Why you should get out of practice code debt – Part 3

5 min read

Other suggestions for minimizing practice code debt

  • Create one, inactivate three. Every time you add a code, try and inactivate three codes. (Note to self: every time I add something to my wardrobe I’m going to try take three items out!)
  • Look at a 12-month Revenue-by-Code report and think about how to rationalize your code base. Look at both the percent of revenue generated by your codes and the frequency with which those codes appear.
  • Ask your team if they have questions, comments, concerns or general thoughts about the codes that are being used and how you’re using them. The people who work with the codes every single day very likely have great ideas about how to make all your lives even easier.

The benefits of getting out of debt

The experts we spoke with all agree. Cleaning up your codes provides clarity, simplicity, understanding, and fewer errors. Imagine:

  • Faster time to train new staff. With fewer codes and an easier to understand framework new members of the team will fall into the rhythm of your practice easier.
  • Greater productivity. Think of Karyn Ekola’s example above where separate lab work codes for three different lab work codes for pre-anesthetic, wellness, and priority/sick pet were rationalized into one code. This leads to fewer decisions and conversations around which code to use. Do that across the practice and the result will be noticeable.
  • More accurate invoices. Our experts all agree that with fewer codes a little less granularity and removing possible duplication you’ll see far more accurate charges on invoices; and
  • More accurate reporting. Lastly, a favorite here at VetSuccess, reducing your Practice Code Debt will unequivocally lead to more accurate reporting of what’s happening in the practice. This allows you to spend less time cleaning up your codes and running reports and more time focused on making measurable changes in your business.


Practice Code Debt arises when practice management codes, that are easy to implement in the short run, are used instead of applying the best overall solution. The result is that practices are burdened with more codes than they need. There are things that you can do to rationalize your practice codes. These include reviewing and regularly inactivating (never deleting!) your infrequently used codes. The result will lead to efficiencies, reduced invoicing errors, and greater clarity.

This post is Part 3 of a series entitled “Practice Code Debt: What veterinary practices can learn from software development”, originally published in the January issue of Patterson Veterinary Insight magazine.

, Martin Traub-Werner

, Martin Traub-Werner

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