As a profession, we are facing a major staffing crisis, and the added challenges of a pandemic contributed to an even higher increase in burnout. Hospitals across the country are seeing staff leave left and right, many of them for new industries entirely.
More and more, staff are coming to expect the tools they have access to at work to mimic the intuitive consumer-facing apps we use every day to streamline everything from grocery shopping and navigating, to paying bills and booking events. There has been a sizable gap between our consumer lives and work lives.
Within our profession, team members leave for a variety of reasons. Veterinary medicine is physically and emotionally demanding work, and when you pile on low pay, difficult clients, packed schedules, inefficient processes (plus a pandemic), and some technology that hasn't caught up to the times, it’s no wonder we’re struggling to hire and retain veterinary staff.
But we’re a resilient bunch, and there are ways to solve this. There are so many benefits we can uncover when we effectively leverage business technology in our practices. With our increased patient loads and need for time management and efficiency (and of course, patient safety), the technology we choose can be a critical tool for taking the pressure off our staff so that they can be at their best.
Let’s look at 5 ways technology can simplify workflows, streamline processes, reduce stress and burnout, and ultimately, improve staff retention.
1. Technology can facilitate collaboration and teamwork, so individuals don’t have to carry as much of a load.
Naturally, collaboration and teamwork are essential for providing quality patient care in veterinary medicine. But it can be challenging when team members are overloaded and sharing responsibility for dozens of patients across multiple different shifts.
From web chat tools to digital whiteboards and practice management software, technology can make it easier to work together more effectively, reducing the burden on individual team members.
For example, using internal communication tools like Slack can ensure that staff can openly communicate with each other at all times, wherever they are. In some practices, that could mean a near-instant response to an urgent question. Maybe if you didn’t have to chase team members down to communicate the details of every patient hand-off, you might actually get a chance to eat lunch.
2. Technology can offer increased flexibility, which can improve work-life balance.
Flexible working arrangements have become increasingly important in recent years, and technology can make it easier for us—yes, even veterinary professionals—to have a more flexible schedule.
From teleconferencing software such as Zoom or Google Meet to chat platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams, getting in touch with your team from afar is now easier than ever.
Plus, remote access to practice management software and clinical resources (ie, your practice bookshelf) makes it possible to handle questions from clients and team members from a variety of locations.
Keep in mind: The ability to participate in work from a distance shouldn’t mean you never put it down. Draw thoughtful boundaries and use these tools carefully. The point of work-life balance is to make sure you have some not-thinking-about-work life in there.
3. Online learning makes it easier to stay current with our industry’s rapid changes.
In veterinary medicine, staying up-to-date on the latest clinical best practices and diagnostic and treatment techniques is essential for providing quality patient care, which in turn can boost employee morale and retention.
From webinars and podcasts to online CE, articles, and videos, our industry has no shortage of helpful online resources designed to keep you current.
Choose the most helpful publications and platforms for you and check in with them regularly. Who knows? Maybe the article you read over your morning coffee is just the thing you need to solve a challenging case that comes into the practice later.
4. Convenient access to accurate information supports quality patient care.
As veterinary professionals, we tend to hold ourselves to high—and sometimes impossible—standards. We want the best for our patients, but not every case goes as planned. No matter how long you’ve been in practice, a case that doesn’t go according to plan can shake your confidence. And without support you can count on, each new case can feel more insurmountable than the next.
Having easy access to accurate, trusted resources helps time-starved professionals like us consistently provide quality patient care. There are a variety of clinical resources out there that help you find answers in the middle of a case (without running to the practice bookshelf for a dog-eared textbook). Platforms like Plumb’s Pro, a clinical decision support tool for veterinarians, and VIN, which can connect you to other veterinarians and experts for guidance, can be incredibly helpful when you’re confronted with a case you don’t see often–or ever.
5. Increased efficiency and productivity can improve job satisfaction.
You know that feeling when you check an item off a long to-do list? Or even better, multiple items? Take a moment and picture it: That soaring feeling of accomplishment! The adrenaline coursing through your veins! The … No? Just us? Ok.
Even if you’re not perpetually chasing the high of checking items off a to-do list, we can all agree there’s a sense of fulfillment in actually getting things done. It’s certainly better than running from one unfinished task to the next at a breakneck pace—a surefire way to wear yourself out.
Enter veterinary practice management software. We all know it. Most of us use it. Depending on your provider, your current system probably helps you streamline key tasks like appointment scheduling, patient records management, billing and invoicing, inventory management, reporting, and analytics… you get the idea. After decades of managing stacks of paper records, this move toward automation has made a big difference in helping veterinary teams get things done.
Here at Instinct, we think practice management software should go a step further, turbocharging all things hospital operations.
- It should make your work more enjoyable.
- It should make you and your team faster, more accurate, and more in touch with available information.
- It should help you and your team communicate with each other, catch errors, discover new treatments, and illuminate previously hidden clinical patterns.
By embracing technological advancements and offering a user-friendly, modern experience for your staff, veterinary practices can empower their teams, boost overall job satisfaction, and ultimately, retain top talent in a competitive industry.
If you’re in the market for practice management software (or just started realizing that what you’re using isn’t cutting it), now’s the time to have a look at Instinct. Request your demo today—we’re confident you’ll like what you see.