By: Isaac Brownstein, Communications & Marketing Advisor
The use of technology has revolutionized operations and methods of performance for businesses while simultaneously providing competitive advantages and economic opportunities.1 Using practice information management software (PIMS) has the potential to streamline processes by reducing operating costs, improving the communication process, and boosting productivity.1 Veterinary practices can use PIMS programs to make practicing medicine more convenient and efficient as well. Within the last decade, the field of PIMS options has grown exponentially. So, how do you decide which program is the best fit for your practice? This article is meant to provide veterinarians with an overview of the major PIMS options available to their practices and the benefits they potentially bring to the table.
The demand for veterinary services has skyrocketed since COVID-19.2 Increased demand for services combined with a shortage of veterinarians, wide-spread burnout, and staffing challenges, has created a near-perfect storm for the veterinary industry. At the same time, the previously mentioned variables are also partially responsible for the ongoing advancement of veterinary-specific software.3 Given the state of the industry, the need to maximize productivity and efficiency has arguably never been greater. Historically, technology has been a massive driver of transformation in the industry,4 and the future will, in all likelihood, continue this trend.
Before Cornerstone and Avimark, there was PSI, one of, if not the earliest veterinary-specific programs. It most notably offered a primitive computerized SOAP, reminder system, and receipting. Since then, the selection of veterinary programs, and now applications in addition to the features they offer, has thankfully increased. Globally, and through our own research, we would conservatively estimate there are currently over a hundred veterinary-specific programs and applications on the market. Granted, not all of these programs and applications are complete and all-inclusive platforms, and many of them exist within niche spaces to meet the associated demands of said niches. From generalists to specialists, a modern and efficient PIMS system that compliments a practice’s unique personality is an increasingly crucial tool. Through over a month of careful research, we personally test-drove (when able) the major PIMS options available on the market in North America. Join us as we compare the notable options and offer a comprehensive guide on how to pick the best product suited for your hospital’s unique needs.
Finding the Virtual Glass Slipper
Before we dive too deep into the various PIMS options, we would recommend asking the following practice-specific considerations. Is the program financially feasible? Regardless of how helpful implementing a new PIMS program would be to your day-to-day activities, it’s not going to be beneficial in the end if your practice can’t afford it. Is the program able to be integrated with any other current programs or vendors? Many PIMS programs can automatically port diagnostic results and inventory supplies in real time, so it’s important to consider whether these aspects of your practice are able to talk to each other seamlessly. While you may be enamored with one program it’s also important to compare the pros and cons with other options. The veterinary PIMS market is arguably crowded, so make sure you are taking every aspect into consideration. You will want to ask yourself whether the seller is a good fit for your practice overall. When it comes to partnering with a PIMS supplier, the program itself is, at times, just the tip of the iceberg. It will be important to make sure your practice and the seller are compatible as well. For example, if your practice is open 24/7 does the PIMS supplier offer 24/7 customer support? If not, you may want to reconsider. Lastly, you may want to contemplate whether the program is compatible with your staff’s personalities. If you have an associate that is easily intimidated by technology, opting for a program that has a more simplistic layout may be beneficial. If you are an equine practitioner and often find yourself without an internet connection, you may want to look into a cloud-based program that automatically updates when internet connectivity resumes. Now that you are prepared to ask the right questions, there are just a few more trends to consider.
- Cloud-Based programs are the future in our opinion. Often accessible anywhere, these programs mean less money invested in hardware, improved live collaboration amongst staff, improved data security (generally), automatic software updates, mobility, and scalability. In today’s fast-paced world, we highly recommend considering a cloud-based PIMS.
- Veterinary phone applications are our prediction for the next big trend. If you haven’t noticed as of late, the world is increasingly on the move, and working with a phone application has the potential to save time and make your job more convenient. Some veterinary PIMS programs currently offer mobile access and integration with practice computers.
- Telemedicine has become extremely relevant given the recent pandemic. Many of the practice management programs have telemedicine capability, providing a great way to accommodate clients and staff who would prefer to practice social distancing.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the major available options. All of the programs that we are about to discuss are capable of doing the following: appointment scheduling, billing and invoicing, confirmation/reminders, have 24/7 customer support, and are cloud-based.
We have also included a Capterra rating for each program. Capterra is a software review site openly viewable by the public where reviews are posted by real buyers and validated. Vendors cannot influence these reviews in any way.
- DaySmart Vet (Formerly Vetter):
Pricing: Starting at $99 per month for one user and up to $399 per month for 15 users.
Capterra Rating: 4.6 stars out of 5.0
Pros: From inquiry to demonstration, DaySmart Vet stood out as an impressively intuitive and customizable product. The software was originally created for the brother of Vetter’s founder, a veterinarian. It most notably allows for live SOAP collaboration amongst users, meaning multiple people can work on one SOAP if the practice would like. The design is simple and modern. DaySmart Vet’s customer service is 24/7 and notoriously excellent across multiple practice review sources. Based on our research, the development team behind the platform is very responsive to client suggestions.
DaySmart Vet recently released their PetCare client-facing phone application which pet owners can use to schedule appointments, view medical records and invoices, and much more. The phone application is an additional $99/month for clinics. That being said, it’s the minor details about this program that excited us the most. From the automated cage card creation to the Google Maps interface for mobile practices, DaySmart Vet was clearly made with a high-level firsthand understanding of the veterinary industry. One significant highlight about this program is the lack of a contract requirement.
Cons: Some common complaints about DaySmart Vet include that its reminder system can be a bit difficult to use and that the program lacks substantial reporting capabilities.
Pricing: Starting at $140 per month for 1-2 users and up to $500 for 31+ users.
Capterra Rating: 4.3 stars out of 5.0
Pros: NaVetor’s smooth integration with diagnostics companies like IDEXX and Petlink are a favorite amongst many clinics. The program’s developers are very receptive and have been known to implement customer suggestions into the product. Pricing is extremely attractive when compared to other options. The interface is attractive, modern, and cohesive from start to finish. NaVetor is impressively easy to navigate and its list of integrations are substantial and constantly growing. The company also consistently receives praise for its customer service.
Cons: Like many other PIMS options, NaVetor is click-heavy, and many other reviews seem to agree that there are at times too many steps to a single task such as processing payment for a customer. User interface is definitely geared more towards veterinarians and not technicians or other staff.
- Covetrus Pulse (Formerly eVetPractice):
Pricing: Pricing varies based off many variables. We would recommend calling Covetrus Pulse so that they can provide pricing based off the specifics of your practice.
Capterra Rating: 4.2 stars out of 5.0
Pros: If you are looking for a PIMS option that has a massive number of features, then look no further. Covetrus Pulse puts all applications and integrations front and center in one place, saving you time and money. The program has a great task dashboard to improve organization and boost productivity. Covetrus Pulse is generally recognized as an approachable program that is friendly towards users who do not consider themselves tech-savvy. As a result, onboarding for this program is generally short and easy.
Cons: Many people have sited issues with the program’s practice management reporting function which can be complicated and a bit nonsensical. Additional comments include the sheer number of mouse-clicks it can sometimes take to work through tasks. Lastly, many users have cited a lack of customer-suggested edits.
- Hippo Manager:
Pricing: Starting at $119 per month for 1 user.
Capterra Rating: 4.0 stars out of 5.0
Pros: Hippo Manager is reportedly easy to learn and gets a lot of love from clinics for that reason. If you are easily overwhelmed by the other PIMS out there, this may be the software for you. Their tech support is also quite popular according to many verified reviews. If you checked out Hippo Manager sometime in the past, it may be worth revisiting as the program is constantly being updated.
Cons: Unfortunately, Hippo Manager’s team has put new subscriptions on pause for the remainder of the year as they are transitioning into Hippo 2.0. Like many others, Hippo Manager’s reporting capabilities have been frequently cited as an area that could use improvement.
Pricing: One-time fee of $300 per payment terminal and $1,000 for data migration. Then, a per transaction fee from 1.39%-2.69% depending on the payment method.
Capterra Rating: 5.0 stars out of 5.0
Pros: Rhapsody is lesser known but does have some great features, and has been recently implemented into hundreds of NVA practices. This PIMS program does not utilize tabs, making browsing much less cluttered. The program is easy to set up, and the company boasts it has gotten practices up and running in just 48 hours. Rhapsody is constantly producing updates to improve the product, so if you have an issue or suggestion there is a higher chance that it will be addressed. Rhapsody launched in 2019 but has the lowest number of negative reviews. Rhapsody also has an add-on application called Boop, which integrates with Zoom for telemedicine. Our favorite feature from rhapsody is its check-in kiosk function. Through Rhapsody’s check-in software, customers can confirm they are ready for their appointment, fill out any necessary paperwork, confirm account information, and much more. This lightens the load for your front desk team.
Cons: Their customer support team is not 24/7 yet, so if you have overnight services you may need to look elsewhere. The program also does not have a color-coding system, which can be problematic for clinics that typically like to color-code. The program also used to have notable connectivity issues, although, those have reportedly been fixed.
Return on Investment (ROI):
Almost all veterinary PIMS options have substantial features, but they are not helpful in your day-to-day service if practices do not know how to use them. It’s important to put the features you are paying for to work in order to maximize your investment. A study done in 2021 where an entire clinical staff was trained in the software proved that the right PIMS can help boost productivity through automation, and operational efficiency was boosted by 46%.5
The vast majority of veterinary PIMS programs on the market today have the same key features such as inventory tracking, electronic medical records, reporting and analytics, invoices and accounting, and appointment scheduling. The key to selecting your program is determining which product and seller are a good fit for your unique practice. Implementing a new PIMS system is a commitment, from the financial investment itself to the time spent onboarding your staff, so it’s important to partner up with the right seller-product combo. Make sure you figure out your specific priorities and then do your homework. You should also be ready to test drive every PIMS program that interests you. Demonstrations are great for a quick introduction, but familiarizing yourself through actual interaction will make a huge difference in understanding the product itself and making the best choice.
- Kiradoo, G. (2021). Analysis of Influential Role of Digital Transformation in Enhancing Effective Business Management and Operations. Turkish Journal of Physiotherapy Rehabilitation, 32(2), 557-560.
- Zhang, S. (2022, July 6). The Great Veterinary Shortage. The Atlantic. Retrieved November 12, 2022, from https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2022/07/not-enough-veterinarians-animals/661497/
- (2022, August 26). The ultimate list of veterinary software with a downloadable checklist. Vetstoria. Retrieved November 12, 2022, from https://www.vetstoria.com/blog/the-ultimate-list-of-veterinary-software/
- Larkin, M. (2020, December 3). Pivot or perish: Veterinary leaders talk industry trends. American Veterinary Medical Association. Retrieved November 12, 2022, from https://www.avma.org/javma-news/2020-12-15/pivot-or-perish-veterinary-leaders-talk-industry-trends
- Veterinary Practice Management System Development. Rishabh Software. (2021, June 15). Retrieved November 14, 2022, from https://www.rishabhsoft.com/blog/veterinary-practice-management-software-development