Today's Veterinary Business

APR 2018

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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22 Today's Veterinary Business Business First to act were the early adopters. The next group was composed of practices that saw the benefits but were slower to imple- ment, sometimes because budgets couldn't support updated infrastruc- ture. The third group comprised practices that made the move be- cause of a change in their practice management system or ownership. If you ask any of them, they would say they would not go back to the paper days. But in many cases, they would add that they are not totally paperless, either. A doctor shared with me that he Paperless records have long been a topic of discussion in veterinary practices. "Has everyone else made the move?" "It's dangerous because of all the hacking." "Do we go there?" There are a lot of excuses for not going there. feels he is paperless but that his practice generates reams of printed material that are not kept. There are many variations of paperless. To answer the "why" of whether you should go paperless, a few things come to mind: • The simple efficiency of hav- ing all the information at your fingertips. No more searching for misplaced files. • Data protection, the most im- portant part of going paper- less. With proper electronic protection, data is safe from natural disasters and system failures. The sprinkler system going off above the file cabi- net is no longer a fear. • Clients who expect digital ac- cess to their pet's information and who expect the practice to utilize technology. If you are not paperless, or maybe you keep reams of paper but say you are paperless, let's have a discussion. What is holding you back? What usually stops a practice from moving forward is the over- whelming thought of the process. Where does one start? Once broken down, the task is not over- whelming. The best advice is to plan, process and implement. Electronic recordkeeping will take a practice to the next level as long as the computer hardware gets needed upgrades, data is protected and the veterinary team is trained properly. The Planning Stage Get started by setting goals and dates upfront. Evaluate what needs to be changed in the practice be- fore paperless becomes an option. An inventory of your electronic infrastructure is the first step. How do you feel about your software? A good, hard look at your software can take time. Next, consider the reporting, connectivity and ease-of-use as- pects of a paperless environment. Reports become very valuable in a paperless environment. If you determine that your practice management software can do the job, look at how you would document items such as digital X-rays, both skeletal and dental. These are important parts of the electronic record. Then, meet with your tech- nology provider. Is the computer hardware sufficient to keep up with a paperless practice? Do you have a good backup system? Plan for routine data recovery as well as disaster recovery; they are equally important. Every piece of data in the practice needs to be addressed in the backup protocol. Remember that computer hacking is a real fear, so work with your provider to have the correct protection protocols in place and to develop internet safety rules for your staff to follow. You also need to evaluate the placement of data-entry systems. Paperless fails every time if there are not enough entry points and the staff has to wait to enter data. Are these systems up to date and are there enough of them around the practice? Finally, explore training options offered by providers. New work- flows and processes will occur in the new environment. Have a good handle on what will be necessary so that you can plan accordingly. The Processing Stage Now is the time to bring staff members into the picture. Let them know how excited you are to become a paperless practice, and share your implementation By Nancy Dewitz Business

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