A Marathon, Not a Sprint
Modernizing your veterinary practice is essential for long-term success, however it’s equally important to not make too many changes too quickly. Start with small, simple updates that don’t cost anything but can provide significant impact, such as helping pet owners navigate pet health insurance options via free, data-driven tools. Work gradually to digitize long-held processes such as paper billing and scheduling.
Prioritize by resolving your practice’s biggest pain points first, such as redesigning waiting rooms so that they’re no longer congested or adjusting treatment prices to better reflect your worth. In doing so, veterinary practices can join and benefit from the digital, customer-experience revolution that’s bound to gain more momentum in the years to come.
Woody Mawhinney is co-founder and CEO of Pawlicy Advisor, a pet insurance comparison site at www.pawlicy.com.