Shopping for Software?

If given the freedom, your employees will discover how to get the most out of a veterinary hospital’s computer programs.

Originally published in the November 2015 issue of Veterinary Practice News. Did you enjoy this article? Then subscribe today! 

A veterinarian’s office can get chaotic with animals and pet owners demanding the staff’s attention, so the last thing you need is complicated software that slows things down because of confusing functionality and that stumps the workers using it.

Face it, the true value of any software is determined by the staff’s ability to use it effectively.

Mike Erickson, vice president and general manager of Idexx Information Management, says the Westbrook, Maine, company provides software spanning from diagnostics to an array of information management systems such as Cornerstone. All are geared toward helping veterinary practices advance the health and well-being of pets.

“Idexx offers an extensive array of training options,” he said. “Cornerstone offers online training through the Idexx Learning Center, free of charge. It features video snippets and end-to-end, role-based training.”

Onsite and remote training and coaching on all aspects of the software and practice workflow are available. Plus, customers who face a challenge can get to someone via email, text or phone.

Craig Claney, general manager of AVImark, said the Piedmont, Mo., company offers practice management software and the tools that integrate with AVImark, such as credit card processing, client communications tools, data backup, and hardware sales and support.

“We pride ourselves on being able to completely connect your practice and all the pieces in it,” he said. “This leads to greater clinical productivity and ultimately greater profitability.”

Claney noted that the fastest, most efficient way to learn new features is to get training from the software provider. Training is the key to effectively using software to its full potential, no matter the program, he added.

“We see training as an investment that pays off with increased efficiency, the delivery of better care and, as a result, more income for the practice,” he said.

Hallie Detjen, general manager of Henry Schein Animal Health Practice Solutions, said ImproMed software provides ongoing support and training.ImproMed software provides ongoing support and training.

“All new ImproMed Infinity and Triple Crown clients receive on-site implementation from a member of ImproMed’s team of trainers,” ImproMed Infinity and Triple Crown clients receive on-site implementation from a member of ImproMed’s team of trainers,” Detjen said. “This initial training is designed to help the veterinary practice integrate the software into their business.

“The on-site implementation includes assistance in setting up computers or hardware as well as Infinity or Triple Crown software specific training,” she added. “Customers also have access to live and previously recorded webinars.”

Additionally, the Dublin, Ohio, company’s ImproMed Community Access Network allows veterinarians to share thoughts, documents and suggestions with both peers and ImproMed employees.ImproMed Community Access Network allows veterinarians to share thoughts, documents and suggestions with both peers and ImproMed employees.

Find the Gems

Many software management systems have basic applications that employees handle easily, but they may not have discovered hidden gems—the best features that make things simpler.

AVImark refers to these hidden gems as advanced features, and they include things such as an electronic medical record, a whiteboard and automated inventory management.

“You can get by without them, but once you implement them, life within a veterinary practice gets much, much easier,” Claney said. “In fact, some users have said they can save $3,000, $5,000 and even $10,000 per year just by making more efficient use of their software.”

To help customers use these features, the company offers the Online Academy as well as regional and national workshops.

“This year we hosted several Practice Builder Workshops around the country—two-day workshops offering hands-on courses ranging from basic to advanced skills,” Claney said. “Our veterinary customers were able to learn a lot of information within a short amount of time and put it to work right away when they returned.”

Idexx helps offices get the most out of software during the company’s annual Information Management Conference, where Cornerstone and DVMAX users get continuing education and share their favorite hidden gems.

ImproMedImproMed holds Practice Builder Workshops regionally to assist practices in finding the gems that best suit the hospital and its workflow.

“We will travel on site to practices regularly to drive performance,” Detjen said. “Our professionally trained support staff can also review current processes and offer advice.”

Ask the Right Questions

When shopping for a software system for the veterinarian’s office, one should be clear about what it must do and how the system addresses those goals.

For example, ask how the software will grow with the practice and how the software will integrate with existing tools, services and programs.

Idexx’s Erickson advised asking about the company behind the software.

“Given the very critical role of PIMS [product information management software] in a practice, you want to be sure you’re backed by a company that has the resources and long-term commitment to veterinary software to support you over the long run,” he said.

Claney recommended that clinics shopping for software ask themselves five key questions:

  • Which features are most important to the practice?
  • Are advanced features needed to support a paperless practice?
  • Does the practice have high turnover, which means a software program that is easy to learn and use may be necessary?
  • Do certain reports need to be “canned” and easily pulled on a daily basis?
  • What are a prospective software’s most popular features?

“Some software products charge extra for additional licenses and workstations,” Claney said. “Understanding exactly what a software program provides is key to making the right choice and understanding the true cost.”

“You also may want to talk to clinics that recently converted from other software products to get their perspective,” he said.

The Final Say

Unlocking software’s full potential may take some work, but once the staff is trained in all it can do, office life will get much easier.

Remember, the experts say, a software vendor is there to help you.

Take advantage of the provider’s training opportunities and implement advanced features as quickly as possible. Learning them all at once may be overwhelming, so make a list and prioritize. Implement one feature, and then move on to the next.

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