8 Practice Hacks for Veterinarians
As a practicing veterinarian, you face numerous daily challenges in unprecedented times. Veterinary clinics are struggling with too many clients, not enough appointments, not enough help, and difficult clients on top of it all. When days are packed with back-to-back appointments, the responsibilities add up and it can be challenging to get everything done.
Here are a few veterinary practice hacks to help you become more efficient and give you more time with your patients.
1. Utilize Virtual Visits
Virtual visits allow you to make recommendations and prescribe medication without having the patient come to your clinic. In some cases, the patient may not need veterinary care and you can determine that by seeing a picture or video of the pet. Keep in mind that it should only be used in cases where a veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) has already been established.
2. Send Samples to a Reference Lab
When you send non-emergent samples out, be sure to have steps in place to streamline the process. Having a process that's followed for each sample sent to a lab can save time. For instance, have a plan for prepping and shipping samples, as well as sharing results with the client. For normal test results that don't require a discussion and follow-up testing, have your support team contact the client to inform them.
3. Leverage In-House Diagnostic Analyzers
In-practice lab testing should already be used as a way to handle cases where you need a fast answer. You can quickly cover emergent cases, test in-house, and get immediate results for your client. This allows you to make informed decisions on the spot for urgent cases and eliminates the need to follow up with test results or additional visits.
4. Add Buffer Time into Your Schedule
Add in buffer time, or short scheduled breaks in between appointments, to give yourself time to breathe and allow for wiggle room to handle emergencies as they come. It helps to schedule lunch breaks so you're less likely to give up your free time by working through them.
5. Lean On Your Diagnostic Partners
Today's reference laboratories offer a lot of great benefits so make sure you're taking advantage of them. For example, some reference laboratories have a team of experts you can consult on the results of recent lab work, at no extra charge. Lean on these specialists to save time and get to treatment of your patients sooner.
6. Triage Calls With Voice Messaging
Let your technology start the conversation with clients who call into the practice. For instance, you can use your voice messaging system to filter out non-emergent calls. The caller selects a number for refills, booking appointments, or other non-emergent concerns. These calls would go to a designated voicemail so only emergent calls would be picked up by a member of your team. This not only sets clear expectations for clients when they call, but also saves time for your team.
7. Use Text or Email Communication
Advances in communication technology make it easier than ever to reach clients. Automated texts or emails can save you and your team time from making phone calls. For instance, you can text or email instructions for upcoming appointments and updates about your practice. This form of communication works both ways. Have clients fill out forms, ask their questions, schedule appointments, or send information via email.
Instant communication for clients means you'll need to set clear boundaries. Business hours and emergency hours must be clearly communicated. Set rules for clients that explain how and when it's appropriate to contact you on various channels.
8. Prioritize Your Own Health
Practicing self-care and getting enough sleep is easier said than done for most veterinarians. Even with these practice hacks in place, it's not always realistic to leave work early enough for sufficient relaxation and a full night's sleep. Not taking care of your wellness can have a negative impact on a lot of areas in your life, including productivity. To make the most out of your time at work, you'll want to show up recharged and ready to go.
Because of these challenges, it's more important than ever to make your practice run more efficiently and give yourself much-needed time back in your day. With the help of these practice hacks, you'll be on your way to spending more quality time with your patients. Visit the American Veterinary Medical Association for additional information and resources.