💡 “So, when are you going to sell?”
This is a question every veterinary practice owner hears on a regular basis—and will likely continue to hear as the pace of corporate interest and acquisitions continues to accelerate. Valuation multiples are at record highs, and consolidators are coming up with a variety of ways to partner with and invest in hospitals rather than the traditional full takeover.
We commonly get questions about how software figures into these partnerships and investments, so we had a virtual sit-down with Dr. Ivan “Zak” Zakharenkov and Ryan Leech, the experts at Veterinary Integration Solutions, to find out how they help these corporate consolidators evaluate and select the best software solutions for their hospital networks.
Get the high points from our interview below.*
1️⃣ How do you help a consolidator or corporation choose veterinary software that will help them most effectively manage and grow their business?
Ryan: We always focus on establishing workflows first, before getting the software—otherwise you might end up having a system that can’t be used because it doesn’t enhance or work well with your practice processes.
Once workflows are in place, we help consolidators select software that takes real steps to improve efficiency and optimize workflows for employees. Truly great software should be capable of streamlining controlled substance logging and state and federal reporting, reducing the amount of paperwork, improving inventory management and procurement, and limiting missed charges on invoices.
2️⃣ What key features do your team and corporate clients look for in practice software?
Ryan: Any software we recommend must be cloud-based and allow for unlimited users and constant uptime. We also look for options that are scalable for practices staffed by anywhere from one doctor to ten. An open API or the ability to pull out actionable data at the corporate level is also crucial for making projections and business decisions.
Ivan: There are 4 make-or-break features that I look for:
- Client communication tools (or a full client portal)
- Online appointment booking for the client
- Central structure functionality to support full hospital groups
- Reporting on flexible KPIs
3️⃣ How is hospital data privacy affected by the fact that so many software programs are now owned by larger entities with a wide variety of products and business models?
Ryan: Great question. Protecting your client’s data is important on two fronts.
One, they trust you with their information. They don’t want to be spammed, hacked, attacked, or duped.
Two, the data is very valuable to large corporate groups. A consolidator should be able to make long-term plans based on the data that they are collecting about their clients. If that same data is being accessed by another group within the industry, you are losing a competitive edge. Even if the larger entity isn’t in consolidation now, that doesn’t mean that your data won’t be part of their plans to move into that space.
4️⃣ How does paper-only record-keeping impact hospitals in the valuation process?
Ryan: Paper-only record-keeping can cause challenges for the clients, the associates, and the practice owners. It is harder to value a clinic that is on paper in part because of the increased potential for mistakes. Plus, it takes much longer to do due diligence and will typically yield a lower offer.
5️⃣ Which practice management software generally gives your team a sigh of relief and which are more of a hurdle or barrier to employee satisfaction and business growth?
Ryan: Cloud-based is always the best option, in our experience. When we find server-based software in place, it’s a hurdle that can be overcome, but usually by transitioning to something more modern.
Ivan: It is hard to say. The PIMS should be geared towards the operations of a particular hospital. An ER has completely different workflows from a general practice. I prefer solutions that allow numerous integrations and are not trying to build it all themselves, so I can decide what pieces to use and what to replace with an alternative app.
6️⃣ How can a hospital’s choice of veterinary software affect employee well-being and job satisfaction?
Ryan: Try taking away the letter ‘p’ on your keyboard. It’s used in less than 2% of words: So you can substitute perfect with great and party with soiree, but you’ll notice it. Working with a suboptimal software solution can be like that. Sure, you can get your job done using a legal pad and pencil, but you’re adding roadblocks and hurdles that will eventually lead to reduced job satisfaction.
Ryan is right, of course. Veterinarians and their staff have been getting by with suboptimal software for decades now. We’re smart, dedicated professionals, and we can often find a way to get the job done with whatever tools are available to us.
But that doesn’t have to go on forever. Innovation is happening in our industry, and Instinct is proud to be among those leading the charge. We build software that is intuitive and fun, enabling our users to focus on patient care while removing frustration and inefficiency.
Do you work with a veterinary consolidator, or are you interested in exploring how these corporations might be viewing and evaluating your practice? Get in touch with the team at Veterinary Integration Solutions to learn more!
*Answers have been edited for length and clarity. This post was developed in collaboration with Ivan Zak, DVM, MBA, and Ryan Leech at Veterinary Integration Solutions.