Get the Results YOU Want

Get the Results YOU Want

Choosing a Practice Management System…

Given that the career path that led me to Vet Dynamics included 6 years as Head of Operations with Companion Care, Vets4Pets and RxWorks, I suspect it’s hardly surprising that I frequently get asked the same question by our clients, and people across the veterinary profession….

“What is the best or most effective Practice Management System (PMS)”, and even, “which Practice Management System will generate me the most revenue”?

Which, in itself, sort of misses the point really.

Anyone who has spent any time working with Vet Dynamics over the years will fully understand that the data, although very important, is only part of the story. The real gift is in understanding and interpreting it, then utilising the information to drive sustainable change in capability and behaviour across your team. Thus, delivering the very best standards of animal medicine and subsequently revenue generation, client satisfaction and ultimately client retention and loyalty.

Sadly, there is no ‘magic wand’ or short cut, and it is a ‘cocktail’ of all of the above.

The reality of any PMS system is, that fundamentally, they all do the same thing.  They all look a bit different and many people will obviously express a preference for one, rather than another. Some will be cloud based, some will be server based, some will charge a fee at the outset, some will charge you a yearly rate, some are based on your turnover, some on the amount of transactions. But as I say, they all do the same job. Therefore, ultimately the answer to which is the ‘best’ and which is the ‘most effective’ for your practice will be dependent on you choosing the system that is best suited to your needs as a practice, your interface preferences, and the benefits you will get from it.

There really isn’t a right answer, just potentially some very wrong answers for you and your team if you get it wrong. My recommendation is that you ask your prospective new provider to let you have some details of existing clients. Ask for some data on how long their average response time is to calls, how many outstanding ‘tickets’ they have in their queue (a ticket equates to a service call), how often the system releases up-dates, what provision is in place if you need to call them at weekends or outside of office hours, bank holidays etc. And then consider all of this as part of your thought process. In terms of costs, my experience is that they really all cost the same in the long run whichever you decide to choose. Speak to your team, and any contacts that you have in other practices to find out their views on what they have previously used or, are using now. Ultimately the key question is “would you recommend your PMS system to me?”.

Be wary as you contact the sales teams though, as I am sure there will be plenty of special offers and trial periods. Sadly, you know what they say about a free lunch? It is part of the strategic plan of many of the PMS providers that they know the most painful thing you can do in any practice is change your PMS system, and, sadly they hope that you will not be inclined to change and consequently then stick with them.

One of the other things to be wary of is the added on non-essential services or, maybe even data analysis tools that are offered or discussed during your negotiations with your current, or proposed supplier. Will they really add any value to your practice and your ability to measure and drive performance?  Some of the options I have seen over the last few years are pitiful, whilst some, at the other end of the scale, suffer from information overload, a sort of ‘analysis paralysis’ if you will? Offering all sorts of data, very little that is of any use, that looks compelling but ultimately is meaningless. Many of the larger PMS providers will charge you extra for this with a view to then selling on additional “solutions” to you.

Many of these systems are built and designed by exceptionally talented code writers or programmers. However, from the PMS system providers solutions, either offered as “free” or as an additional product to purchase, I have still to see one that has been designed and tested extensively by veterinary professionals or teams of people that understand the veterinary profession.  In particular the mindset of the people involved, the challenges & opportunities they face, and finally the true ‘Key Performance Indicators’ of the profession. As previously mentioned, many of the PMS provided analysis tools are used as an opportunity for the supplier to further sell in additional services such as marketing.

Ultimately, as you will no doubt appreciate, any data analysis involved needs to be relevant and based on metrics that measure the behaviours that you want your team to exhibit in the consultation room, and those that will ensure the very best animal medicine is delivered in your practice and that your colleagues charge this on properly.

So, what is the answer to getting the Key Information you need from your PMS system? As of today, we are aware of 23 PMS providers in the UK that all deliver the same core function, but, as launched at our conference in September, ‘The Index’, provided by Vet Dynamics, is agile and effective enough to deal with these, and because of the benefits of working with Vet Dynamics we are able to ensure that when we are using benchmarking data we can do so safe in the knowledge that any KPI is being measured accurately, regardless of the PMS system being used. You will be surprised how difficult it is in any PMS system to measure accurately based on the differing descriptions and spellings used in practice. I have seen one which had 31 different spellings of one breed!

The new architecture of ‘The Index‘ also enables practices, for the first time, to look at individual clinics in multi-site premises, also affording the opportunity to drill down to individuals’ performance, enabling in turn the analysis of poor performance and the ability to identify development opportunities within your team. And this, is where the true ‘gift’ of business performance analysis lays. Affording you the opportunity to ensure:

  • That all your clients are getting a consistent message in the consult rooms
  • That all your patients are receiving the very best levels of care that they deserve
  • That you maximise the profitability of your business

 

There are a number of potential outcomes once you start to analyse and manage performance of individuals in your practice. Generally, these fall into one of two strands; capability or attitude, and there is a degree of inevitability that as soon as you start to measure and compare performance, you find yourself in a position where you need to address poor performance. This should never be a reason to avoid reviewing performance, and remember, your coach will always be able to assist you on the best way forward. It is generally my experience that unless you already have concerns about someone’s attitude, then anything ‘uncovered’, through any kind of benchmarking amongst your team will be a ‘development’ opportunity that will improve capability, as well as improve financial performance.

You can see it’s easy to spend a lot of time pondering and thinking about what is the best PMS system for your practice, and like many big purchases, it can be a costly mistake. Going back to my original questions, “what is the best PMS?”, ultimately that is a question that only you and your team can answer. You need to determine that it will enable you to feel comfortable that you are being able to offer the best levels of care for your patients and generate the levels of revenue your business requires to meet your profit plans. Remember, fundamentally they all do the same job. It’s using the system to get the results that you want that counts the most, rather than expecting the system to solve all of your challenges!

By Mark Colton

 

2 Comments
  • Jerry Crick
    Posted at 17:45h, 29 September

    Mark, great post on PMS systems. As you say, there ain’t no free lunch. I would only add that whichever system you use you need to test thoroughly and make sure it meets your requirements *before* you commit and also to make sure the supplier *proves* they can do data/system restores to any point in time – with modern SQL Server technology this should be possible right up to the point at which the system fails.

    Thanks, Jerry

  • Mark Colton
    Posted at 12:13h, 02 October

    Thank you Jerry, you make a very good point, and I couldn’t agree more.

    Best Wishes

    Mark