Are your team members always busy—or at least appear busy—yet the work isn’t getting done? Are you frustrated by team members’ frequent complaints that they don’t have time to get projects completed? The problem may lie in your inefficient systems and processes. Here are 5 ideas that will significantly improve efficiency in your veterinary practice.
- Go paperless. The day of paper medical records is gone—that type of system is a dinosaur! It’s long past time to make this change in your practice. Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? Yes! Every veterinary software company has a protocol you can follow to make the transition. Contact your software company to find out what you need to do to make this happen for your practice. I promise it’ll be one of the smarter things you’ve ever done to improve efficiency in your practice.
- Use templates. Once the switch from paper medical records to electronic medical records has been accomplished, your next step is patient care templates. Many software systems already have templates. All you need to do is modify them for your practice. Imagine having a discharge order form already formatted so that all you have to do is fill in the blanks and check off the boxes. You can do the same for your outpatient exams, surgery log, anesthesia log, dental medical record and medical care plans just to name a few.
- Embrace technology. Are there enough computer terminals in your practice, or do people often wait in line to use a terminal? Do you use writing tablets, iPads or other technology in the exam room to help you communicate with clients and improve efficiency? Might an additional credit card machine help your receptionists invoice clients faster, so that clients won’t have to wait. Today, technology needs to be updated every three years or so—some might even say sooner. A newer, faster computer or printer might be an easy way to pick up the pace in your practice.
- Manage inventory with barcodes. Many distributors and software companies will help you set up barcode scanning throughout your practice. Barcode scanning can be a thing of beauty when used correctly. It cuts down on a lot of inventory mistakes, ensures proper pricing and reduces the time needed for inventory management.
- Script your conversations. When a client calls to ask about heartworm, feline leukemia or West Nile virus, how do your team members respond? Some receptionists and technicians may be clear and concise in their communication, while others suffer from what I call “verbal diarrhea.” The other question is, what are team members telling clients—and are they all saying the same thing? I strongly suggest practices develop written scripts for some of their most common communication topics. People don’t need to speak exactly from the script, but scripts help team members remember to cover the important points.
These are only 5 ideas to save time and to improve efficiency and profitability in your practice. Truth be told, they were pretty easy to come up with. Sometimes it’s the little things that can have the biggest impact—not enough phone lines, clients waiting to process credit cards because a phone line is busy, running between multiple printers for client receipts because they’re too slow. Take a look at your processes and talk to your team members—they are a great source of knowledge. Together, try to identify the areas where your practice is inefficient and start taking steps to improve upon those parts. The rewards can truly be great.