Your practice management software is the centre of your practice and daily tasks. Onboarding clients, managing work as it progresses and organising everything from client details, deadlines and emails – every member of your team will work with your PMS every day.
This is why your PMS is undoubtedly the most important technological investment you will make and bear in mind that it can also be the toughest to change if you get it wrong so when considering what PMS to get for your new practice or if you’ve decided it’s time to move on from your current provider it’s really important that you make a list of what features are important to you and your team. Don’t rush this part, it’s important you take your time to really consider your options.
Not every practice is the same, so we can’t tell you which system to pick, or compare them all here (although we are working on producing a guide which will do just that) but an integral part of making this decision is understanding your needs. It might even be worth talking to your team to see what works for them and what doesn’t, they systems they have used in the past as well as any ‘must haves’ and ‘nice to haves’.
We’ve worked in the veterinary sector for over 15 years, which means we have a wealth of experience working with PMS providers, helping clients pick one for their new practice and guiding clients through the process of moving to a new one.
So here is what we’ve learned…
A good PMS should provide the foundation and infrastructure for a smooth workflow today and five years from now, but you must know what you’re looking for at the outset to ensure a successful outcome. Before you even talk to a provider ensure that you have listed out all your requirements, we’ve put together a list to get you started, including 13 areas to consider:
1. Hosting your PMS in the Cloud or Locally on your Server
Cloud-based and server-based systems each come with their own expenses, advantages, and return on investment, all of which will impact your business. We have already covered the positives and negatives in our blog ‘Cloud Vs Server: How to makes the best decision for your practice‘. The same applies to whether you go for a local server hosted PMS or cloud based one.
2. Accessing your PMS on the Go via their App
Can you access the PMS whilst on the go? Do you need functionality to allow for this e.g. are you planning on having a large animal team? This is particularly important if due to the Coronavirus you have a dispersed team.
3. Printers and Diagnostic Equipment to work with your PMS
- What will you need on the peripheral front if you were to go for their PMS. What equipment is compatible e.g. printers, label printers, receipt printers etc.
- Have you got a specific vendor you would like to use for your diagnostic equipment, if so, are their products compatible with this PMS?
- If you are also searching for diagnostic equipment check out our article ‘5 Technical Considerations When Choosing Diagnostic Equipment‘
4. Getting Information from your PMS with Reporting and Analytics
- These are fundamental to measure performance and benchmark your business. Are the reports provided in the PMS enough or will you need to bolt in an external system (Business Information Platform) to get the information you need?
- If so, which ones are compatible with your chosen PMS?
5. Enhancing the Functionality of your PMS through Third Party Integrations
- Once you have a good understanding over what the PMS can do, do you need any other integrations to fill the gaps, e.g. managing health plan payments, insurance integrations, PACS integrations, client portal, online booking, wholesalers.
- These integrations will vary from provider to provider and you need to make sure that the PMS along with the integrations will do what you need them to do e.g. two way sync.
- Don’t forget linking with your accounts platform, is this possible and if not what does that mean for the person or team who manage the accounts?
6. PMS Updates and the Vendors Roadmap
- How frequently does the PMS system get updated? The more frequent means that the provider is more invested in their solution.
- If possible, try to understand their roadmap of what they plan to integrate and include, perhaps there a way you can make suggested improvements? (Also do you have to pay for these PMS upgrades?)
- We discuss the importance of making sure your systems are updated in our blog ‘Upgrade: the risk old equipment poses to your veterinary practice‘.
7. Ensure the PMS Keeps your Data Secure
- What have they put in place to keep you and your client’s data safe? We’ve actually seen cases where the PMS provider has recommended turning off a practice’s antivirus to get their software to work. This is a BIG red flag.
- Is the PMS system GDPR compliant?
- Remember it’s not just the PMS provider’s job to keep your data safe, you will need to put other measures in place as well. We outline them here: ‘7 Ways to Protect your Veterinary Practice from Cyber Attacks‘
8. Preparing for a Disaster and Ensuring there is a Backup and a Plan
- What will the PMS provider do to ensure the consistency of your data in case of a disaster?
- You should have a disaster recovery plan in place already, will you need to alter this to fit with your PMS?
9. Upskilling your Team through Training on the New PMS
- How will the PMS provider support you in getting you up and running with their software? Is it just remote, will they train your team leaders or do they handhold you throughout the whole process and then train your full team?
- Do they offer some form of learning management system to upskill new team members to better understand how to use the system?
- When they do updates to the system do they offer top-up training so you can make the most of new features?
- Is any training they offer included in the price or will you have to pay more?
10. Ensuring your Veterinary Practice has Ongoing Support with the PMS
- Whether it’s a software bug or human error, inevitably the day will come when you need some extra help with your practice management system. What are your hours of operation and will your PMS vendor be available should you incur a problem during your hours of operation?
- Understand what SLA’s they have in place (Service Level Agreements), this is their commitment to you, which you can use to hold them accountable.
- What will their support cover and what will it not cover, it’s good to get a solid understanding of this, as this may inform the service you need from your IT Support company.
11. What Others Think of the PMS through References
You may be completely sold on the solution and loved the demo, but it is always worth getting a reference from one of their clients to get a true understanding over how the PMS works for their practice. Remember this is one of the most fundamental investments to your business!
12. What the Costs are Associated to the PMS
- How much does the system cost, how do they charge it and are there any hidden charges you should know about? Make sure they take time to explain everything to you.
- Is there a basic package you can top up with extras?
- If you are planning on expanding your practice, how will this affect your contract.
13. Getting a Good Trial of the PMS Before you Commit
Before going ahead with anything ensure you get a trial of the system and get your list of requirements together, physically check and tick off everyone to ensure it was not just a very good sales pitch.
The list really could just go on and on, we definitely haven’t thought of every single possibility. So why not try adding some other sections to the list then use it to create a comparison between the PMS providers you are considering?
Be sure to discuss this with your team, as they will no doubt bring a different perspective to the process and remember they will be using the system every day too, their opinions are just as important.
As always, if you have any questions our team of Veterinary IT Experts are here to help, you can book in a chat with them at a time that suits you.