Why veterinary practice management software reports are not enough

by By Sarah Susut

15 min read

You know tracking performance is important. You have practice management software that lets you run almost any report under the sun. You might even diligently run those reports every month, recreate your special information searches, and add those new numbers to your giant spreadsheet with 18 different tabs.

But here’s the thing: If you’re anything like me when I was a practice manager, you’re missing out on the full picture of your practice’s health. Why? Because veterinary practice management software reports (aka PIMS reports) just aren’t enough.

Let’s take a moment to break down why this is the case. We’ll also explore how Vetsource Data & Insights (formerly VetSuccess) solves each of these problems. Trust me, this isn’t a sales pitch. I just genuinely believe in their products, so much so that I left my practice and joined their team full time in 2019.

6 reasons why veterinary practice management software reports are not enough

1. It’s difficult and time-consuming to pull every single number.

When I was a practice manager, for the first 5 years I was always desperately trying to grab a moment of undisturbed time to get “my numbers.” I was often a month behind (at least) and was tracking so many different metrics that, in the end, I really wasn’t tracking anything at all.

Once my practice started using Data & Insights reports I was able to get all of “my numbers” in one place without having to pull anything. No more running multiple reports or maintaining and updating my gigantic spreadsheet. Just crystal clear, visual representations of the overall health of my practice.

I saved at least 4 to 6 hours a month — and we all know that time is the most precious gift a practice manager can receive.

2. It’s hard to tell which metrics truly matter.

Now you may say “but I’ve already built my spreadsheet and my formulas and I like running my monthly reports and adding the numbers in. It makes me feel connected to the data and helps me really remember the numbers.” Sure, but how do you know the numbers you are plunking in month after month are the right numbers to track growth?

Consider the following:

  • You are probably tracking your new clients, but are you tracking them against your deceased patients, your returned patients, and your lapsed patients (no transaction within 18 months), so you can truly understand if your practice is growing or shrinking?
  • Are you tracking if your new clients come back for a second visit within 18 months?
  • Are you tracking which of your veterinarians has the best compliance rate in each wellness category?
  • Are you tracking which age group has the most area of opportunity?
  • Are you tracking your lab testing to exam incident rate?

Vetsource works with countless veterinary industry leaders, plus a dedicated staff of individuals with actual veterinary practice experience. This means that every metric on our reports and dashboards is carefully chosen to ensure you’re looking at the right KPIs necessary for practice growth.

3. It’s unclear whether you’re pulling accurate numbers.

Embarrassing but true personal story time: For years I had been tracking new clients based on a monthly PIMS report. But when I started using Data & Insights reports in-practice I was surprised that some of my numbers didn’t match up.

My first assumption was that VetSuccess had it wrong because my PIMS is my PIMS, my source of truth! But no, my PIMS wasn’t “wrong,” it just wasn’t showing me what it said it was showing me. It turns out I hadn’t actually been tracking new clients — I had been tracking new accounts created in that month.

Not a big deal, you say? What about all the people that never booked an appointment because they were price shopping, or their pet passed away before they booked, or they did come in but not until a few months later? The end result was that my active patient base count was off by quite a bit. And I was using that number as a base for goal-setting and other calculations! Whoops.

Data & Insights reports and dashboards not only offer specific descriptions of all metrics, they’re also extremely transparent in how they come by their numbers, often including appendices of who and what makes up a metric. This means you can be sure that what you’re tracking is fair and accurate.

4. There’s no way to benchmark or compare your practice’s performance.

So you have your numbers from your PIMS reports and you feel confident about what they’re measuring. You’re not only comparing these numbers against the previous months, you’re also comparing them against the same month the previous year. Your numbers are going up and you’re feeling pretty darn good.

Appendix showing a list of services with percentage of monthly revenue, revenue per patient, and revenue per patient benchmark

Click to enlarge

But actually, all you’re really doing is comparing yourself against yourself.

You have no way of knowing:

  • How you are performing compared to your competitors
  • How you are performing compared to your region as a whole

It’s extremely difficult to set proper goals without these key pieces of information. This is where benchmarks come in.

Since Vetsource Data & Insights is connected to thousands of practices, and with our industry-endorsed data normalization process, we’re able to offer benchmarks throughout our reports and dashboards so you can compare your metrics. Every KPI tells you whether you’re below your regional average, and if so, by how much.

5. There’s no easy way to make the data actionable.

One of the areas I struggled with when I first started managing practices was delegating.

I felt like it took longer to teach someone else how to generate a list of who to call, email, etc. than it was for me to just handle it. Not only is “I’ll just do it myself” a fast track to burnout, it is also a sure-fire way to completely neglect taking action on all the things you need to.

Data & Insights offers two options for taking action:

  1. Appendices: the DIY hands-on approach
  2. Automated marketing: the set it and forget it approach

My practice began using the appendices and suddenly delegating became much easier for me. Monthly, with the click of a button, I had:

  • A lapsing patient call/email list, so we could take action before a client fully lapsed.
  • A list of which clients hadn’t been forward booked, which allowed the staff to reach out to book and me to see which team members were struggling in this area and needed more training.
  • A list of every patient that came in during the month that wasn’t compliant for wellness and who their provider was. With this list, my staff could easily send clients targeted emails, which we found to be much more effective than the generic emails most practices send to all clients about the importance of wellness.
  • The ability to track which veterinarians excelled in each wellness area and could therefore teach the rest of the associates.
  • A list of clients who did not have an email address on file.

Data & Insights automated marketing solutions, like RETRIEVER, basically do the work for you. A sophisticated algorithm finds lapsing patients who haven’t visited your practice in 14, 16, and 18 months and automatically sends a series of three emails encouraging them to book an appointment.

This kind of automated marketing is proven to increase revenue and retention, plus it frees up a significant amount of staff time, which is worth its weight in gold.

6. There’s little to no support available.

I don’t know about you but I never talked KPIs or how to measure growth with anyone from my PIMS support team! How to rebuild my species table, yes. How to measure my patient compliance rate, not so much.

All Data & Insights clients receive a one-on-one report review in which a coach not only helps you understand all of your metrics but also helps you focus in on a few key metrics to work on.

Go beyond veterinary practice management software reports to get to the next level

These are just some of the ways Vetsource Data & Insights reports and dashboards far exceed what you can get from your PIMS reports. And it’s not that PIMS reports are awful — it’s just that if you want to take your practice’s performance to the next level, you’re going to need more tools in your toolkit.

I was a good practice manager and I am proud of the work I did helping practices grow.  But I can’t tell you how much easier my job would have been if I had had access at the beginning of my career to the type of data Vetsource Data & Insights provides.

Sarah Susut

Sarah Susut

Sarah Susut is a product manager for Vetsource Data & Insights. She’s able to use her ample experience managing veterinary practices to continuously improve Data & Insights products. She also happens to be quite a singer and can teach you to sing. If you want to ask her about that or maybe veterinary practice management.

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