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How to Start a Vet Practice:  Laying a Solid Foundation for Your Clinic’s Technology

How to Start a Vet Practice: Laying a Solid Foundation for Your Clinic’s Technology

Thinking of launching your own veterinary clinic with a cloud-based EMR? This series gives you practical advice for laying your financial, technology, and marketing groundwork. We’re kicking off with technology considerations from our friends at I.T. Guru, who have set up hundreds of veterinary staff for success, data security, and smooth sailing.

One of the most exciting times in any veterinary practice owner’s life is launching their new practice and starting to see patients. 

However, getting there is not always smooth sailing. 

Chances are there will be a pre-launch wave or two (think: contractors, city permits, staffing, random inexplicable plumbing issue) that threaten to capsize everything you’re building. 

You can’t foresee every wave, but you can build your technology with plenty of preventive measures to avoid substantial headaches (and heartaches) downstream.

Here are some key points to consider now about laying a solid foundation for the technology that supports your practice, so you can stress less when you’re open for business and appointments are flowing. 

Start Smart 

Robust network infrastructure is essential for the seamless operation of the various devices and applications you’ll use, from management software to diagnostic equipment. So, build that infrastructure with care! 

And since it’s easier (and cheaper) to add data lines and other foundational elements during the planning stage than after the drywall is up, include your technology provider right from the start.

A technology provider like I.T. Guru works with your architect and low-voltage wiring team to ensure your plans include adequate data drops for network gear, workstations, Wi-Fi access points, and laboratory equipment.

Boost Your Internet Service Provider (ISP)

Cloud-based software can help streamline your practice and keep it oriented toward growth, which is fantastic! 

The downside? If your internet is slow, so is your business.

Here’s how you can connect (and stay connected) to the high-speed internet your practice will rely on for any cloud-based software. 

First, consider the speed you need. Ask your practice management software (PMS) provider what speeds are required to operate their platform. Then, work with your ISP to ensure you have the appropriate speeds or higher. 

In addition to your PMS, other critical operations will be tapping your internet bandwidth, such as cloud storage, telemedicine tools, real-time data sharing with clients and staff, and those beefy image or DICOM transmissions! 

A Note on Fiber Optic Internet

Fiber = fast transmission. Unfortunately, it may not be available in your area. If you're interested, it’s worth it to research what’s available, scout providers, and possibly consider enterprise solutions to get the right package for your practice. 

Have a Backup Internet Service Provider

You know you need a primary ISP and you’ll want to shop around to secure the best uptime guarantees and support. 

But did you know you also need a secondary (or failover) ISP? 

A second provider may feel like overkill, but remember: no ISP can guarantee 100% uptime. Your secondary ISP gives you a backup for when your primary provider is down. 

Budget Tip: You can run your secondary ISP at a slower speed to save on cost.  

Add Server Solutions for the Extras

While your EMR provider will manage the data related to your practice, you’ll still need solutions for several functions normally delegated to servers.

SharePoint or Google Workspace are simple solutions for file management. 

If your EMR provider does not cover smaller print servers, they can easily be deployed on your network to connect every printer (and label printer!) at every workstation.

In addition, your technology provider can work with you on cloud-based active directory solutions for user management. 

Note on Devices

One of the great things about cloud-based software is you only need a basic web browser to get started—think Chrome, Firefox, or Microsoft Edge. 

It doesn't matter if you’re using a Mac, Linux, or Windows; good cloud software plays nicely with all operating systems. This allows you to pick the technology that matches your vision for how you want your clinic to operate. 

Standardize Your Solutions

Mixing and matching works fine for socks on laundry day, but not so much for your practice tech. When choosing your technology solutions, keep it as standardized as possible to avoid compatibility issues. 

Business-class Microsoft products offer a wide range of integration and support options for your workstations. Also for your printers and label printers. 

If possible, avoid Wi-Fi and USB-only versions. They have more opportunities to fail, which results in more downtime for your practice.

Key Solutions to Consider  

Interactive Technology

Electronic whiteboards and other interactive technologies enhance operational efficiency and patient care. These tools help manage patient flow, track treatment schedules, and ensure critical information is readily accessible to the healthcare team, improving communication, reducing errors, and creating a more organized treatment environment.

Efficient Prescription Management

Effective prescription management systems reduce the time spent managing medication inventories, processing refills, and ensuring billing accuracy. Integrating these systems with your PMS and external suppliers can automate many of these processes, allowing your staff to focus more on patient care and less on administrative tasks.

Pick Your Payment Processor

When considering your payment processing system, choose one that aligns with your practice workflow and includes features like mobile payments and automatic billing for recurring charges, such as wellness plans or subscription services.

Digital payment solutions integrated into your EMR system can streamline billing processes and improve the customer experience by offering quick and secure transaction capabilities. 

If you opt for a third-party solution to ensure safe, consistent payment processing, check that it’s supported by your EMR before committing. 

Skip the Free Email 

A free email account with Yahoo!, Hotmail, or Google (Gmail) is great… for personal use. 

But for your practice, go with a domain-based email. 

A domain-based email allows you to easily manage users and permissions and saves you time off-boarding employees. It also ensures you’re in compliance with industry regulations regarding client data.

Plus, a professional, domain-based email enhances your practice's credibility and security. 

That’s like a win-win x3.    

Set Up Your Practice’s Website

You may be the veterinarian of choice for many pet owners near you, but if your website isn’t hitting the mark, they may keep searching. 

That being said, it’s just good business to give your website a professional touch and make sure it provides the right amount of information. This includes your services and staff, hours of operation, and important functionalities like appointment booking, contact forms, and access to pet health resources. 

In addition, you’ll want your website to be mobile-friendly and optimized for search engines to attract new clients effectively.

Think Cyber Security Now—Not Later

A well-designed network is also a well-protected network. Ransomware and phishing attacks are on the rise, and security has never been more critical than right now. 

To protect your clinic, invest in a robust, multi-layered cyber security suite with: 

  • Next-gen anti-virus 
  • Anti-phishing 
  • Spam filtering 
  • DNS control
  • Powerful firewall protections
  • 24/7 security operations center
  • Managed detect and response (MDR) monitoring 
  • Data backups 
  • Two-factor authentication for protecting logins

Technology Checklist for Your New Practice

  • Cloud-based practice management software (PMS)
  • Electronic whiteboard
  • High-speed internet connection
  • Secondary internet service provider (ISP)
  • Network infrastructure
  • Data drops for network gear, workstations, Wi-Fi access points, laboratory equipment
  • Firewalls, switches, wireless access points, battery backups
  • File management solutions (eg, SharePoint, Google Workspace)
  • Print management solutions
  • Cloud-based active directory solutions
  • Standardized technology solutions
  • Workstations, printers, label printers
  • Network connectivity for devices
  • Digital payment processing integration
  • A website domain, and secure and functional practice website
  • Domain-based email solutions
  • Telemedicine capabilities
  • Controlled drug storage and registry
  • Digital prescription management and dispensation
  • Distributor and supplier accounts
  • Reference laboratory accounts

If this sounds like a lot, it is. But remember: Your technology provider is always there to help you manage it all and ensure your network stays secure. 

Implement these preliminary steps to ensure your technology is ready to handle the demands of your veterinary practice, keeping both your data and your patients secure.

Need more efficiency, security (and profitability) in your practice?

Schedule a free consultation with a member of the I.T. Guru team! For more than a decade, the I.T. Guru team has provided stable and secure technology infrastructure and sound strategies for veterinary practices.