10 Feb How to Be Creative in a World of Shortage
By Duffy Jones, DVM, Owner, Peachtree Hills Animal Hospital, Founder, DVMSuccess
COVID has taught us many things over the last few years – some good and some bad. However, one important thing is how to be adaptable as things change every day. Our industry has always been creative and we have the unique ability to figure things out. Need to make an external fixture for a hamster with a broken leg? No problem. Need to figure out how to pull a chop stick from a lab’s trachea? No problem. Our industry is extremely creative and resourceful and now we need to use this creativity to figure out how to provide quality care to pets with limited staff.
Staffing issues are on the forefront of everyone’s mind. We are seeing not only veterinarians leave the profession but technicians, CSRs, and kennel workers leaving as well. While the doctors are the star of the show, the star cannot do much of anything without staff! So let us turn on creative and resourceful brains to figure out how we can work with a smaller staff. Here are some ideas:
Can we harness the power of technology to be able to automate history forms, consent forms and estimates to free up a staff member to help in other places? Can we automate some of our callbacks and blood work responses so veterinarians are not working until 10:00 pm each night? Can we use automated phone trees to take the pressure of the phones off the staff? There is a significant amount of new technology that you can use to make your hospital more efficient. I would recommend talking with the staff and asking them one thing they would like to automate and start there. Look for programs that can help on the areas that your staff likes the least.
When you have a full book of appointments and then 10 emergencies to work in on
top of your regular schedule, that is the recipe for burn out. By forward booking routine appointments (vaccines, rechecks), it will help make your schedule more predictable. Consider leaving open appointments in your schedule for same day emergencies. Having more routine appointments bracketing emergency slots can help the hospital handle the same day emergencies and stay on time.
Working from Home
Now this might seem counter intuitive since you might already be short handed at the office. However, if you allow employees to work a half day from home, I do believe it
will keep them in the profession longer. This is the antidote for burn out. What can they do from home to make this a worthwhile endeavor? There are many things including callbacks, doing estimates, and auditing charts to make sure all the reminders are correct and up to date. Auditing charts will produce a significant amount of missed income and also provide better care for the owners. There is nothing worse than a client calling saying they were just in your office and a Bordetella vaccine was not done and now they need to board their pet. The Bordetella vaccine was not done because the reminder was never put in your system. This happens all the time, and by having a person auditing your charts, you can recapture that income and have happy clients.
So, we need to do what veterinarians and staff in our profession do best to get through these challenging times. We need to let our natural creativity come through and innovate great solutions that will work for you particular hospital.
Dr. M. Duffy Jones, completed his Bachelor of Science degree in biology at the University of Notre Dame and obtained his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine at Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine. He then completed an internship at Georgia Veterinary Specialist in 2000. In 2005, he founded Peachtree Hills Animal Hospital located in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Jones is a past president and the current treasurer of the GVMA. He is the co-author of The Business Side of Veterinary Medicine: What Veterinary Schools Do Not Teach You, published in 2017. Dr. Jones founded dvmSuccess in 2019 with a vision of applying his expertise, diverse experience and 21st century technology to the task of upgrading the practice financial advisory service and related services that serve the veterinary market.
Taken from the winter edition of, the GVMA’s quarterly magazine, “The GA Vet.”