Vets Pets is a privately owned veterinary practice group based in North Carolina that invests in small animal hospitals. In their model, Vets Pets partners with lead veterinarians to provide hands-on operations management, HR support, continued education, advanced technology, and professional resources, enabling clinical teams to focus on medical excellence in a supportive and healthy veterinary hospital culture. Vets Pets management, practice leaders, and staff work together to improve operational procedures and client service.
With 646 total employees and 105 veterinarians as of 2023, Vets Pets provides hands-on support for more than 30 veterinary hospitals, including general practices, emergency and specialty hospitals, high-quality, high-volume spay-neuter clinics, and pet resorts.
We spoke with Dr. Paige Harrington, Vice President of Medical Leadership, about how they’re using Instinct across multiple practices in their group.
About Dr. Paige Harrington
Dr. Harrington was working at an emergency practice that was acquired by Vets Pets in 2014. As the practice owner transitioned out, she took on more leadership responsibilities, including managing doctor schedules and participating in marketing and recruiting.
Her role grew alongside the expansion of Vets Pets into more ER hospitals, spanning from clinical shifts to critical conversations about staffing and client conflict resolution.
Over time, she took on a formal title without a predefined job description, adapting to the company’s growth and enjoying the evolving responsibilities. Today, Dr. Harrington is the Vice President of Medical Leadership, where she’s focused on helping veterinarians grow their careers and find out where they’re happiest and most successful within the Vets Pets group.
“My work at Vets Pets means a lot to me as a veterinarian,” said Dr. Harrington. “I’m a veterinarian first—I’m seeing my colleagues do well, feel happy, and still get home on time to have dinner with their families, but they can also have equity in something that they’re working really hard for.”
“Bringing in Instinct was a massive game-changer”
On the operational side of Vets Pets, Dr. Harrington was looking for a solution that understood the unique workflows of emergency medicine and could help improve efficiency and staff happiness.
“I knew immediately that Instinct was designed to answer the needs of emergency and specialty practices. Every other PIMS out there was designed for only GPs in mind. Not Instinct!” said Dr. Harrington. “A lot of things that were huge pain points for us had been considered and resolved, like projected invoices, being able to design a SOAP to be friendly towards referring veterinarians, and opening different records at the same time to save your spot.”
As an ER doctor, Dr. Harrington had always been disappointed by their practice management software; it didn’t fit with their ER workflows.
“I was always frustrated with the process of our old PIMS, and every other antiquated format I had used was just like it,” said Dr. Harrington. “They didn’t make sense in our workflow. We were still doing paper treatment sheets with handwritten notes and highlighting. I updated our practices to at least have the paper treatment sheets typed and then hand highlighted. So bringing in Instinct’s Treatment Plan was a massive game-changer. Watching an Instinct run-through for the first time, I just thought, ‘Oh my god, they thought of EVERYTHING.’”
The ability to accurately document patient care without the elevated risk of errors that comes with paper processes really made a difference for Dr. Harrington and her team.
“I had gotten into the business side of the company where we needed true documentation of what was going on when it came to defending our teams’ medicine to clients. It’s the stuff that none of us really like to think about, but it’s real. And it’s really nice to go: ‘No, I cannot falsify this record. What truly happened is documented right here.’”
“Like going from a 1996 Nokia to an iPhone”
When Instinct EMR launched in beta, Vets Pets was one of the first organizations to come on board.
“I was on the floor at each hospital when they went live,” said Dr. Harrington. “I helped practices design their SOAPs, templates, and discharge instructions and helped three practices migrate from our old PIMS, standardizing our terminology and treatment prices along the way.”
When implementing the full EMR, Instinct’s support team was essential in fielding questions, solving problems, and providing moral support to the entire Vets Pets organization.
“Within a week, the transition was DONE. With Instinct as our PIMs, it’s like we went from an old Nokia phone to an iPhone. It took a couple of days to get used to the change, and now we know how to figure it out.”
Raising the bar for patient safety
“For us, the absolute most critical piece of Instinct is still the treatment sheet,” said Dr. Harrington. “And that’s because we can now get things in a template format. We can all agree on how it’s going to be written. So there’s no confusion between the doctor team and the nurses on how something should be expressed. The combination of alignment on definitions, terms, templates, and the upgrade from illegible handwriting massively reduces the risk of human error.”
Dr. Harrington also noted that leveraging the treatment sheets in Instinct makes follow-up much easier, supporting future decision-making on a case.
“Something that used to take 15 minutes takes 5”
Analytics and reporting are a big part of Dr. Harrington’s job. With other veterinary PIMS, she used to pull up a report, put it in Excel, and crunch numbers every week—sometimes daily. Now with Instinct, at the end of the day, she can quickly see how many patients have been seen, how each practice is doing, and the status of different staff.
She actively leverages analytics reports in Instinct to look at sales, patients seen, and more to get a pulse on the volume of business year-over-year or week-over-week. The analytics and reporting tools make it easy for hospital administrators to keep her up to date and help track trends.
Quick-Fire Questions with Dr. Paige Harrington, DVM, VP of Medical Leadership at Vets Pets
Answers have been edited for length and clarity.
Instinct: How would you describe our product to a friend or colleague?
Dr. Harrington: Instinct is the veterinary practice version of switching from Nokia to iPhone. Veterinary medicine is a little late to the party, but Instinct is modern and staying with the times of consumer tech.
It’s very clear to me that Instinct was developed by a vet who was frustrated with writing records. This is foundational software to use in veterinary practices to get your job done more smoothly and make your life a whole lot easier. Instinct has solved so many of our daily workflow issues and made everyone’s job easier across practices I oversee.
Instinct: What’s been your favorite part of working with Instinct?
Dr. Harrington: As a whole, I love Instinct’s openness to suggestions and communication with the community. It’s refreshing to work with a company that listens to its end users and makes updates accordingly.
But most importantly, Instinct’s user-friendliness for end users—the last thing you want to do is fight with software. We’re in harmony with Instinct.
Instinct: What have your teams been saying about Instinct since they started using it?
Dr. Harrington: I hear a lot of, “That was easy! Don’t worry about it.” For something so widely used and impactful, Instinct is intuitive to learn—it doesn’t take a month to figure out how to do something. Many teams have commented on the super-fast training, and everyone who knows the before-and-after loves Instinct.
Instinct: What would your practice be like without Instinct?
Dr. Harrington: In the dark ages. Everything we do would take three times longer and be more frustrating. Before Instinct, I can’t tell you how many times I had actually imagined myself running out onto the road and throwing my computer into the street. Now I just do my work and have time to focus on more important concerns than old PIMS software glitches.
Instinct: What advice do you have for others considering Instinct?
Dr. Harrington: Just do it! You won’t regret it. The Instinct team has your back.
If you’re curious how Instinct Treatment Plan or our complete EMR platform could support your practice, reach out and request a demo.