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Buyer's Guide

by Taylor Short,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: February 11, 2017


Like other medical practices, veterinarian offices need a solution to help manage administrative functions and patient information. From initial contact with patients and pet owners to automated reminders and billing, veterinary software is available to streamline operations for a smoother patient experience.

Hippo Manager's chart notes
A view of notes for a canine patient in Hippo Manager.

In this guide, we’ll cover the following topics:

Common Features of Veterinary Software
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Important Considerations
Recent Events You Should Know About

Common Features of Veterinary Software

The features of veterinary software are quite similar to those of human-based medical practices, and share some of the same trends. The goal is to automate some manual processes that occur regularly and enhance veterinary capabilities to improve patient treatment and increase convenience for their owners.

These features typically include:

Electronic medical records Medical offices use electronic medical record (EMR) or electronic health record (EHR) software to keep track of patient details and store documents. A backbone of veterinary practices, the EMR includes past visit records, vaccination and lab documents, diagnoses and other details used for each visit.
Medical billing or point of sale (POS) Most systems offer some type of billing and invoicing capabilities to make transactions simpler. Other vendors may offer the ability to integrate other accounting or POS applications instead.
Patient scheduling Veterinary software users can schedule appointments for existing patients or begin profiles for new visitors. Many systems offer an easy-to-use calendar view for scheduling to drag and drop appointments and add other information, such as staff assignments, rooms or other notes.
Automated reminders Patients are often busy, so sending a basic reminder or alert for an upcoming visit is an effective trend in appointment management. Schedule notifications based on a date or set up recurring automated messages.
Inventory management Vet clinics need to maintain a supply of medications, vaccinations, food, treats and other office consumables and find the optimal stock quantities. This functionality can help offices create purchase orders, track batches and generate inventory reports.
Document and image storage Users can store important digital documents and images such as X-rays, scans or lab results, in a secure location for quick retrieval.
Microchipping and boarding Veterinary software can offer support features for microchipping, with connections to commonly used databases for lost pets. Additionally, users can manage boarding reservations and records.

What Type of Buyer Are You?

Of those looking for new software, most cite at least one of these reasons:

“I’m replacing old, outdated software that is no longer supported.” This is a common complaint of software buyers from any industry, but it’s particularly important for medical practices to maintain software updates for compliance and security reasons.

Technology is imperfect, so if the system ever crashes in the middle of a busy day, support will be needed to get back up and running.

“I’m progressing from manual methods to more automation.” Even smaller vet practices can be buried in paperwork to manage, which reduces efficiency. By transitioning to veterinary software, you can reduce the clutter, make it easier to retrieve information and prevent errors or missing documents.

“I’m moving from several disparate systems to an integrated suite.” When a pet owner comes in with their sick cat, you don’t want to enter their medical history in multiple systems and hope all accounts are up-to-date.

Modern veterinary management software centralizes the most-used applications in one interface for quicker and more efficient workflows that keep sensitive medical data secure and accessible to the appropriate employees.

Important Considerations

With any software purchase, there are many factors to consider aside from basic functionality and price. Deployment options and various add-on modules can turn a generic suite into a software package that meets all of your needs. Consider these when seeking software:

  • Cloud-based vs. on-premise. Nearly any type of software today will offer a cloud-based deployment option, where the system and any associated data is stored in computers on the vendor’s side. This is becoming the popular choice for many software buyers for its security and ease-of-implementation benefits. Alternatively, vendors offer traditional on-premise deployments as well—the choice can depend on whether your practice employs IT personnel, security of your location and more.
  • Mobility options. Another major trend in software technology is the move toward more mobile options. By offering mobile apps for the smartphones or tablets many consumers already have, or by supplying their own mobile devices, companies can significantly increase efficiency of daily tasks. Veterinarians and nurses, for example, can enter patient details directly into a tablet during an examination.

Recent Events You Should Know About

The veterinary and pet health industries are constantly changing in ways that impact the daily duties of doctors, nurses and office staff. Here are some recent events that are important to know:

New in 2017: Global Dental Guidelines. Standards for diagnosing and treating dental problems for pets has, historically, been limited. In 2017, the World Small Animal Veterinary Association expects to release the first Global Dental Guidelines. When available, these documents will add a new layer of expertise for vets, and can be stored within software for quick retrieval.

Vet practice culture is big factor in success. A new study, announced at the American Animal Hospital Association 2016 State of the Industry presentation, shows how important working relationships and company culture are to the success of a vet practice. Some key takeaways include:

  • Managers and administrators carry a positive perception of overall culture; Those without decision-making power and lower wages hold a less positive perception.
  • Practices with fewer employees and less gross income are associated with positive perceptions about leadership, teamwork and more.

Starting salaries are up, but job market still tough for vets. The starting salaries for new veterinary graduates has been on the decline for the past few years, and the number of new vet professionals finding positions straight out of college reached a high of 1,446 in 2015—up from the record low of 598 in 2012. While these signs show promise for the industry, it also represents a tightening of the job market.

 

 

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