Let technology help streamline your life


What does all the new technology floating about in cyberspace offer you as a practitioner?

What does all the new technology floating about in cyberspace offer youas a practitioner?

Are these new modalities just going to fill up space or create spacethat will simplify your daily life?

The good news is that American productivity will increase with the useof current technology.

Certain technology can go a long way in streamlining your life.

Information 'needy'

Americans must make six telephone calls to a typical business to getthe information or help that they need, so any business that can improvethis bottleneck surely will benefit.

Consumer need for information and access to our time can be a burden,but with the careful selection and use of these available items we can improveour quality of life while improving customer service.

One of the biggest issues facing the business paradigm of veterinarypractice is emergency medicine.

A survey we conducted shows that 90 percent of the time consumers wantinformation; they do not necessarily want to have their pet seen. Cybertechnologycan help.

We need to keep things simple, so we will discuss a Web page, the instantmessenger, the cellular telephone with caller i.d., mail options, FAXes,e-newsletters and, low and behold the new models of hand-held walkie talkies.

·Web Pages: We can provide reams of information in our offices,with written handout materials, making sure our telephone personnel arewell-trained and with seminars for our staff.

The use of a Web page can streamline those duties. Certainly one issuefor the consumer is that they need to be "hit" with messages anumber of times for the message to register.

A simple Web page can provide the essential information needed for theconsumer: hours, emergency numbers, first aid and introduce the staff tothe public.

Of course we have all been overrun with the cliché, "Theydon't care how much you know until they know how much you care," sothe staff, their interests, and lives can be presented. Clients are delightedto know that members of the staff have special interests in reptiles, birds,dog breeding, dressage or even rock climbing.

·Instant Messenger. I expected this technology to be a waste oftime and effort when it was introduced, yet it has produced a lifeline ofsupport and communication between clients and staff.

The instant messenger is about the size of a small cellular telephonecomplete with a screen and keyboard. The keyboard is a little funky butvery useable. The screen is small but very serviceable. Access to e-mailand instant messages is excellent.

The joy of the instant messenger is that each message saves a telephonecall and a page at an inconvenient time. The major benefit of instant messagingfor the client and the clinic is a speedy exchange of information. The6 a.m. inquiry about a cardiac case can have the patient in at 9 a.m. withouta telephone call hassle.

·Cellular Telephone. This seems too obvious. Yet the reverse angleview of the cellular goes like this: use the cellular primarily as a pagerand skip the pager. Put caller i.d. on the cellular and bingo, when thetelephone vibrates, look at the screen to screen the call-answer immediatelyif you want, or pick up the message in 10 minutes when it would be moreconvenient.

·Fax Machines. This somewhat dated technology holds a very specialplace in the business world. Some thought that with the emergence of e-mail,cellulars, and instant messaging that the FAX would die. But the fact isthis-the FAX is reliable and quick. Clients can be encouraged to send questionsin by FAX, the data studied and a reply returned to them in 10 minutes orless. Sure beats trying to make those six telephone calls, pull the record,rush, rush, rush to find the record and doctor, and oh, dang, they havebeen on hold two minutes and the telephone is beeping again.

·e-news and e-newsletters. Folks that are on line like to getuseful information. The practice can bundle together groups of clients withspecific needs and give them "information bullets." Such an informationbullet could be a short and sweet discussion of the diabetic and fructoseamine.The delivery of such information complete with some keywords, or even hotlinksto information libraries gives client data they need to be more informedconsumers along with recommendations to care for pets more effectively allthe while easing pressure on the staff.

Keep each e-mail group to 50 or less to keep the information focusedand not too generic.

Walkie Talkies. Even a smallish practice can have trouble finding staffwithin the building and this can sometimes present a problem. Pagers arejust too cumbersome so these little hand-held walkie talkies that sell for$50 to $60 can be hooked on a belt or put in a pocket to enable personnelto communicate with each other. Hospital intercoms are just too troublesome,create noise pollution and assume that someone is on the other end of theline.

In our practice, we use two units for one hour every day-during the inpatientadmission hour when patients are being ferried into the ward; a great laborsavor.

No-no list

There are some techno-gadgets that do nothing but annoy clients. Tryto limit or eliminate them:

·Electronic answering. We want voices, all of us want voices.Consumers are increasingly avoiding businesses that have electronic answering.Sometimes we have no choice but to deal with companies that use electronicanswering such as a cable company or a public utility. When folks have achoice they will call a business with a voice.

The instant messenger, the cellular paging, e-mail, e-news, and

Web pages are a nice way to take the pressure off of the clinic telephone.

Don't return the calls. We want calls returned. Generally, consumerswant an answer within a couple of hours. So secure a hidden outside lineand location within the clinic to make outgoing calls so as not to be interrupteddoing these times.

Technology can be a blessing or bane. Let technology work for you ina way that lets clients know you are available, minimizes waiting time andprovides a professional conduit to give them as much information about theirpet and its care as possible.

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