As a veterinary consultant, I have had the privilege of working with numerous hospitals to help them get a better understanding of their finances and areas of their hospitals that need tweaking for better performance and patient compliance. As a Certified Veterinary Practice Manager (CVPM), I also acted in a consultant role for five years with VetSuccess to enhance veterinary practice reporting and their Practice Overview Report experience for users.
Even after reviewing almost 100 practices, it never ceased to amaze me how quickly I was able to assess each hospital and get a feel for what areas in their practice that they were struggling with as well as the areas that they were seeing success utilizing the VetSuccess tools. Literally within an hour, I could make valuable suggestions to improve the bottom line and aid in ensuring more pets could benefit from veterinary services. But then COVID-19 hit…
The pandemic has changed our profession
This past year, COVID-19 has brought so many changes to our profession. Personally, I have been astounded and proud of how we as an industry have responded. Each challenge that was presented, we found solutions. It is my observation that the quality of medicine has not slipped in any way, however, the teams are having to work harder and often are dealing with a lot more stress and longer hours.
I took on two new hospitals this past year as an ongoing consultant.
Both had similarities in that they were single doctor practices with small teams and no managers. Neither practice had aligned their practice management software with their finances (in both cases, Quickbooks). Furthermore (big gasp), neither were using VetSuccess reports.
During our initial strategic planning, it was immediately apparent that I did not have enough data on the hospitals to really comprehend areas that needed help. It was exceedingly difficult to gather the information and metrics needed to make an evaluation and come up with a plan. Complicating the process was the inability to run needed reports from the two practice management systems as they were not cloud-based — I was not on-site — and I had a learning curve as the two systems were not ones I was familiar with.
Veterinary practice reporting — Work smarter, not harder
My role as a consultant is always to help the owner doctor by taking things off their plate allowing them to work smarter not harder. It was incredibly frustrating having to ask the veterinarian (remember the teams were small and there was not a lot of extra manpower) to gather the needed reports for me to analyze and decipher.
It took several months to align profit centers in the PMS and then mirror them in Quickbooks. Following the AAHA/VMG’s Chart of Accounts, I was able to structure the accounts appropriately. It was particularly important to us to ensure that moving forward, we would have normalized numbers so that we could confidently compare with other hospital performances and utilize the findings in the Well Managed Practice Benchmarks (WMPB). An accurate Profit and Loss Statement (P&L) was finally achieved after countless hours of work and a period of four months. Ensuring that services and inventory were assigned to appropriate categories alone took almost a week of work.
This was something that the VetSuccess team would have done if the hospitals were subscribers.
Having an accurate P&L was only the beginning. As a consultant, I still needed to know compliance numbers, how effective the reminder system was, and were clients compliant with the veterinarians’ recommendations. I had to gather data from the various reminder venues, teach an already overworked receptionist how to figure Forward Booking percentages as well as Bonding Rates.
“Until I had to start from scratch with these practices, I had not truly realized the value of such a fantastic VetSuccess resource.”
During my years of aiding practices in utilizing their VetSuccess Practice Overview Reports (POR), I had mostly worked with two or more doctor hospitals. Many were well-oiled machines who had fantastic systems in place but were always striving to improve and had subscribed to VetSuccess to glean more data to add to their already existing reports. Usually, after a CVPM consult, we were able to save them time and effort by streamlining their standard monthly reports and supplementing them with the POR. The seamless, behind-the-scenes collection of data was a huge benefit and the normalization of numbers lent itself greatly to be able to compare to industry standards.
We are seeing more and more corporate practices as well as 3-4 doctor practices than ever before. It is easy to overlook how many single doctor practices are still out there. These owner doctors are struggling to keep financially afloat and not lose their own sanity. They are veterinarians by day and managers, HR specialists, and building maintenance people by night.
Most make it work but at huge expense to their work-life balance and health. I would love to see every one of these hospitals using the POR and other VetSuccess reports and being trained from the beginning on how to use them effectively. My early years as a technician taught me that my primary role in the hospital was to make the doctor’s life easier and the hospital more profitable. As a consultant, that is still my goal and I know it is the mission for VetSuccess.
Stay afloat and thrive with better veterinary practice reporting
I strongly urge those not subscribed to the POR report to do so today. The cost will be recouped several times over in the hours saved by not having to run and analyze all the reports necessary to glean the information needed to run your practice. Secondly, use the resources available to you to correctly learn to optimally review them each month and strategically plan for improvement in areas needed.
My billable hours with these two consulting practices would have been cut by 75% if access to VetSuccess reporting had been available. I also would have had better confidence that the data was accurate and in alignment with normal standards for the industry.