Bringing the digital world into your practice
Learn how easy digital communication, E-commerce, and telemedicine can be for you and your practice.
The world is becoming increasingly digital, with technological conveniences providing instant access to shopping, requesting rides, watching television programs, and connecting with friends and family. Access to almost anything is at our fingertips. Yet, communicating with veterinary providers lags behind when compared to the technological access in our everyday lives. With people of all generations desiring, and even demanding, such conveniences, it is worth taking to heart how we can incorporate technology into providing veterinary service.
In his recent lecture at the Atlantic Coast Veterinary Conference (ACVC), Eric Garcia, IT expert, digital marketer, and founder of Simply Done Tech Solutions, a digital marketing company serving veterinarians, discusses ways in which we can incorporate digital technologies into our practice. Given that communication apps, as well as the use of online pharmacies, provide greater convenience to pet owners, Garcia points out that incorporating these into your practice is attractive when promoting your practice and retaining client base. Technology is a way of life these days, and depriving pet owners of such a convenience can be frustrating for all. They can message their physicians, refill prescriptions online and have them arrive at our homes, and even access some medical records.
Some of the areas in which Garcia suggests incorporating technology into veterinary practice include telemedicine, online pharmacy access, and communication. Communication via text message is natural to most people. Although occasional pet owners may prefer phone communication, these preferences could be noted, and for those who prefer text messaging, apps can provide more rapid access to providing patient updates, answering questions, and providing greater access to information such as future appointments, when their pet is due for a visit, and more. Certainly, some topics warrant face-to-face or phone conversations; however, brief updates or organizing patient dismissal logistics are things that easily and efficiently can be managed via messaging apps.
Such apps not only provide a convenient route for communication but could also allow owners instant access to some of their pet’s medical records, should they need copies or wish to refer back to medical recommendations at a later time. However, Garcia warned that only 1 or 2 apps out there offer full medical record access so make sure to research and ensure you have the app that best fits your needs.
Garcia also explains that online pharmacies are becoming more and more utilized by pet owners. Practices can provide this convenient service as well, by partnering with existing online pharmacy providers to serve their clients. For those practices that have an online pharmacy partnership, this should be promoted to pet owners.
Similarly, Garcia notes that telemedicine provides a convenience to pet owners that could allow them to minimize taking additional leave from their workday. Although some visits must be conducted in person, particularly to establish an active veterinary-client-patient relationship (VCPR), other follow-up visits may be amenable to telemedicine and may provide greater convenience to owners.
Although there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to using technology in veterinary practice, it is clear that in many practices, technology is underutilized. And that incorporating its use in some of these areas can promote practice efficiency and improve client relationships.
Dr Rebecca Packer is board certified in neurology by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and is an associate veterinarian at BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital in Lafayette, Colorado. She is also the founder and owner of the Pre-Veterinary Mentoring Group, LLC, through which she provides mentorship for pre-veterinary students during their path to veterinary school, and is the founder and owner of The Pocket Neurologist, LLC, a vet-to-vet teleconsulting service.