What’s in store for veterinary practice management software?

(A version of this article appeared in the January, 2020 issue of Veterinary Practice News.)

It’s really hard to predict the future. Back in the 1990s, plenty of industry experts questioned whether the Internet would last, or whether it would be quickly replaced (much like 8-track tapes were replaced by cassettes, and GPS systems were replaced by smartphones).

Those who believed the Internet was here to stay, were right. Today we have more than 50 cloud-based practice management systems and apps in the veterinary market, and we all use cloud services every day. Cloud software gives us accessibility, flexibility, affordability, and convenience. Cloud applications are also more secure because constant, automatic updates provide up-to-date protection.

But, even with this flexibility and accessibility, are today’s veterinary practice management software platforms fulfilling the true promise of the cloud? They store our data, but they don’t connect with and share information with other web-based systems. So where do we go from here?

Inspiration from other industries

If we want cloud-based practice management software to improve, the fastest way to get there is to borrow ideas and inspiration from other industries. The human medical market, for example, is more than three times the size of the veterinary market, so there’s more resources to invest in technology research and development. If we can borrow ideas and modify as needed to fit the veterinary market, we can get where we want to go … faster.

Wouldn’t it be great if …
You could manage all aspects of your business, right from your software?

Today, veterinary practices have to log in to disparate systems to handle payroll, marketing, inventory orders, human resources, finance – even paying bills from an online bank. All those steps take extra time. They involve leaving your practice management software and going elsewhere to complete tasks.

In the future, cloud solutions will be able to seamlessly exchange data with other systems and become a true data hub. So practitioners can get most everything done from right in their software system.

Wouldn’t it be great if …
Your software could help you diagnose medical issues?

Today, practice management software stores medical data in the electronic medical record, but veterinarians need to provide the diagnoses and treatment plans. In most cases, that’s pretty straightforward. But what about the specialty cases or difficult problems? Ones you haven’t seen before – or haven’t seen in a long time?

In the future, software will prompt you to research other topics based on the contents of the medial record and SOAP. That’s happening today in the fields of cancer research and human healthcare. If software is connected to a network of the latest industry research and case studies, it can help point you to the most relevant cases to help with your diagnosis.

This type of cloud functionality would never take the place of the veterinarian … but it could help to improve overall speed to diagnosis and quality of care.

Wouldn’t it be great if …
Your software could provide a better retail experience?

Today, the front desk is a very busy place. Staff members are busy checking patients in, checking clients out, scheduling appointments, rescheduling appointments, and trying to fit in appointment confirmations for the next day. Yet it’s also the most important part of the practice. It’s the first and last impression that clients have.

What if practice management software could help provide a better retail experience in the veterinary clinic? In the future, software will help streamline tasks more efficiently so the front desk can be a more welcoming place. Personal greetings, more client interaction, advance online check-in, and check-out via mobile device are just a few examples of how the retail experience within a veterinary clinic can be enhanced … inspired by other retailers.

Wouldn’t it be great if …
Marketing could be automated through your software?

Today, staff members pull data from their software to develop marketing lists, create reminders and campaigns, and deploy them. Sometimes they send the data to other providers to send marketing campaigns for them. But what if we could create a more automated process?

In the future, practice management software will help automate practice marketing. This is happening today in the marketing industry. Marketing automation and artificial intelligence tools can send marketing messages to customers and prospects based on their behavior or other criteria. Can’t our cloud software do the same by predicting what type of marketing our clients and patients should receive based on the breed, age, and health history of the patient?

That frees up veterinary staff members to focus on practicing better medicine, while automated marketing happens in the background to support it.

Wouldn’t it be great if …
Your software could anticipate your inventory needs?

Today, staff members manage inventory based on quantities on-hand … or the “eyeball” method. If something looks low, it must be time to order more. Sure, many cloud platforms have inventory management features. But data input and inventory ordering still requires manual effort from staff members.

In the future, software will anticipate inventory needs based upon upcoming procedures scheduled in the appointment calendar and prompt staff members to order supplies for just-in-time delivery. This is how inventory is managed in other industries such as manufacturing, because companies know that inventory management is critical for cash management. Too much inventory sitting on the shelf ties up cash and risks spoilage. Too little inventory can mean missed opportunities in product sales and procedures.

Future cloud-based software systems can view your appointment calendar and note the upcoming procedures and surgeries, compare supplies needed with what’s on hand, notify you if you are low on certain supplies, order those supplies, and check them in when they arrive. This gives veterinary practices tighter control over medical supplies … and cash.

Practice without boundaries

This type of cloud-based functionality is not available … yet. But these ideas represent the kind of thinking that comes from looking to other industries for inspiration and shortening the software development curve in the veterinary industry.

In order to accommodate this functionality tomorrow, we’re building the NaVetor cloud software platform today using advanced technology that can accommodate these workflow enhancements. It’s our goal to help veterinarians practice medicine without boundaries.



We’re building NaVetor today using advanced technology that can accommodate the workflow enhancements of tomorrow. It’s our goal to help veterinarians practice medicine without boundaries.