Does the technology in your practice stack up?
An ever-increasing range of digital products and services is available to help modern veterinary practices better serve the needs of both their staff and their clients. But to make those systems work effectively and efficiently, practices must ensure all their tech is properly integrated.
We live in a digital world where our day-to-day life has become dependent on the commoditised technologies we use. Living in the digital age means the line between our “digital” lives and our “everyday” reality is blurred.
Having access to the world at any time through our mobile phones has evolved the way we live. Our daily routines, such as banking, social media, health care, fitness, communication, shopping and more, are all accessible through our pocket PCs to view the Wi-fi landscape.
When we think of technology organisations that have pioneered the world we live in today, we think of businesses like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook and Apple. The very DNA of these businesses is technology.
Each has a technology infrastructure and development team to shape and build its business. So, how have other industries, such as the building trade, accommodation and leisure, public transport, retail or recruitment, been able to evolve into the digital age when they were established before the new digital world?
Businesses have had to innovate and adopt a process known as tech stacking.
A tech stack is defined as a set of technologies an organisation uses to build a web or mobile application. For example, let’s look at the tech stack for Airbnb, the online lodging business established in 2008 that now has an estimated worth of US$38 billion. Airbnb has a tech stack of more than 50 different applications. Only one of these is a proprietary application.
In essence, when customers go on to the Airbnb site to book accommodation, they see a single user-friendly web- based application that services all their needs. What we don’t see is the 50+ applications from third-party businesses that range from frameworks to database ecosystems, security, UI/ UX solutions and many more that have been combined and integrated to deliver the web-based application we see as a consumer.
Using tech stacking, Airbnb has been able to build a market-leading platform that has been developed using third-party applications. Your veterinary practice exists in this digital world, where average pet owners have easy access to the essential areas of their lives through their mobile devices.
They can bank easily, manage their homes easily, access their cars, receive reports from their schools on their children and more. So why, as a pet owner, can’t they access everything payment history, purchasing drugs to be delivered to their home, socialising with other pet owners and more. The simple answer is they should be able to do all these things, and with the help of tech stacking, practices can become part of the digital ecosystem.
Some fantastic digital offerings exist in the veterinary marketplace today, from online booking platforms to wearable technology, but in the main, they are still stand-alone systems. This means pet owners and practices need to sign up and login to multiple platforms. Following the trends from other marketplaces, we need to look at integrating these individual services on to a single platform that practice owners and staff can access.
These platforms should also have a customer-facing tool where pet owners can access the applications they feel suit their needs and the needs of their pets. When looking at building a tech stack, you would usually start with the front end. The front end is the piece that faces the customer, which in this case is the practice and the pet owner. Veterinary practices are fortunate, as the industry has more than 40 different practice-facing legacy systems available, commonly referred to as practice management systems (PMS).
Understandably, some are more capable than others, but these legacy systems have existing, well thought-out and tested tools built within them, such as clinical treatment functionality and stock management tools. Some of these systems have been re-engineered and migrated over to the cloud. A cloud-based PMS not only allows for easy web browser access, but these systems also have something known as a “global API”, which enables third-party systems to integrate their software with the existing PMS.
As well as client convenience, when thinking about a “tech stack” for your veterinary practice, consideration needs to be given to the practice team and your existing workflows. All too frequently, veterinary practices use multiple platforms that are disconnected, for everything from patient treatment to analytics and customer communication.
These digital gaps are, at best, inefficient, as team members hop between systems, but they can also lead to an incomplete picture of patient health and compliance, or an incoherent view of business performance. A veterinary practice “tech stack” should provide actionable insight in real time, relieving the end user of any day-to-day decision making that doesn’t add value.
Through developing a “tech stack”, veterinary practices can achieve a higher level of integrated connectivity that will save time, money and deliver insight into patient outcomes.