Do you struggle in your practice to be efficient and see a profit? Are you frustrated with yourself and your staff? The problem may be the systems you have in place. Here are ten ideas proven to significantly improve efficiency in veterinary practices:

Medical Records folder archive organized in the file cabinet.

1. Switch from paper to electronic medical records

It is long past time to make this change. I suggest you contact your software company to find out what you need to do to make this happen. I will promise you that it will be one of the smarter things you have ever done to improve efficiency in your practice.

2. Use templates in your medical records

Once you’ve switched from paper to electronic records, the next step is to develop templates in your veterinary software program. Many of the software systems already have templates; you just modify them to fit your practice. This one idea greatly improves efficiency and medical record quality while saving doctors’ time.

3. Embrace Technology

You may have computers but are there enough terminals? Have you integrated technology in the exam room to improve client communication and efficiency? Would an additional credit card machine help invoice clients faster? Consider that a faster or additional computer or printer might greatly improve efficiency.

4. Telephone operator station

Take the telephones away from your receptionists and set up a telephone operator station. Route all calls to the operator station, so that they can respond to client questions, schedule appointments, transfer calls or send them to voicemail. Client service will improve dramatically when receptionists can focus on the clients in the practice. This refinement of duties doesn’t require additional staff and results in enhanced customer service and greater efficiency.

5. Use bar code scanning

This amazing technology can streamline your practice, too. Use bar code scanning as you receive stock and at the point of sale to update your inventory automatically. Many distributors and some software companies will help you set this up. Scanning can cut down on inventory mistakes, ensure proper pricing, and reduce inventory management time.

6. Create scripts for the more common communication occurring in your practice.

How do your team members respond to client questions over the phone? Some may be concise while others may ramble. And is the information they are conveying uniform and accurate? I strongly suggest practices develop written scripts for their more common communication needs. Written scripts insure not only accuracy of communication but efficiency and consistency.

7. Outsource your reminder system

Many companies now offer outsourcing for your reminders. Most allow you to customize your reminder protocol and can process both postal and email reminders. Outside companies can be relied upon to get reminders out, and in many cases they will send reminders weekly and reference multiple pets on one reminder card, thus saving you money. Compare the cost effectiveness of outsourcing your reminders and don’t forget to factor in the time and cost of your team members.

8. Delegate

Many people believe that only they can do something and do it right – and they are headed for burnout and frustration. Delegation is an art that needs to be learned and practiced. Once mastered, you will see what an amazing a tool it can be to help you accomplish your goals and achieve success in your endeavors. One key to delegation is developing individuals to whom you can delegate and, in doing so, improve your productivity and efficiency.

9. Align your doctor office hour and surgery schedule with your team schedule

When creating your team’s schedule, first determine the doctors’ office hours and surgery times. The doctors’ needs should drive the team schedule. There are some excellent scheduling programs available to help you accomplish this task. It is hard to be efficient when you don’t have the right team members in place to assist doctors during the course of the day.

10. Make sure your laboratory results go directly into the patient’s medical record

One simple thing you can do to improve your practice’s efficiency is to inquire if laboratory results for in-house and outside laboratory can be sent directly into your patients’ medical records. Many veterinary software systems are designed to send lab results directly into your patients’ medical records. The time savings can be immense and it will prevent transcription errors.

Sometimes it’s the little things that have the biggest impact on your practice. Take a look at your processes and talk to your team–they are a great source of knowledge. Together, try to identify the areas where your practice is inefficient and start taking steps to improve your efficiency. The rewards can be truly great.

Mark Opperman, CVPM
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Looking for management tools to help you run your practice more efficiently? Check out our Big Blue Binder (now the VMC Comprehensive Management Resource Library) full of scripts, forms, and other valuable and timesaving tools.