Sometimes we get caught up in the day to day rushing around, completing mundane tasks and getting the job done. The things that we do every day often become part of a routine, so when examining what we can do to simplify daily tasks and improve efficiencies it can be hard to see where changes can be made.
This is just as true in a veterinary practice as it is in the office that we work in here at Veterinary IT Services, the patients and clients you see might change every day, but the processes you go through with each (answering the phones, booking appointments, welcoming new clients, the appointment, writing up notes and taking payment) largely stay the same.
Tech has become a big part of how veterinary practices work, and the efficiencies that it has brought with it far outweigh the problems it can sometimes come with. Just look at the deep impact that tech such as a fully integrated PMS, hosted phone systems, online booking systems and telemedicine solutions have had on time saving and productivity levels at your practice.
But these are all big systems which require big changes. This week I challenged our team to come up with a small thing that can make big difference in a veterinary practice, based on their experience of working with vets every day. I promised to write a blog about the best one, so here we are.
At the beginning of lockdown in March, whilst office workers scrambled to set up remote working, Zoom became one of the most used software in the world and Telemedicine use rocketed, Microsoft were working in the background to expand its offering in Teams.
Teams has been built to facilitate the free flow of communication and information between team members, and there’s a myriad of features included that will simplify the day to day working life of everyone in a veterinary practice. Here are 5 areas that you could benefit:
With Microsoft Teams, you can have specific teams and channels for specific people. A great example of this, which we have recently helped a larger multi-site practice set up, is the different departments within the practice having their own Teams channel. For example, the reception team having their own Teams Channel, over which they are able to communicate (calls, instant messages meetings, video conferences) about booking appointments, scheduling conflicts etc whilst the VNs who want to discuss appointments, treatments and pet care can have their separate channel. The specific practice we’ve seen implement this even has a few channels organised by topic, such as ‘complaints’ and ‘social’.
With teams’ channels separated by departments or topic such as appointments and complaints, there’s far less clutter. It also makes finding what you’re looking for seamless if nurses are communicating all the time whether it be work or social related, as you don’t have to scroll through a load of irrelevant messages.
Reduce Email Traffic and Get Faster Responses
You receive emails from clients and suppliers, probably a few unsolicited sales and spam emails too. So it’s easy for emails amongst the team to get lost in all the noise. With Microsoft Teams, there will be less clutter in your inbox as prompt questions and problems will get resolved via a Teams chat. This is particularly useful for vets that don’t check their emails between appointments and practices who have vets and other members of the team on the move who are not able to monitor their mailbox. This negates the risk of causing problems at the other end as the sender could face a potential long wait for an email reply.
A cool additional feature of Teams is that you’re able to send an email to a Teams channel. This will then send all the contents of the email to the threaded conversation for all relevant team members to view, meaning you do not need to spend time re-typing or copying the content and reduces the possibility of misinterpretation.
Work On The Go, From Any Device
Are you vets on the go more? How much time do they spend actually sat in front of a computer?
Teams will allow them great flexibility and you can collaborate on the move, answer questions, share and view files (more on this below), join a meeting and much more from all their devices, whether it be laptops, tablets or mobile phones. If you have a 365 licence then Teams can be accessed on up to five devices with full support from iOS, Android and Windows Phone.
One of the practices that we work with have taken advantage of this by giving their farm vets a 4G enabled tablet each, with access to various systems including Teams. This allows them to communicate on the go with their team based in the practice as well as with each other whilst on the move.
Find, Share and Edit Files Quickly and On Any Device
With Microsoft Teams, you can file share within channels or private chats. If there are files that need approval, such as a personalised healthcare plan or the latest business accounts, then these files can be shared immediately, either with specific people or whole departments.
Once files are shared within a specific channel they will stay there indefinitely as they are all stored within SharePoint which is the file sharing service that Teams uses in the background, meaning that they are easy to find with a with search. An added benefit of this is that quick changes can be made to any document shared this way, so if a vet needed to make a quick amendment to a healthcare plan then they can do this on the move on any device.
Video Consultation Tool without the Expense
An interesting an unexpected use of Teams is that the ability to collaborate with clients outside of your practice, if your IT admin allows this, it can be used as either a Telemedicine solution or as a way to keep clients updated with their pets whist staying in the surgery.
You can invite clients to take part in a video call as a guest by using their email address. They will be listed as guest users so that you know you’re communicating with someone you don’t work with. Anyone with a business or social email account, such as Outlook or Gmail, can participate as a guest in Teams. If a vet or veterinary nurse wanted to get in contact with someone, they could send the client a meeting invite which they would log into using the link. Being able to have a video call this way can make a vet’s life easier and put the client’s mind at rest (especially during these funny times). You are also able to share documents, such as an X-ray or a bill via the video chat feature, or even just live chat to them in real time if the customer has any further questions.
Tech has infinite capabilities, but it is often the smallest differences that make the biggest changes. The probability is that your practice already has the Microsoft 365 subscription you need to be able to take advantage of Teams and the many benefits it could have for your day to day tasks.
If you would like any advice on if it would work for you or how to implement Teams within your practice then book a free chat with one of out veterinary IT experts here.