When I had my clinic in 2006 I started with paper notes. We’ve advanced a lot since then, and are lucky enough to have a vast array of software at our disposal to make life easier. The benefit of good software is that it saves you time, prevents you from losing information, is accessible on the road (great for mobile Vetrehabbers) and helps you stay organised.
Whoopee! No more filing!
However, when it comes to software, one size does not fit all. You need to look at what your needs are and find a software that works for you. Your choice will depend on what treatments you do, whether you are mobile or brick and mortar, whether you do hydrotherapy and whether or not you need to integrate your software with other software you’re currently using, such as accounting software.
What does your vet rehab practice need from software?
After doing a bit of research, I created a list of questions we should be asking when choosing software for our practices.
Is it cloud based?
This is important because if information is stored in the cloud, you can log in from any device to access your notes and information. If it’s not cloud based, you can use the software on only one device, or have a dedicated server. For us, I think this issue is important. It needs to be cloud based.
The cloud gives us a level of security; information on the cloud cannot be lost. You may lose your computer, but you will never lose your data. If you are not using cloud-based software, it is really important that you back up daily so that should something happen to your device (a virus, it gets stolen) you will have access to most of the content.
If it’s not cloud based, the only benefit is that you don’t need an internet connection to run it.
Does it have an app?
An app is useful for the mobile Vetrehabber, as you can use it on your phone while out or on an iPad in a clinic. Having to log in on an internet browser is a little more cumbersome. For me, this aspect is not a deal breaker, but nice to have. I recently learned a really cool tip on how to add an icon to your home screen on your phone. With an icon linked to a url, you can easily log in to your software. It’ll be even quicker if you enable face recognition.
Here’s how to do it:
Does it invoice?
This aspect is important if you don’t already have accounting software that invoices for you. I like the idea of having everything in one place. Trying to integrate software is tricky and mistakes can happen. Also, having a single software is better when you’re speaking to a client and want to see everything about them right there on one screen.
Can it take notes and can you annotate the diagrams?
Can you load your own diagrams? A lot of the software Vetrehabbers are using pertains to humans, not animals, with the diagrams showing the human body and not animal bodies. Some software gives you the option to load your own diagrams. If you choose a software that does not have animal diagrams, you really must be able to upload your own. This makes life a lot easier.
Does the software create reports to send to the referral vet?
This one is huge for me. Vet reports take up a lot of our time, and we know how important they are for our referral relationships. (In other words, you must do them!). So if there is any software that can help me do a report, that’s the one I am going to get.
This brings me to an important point: When we’re considering software, we need to be aware of what our time is worth. If we charge $80 for an hour’s consult, that means our time per minute is worth $1 and 33 cents. If a software saves me thirty minutes a week, that’s $172 a month. Compare that to the monthly cost of the software – probably around $50 a month. It’s a no brainer. The software is worth it!
Can it integrate with payment gateways?
This one really depends on how your practice accepts payment. There are so many different payment methods around the world, making it tricky to offer streamlined advice here. The best way to find out which payment method is best for you is to see which are compatible with the software you have chosen. Examples are Xero, Square, PayPal, Stripe and Apply Pay.
Can it be used to book appointments?
This is a nice-to-have, and there are all sorts of software options that may be used separately for this. However, it’s a bonus to have all bookings in one place. Some therapists like to book their own appointments, but doing so takes time. Some software will allow the operator, but not the client, to book. Some Vetrehabbers offer the first consultation online, and then book follow-ups on behalf of the client. You need to see what works best for you.
Does it have a schedule?
We all like to be organised, and it’s great to have software that will both book the appointments and create a schedule. It’s great to see at one glance what our week ahead looks like.
Think long term
So, there is a lot to think about. Read through the points above and circle the features that are important to you. I also encourage you to think about where you are going with your practice; in other words, setting your clinic up for growth.
If you plan to grow and expand, will your software accommodate the expansion? It’s really not worth using software that works now but will be outgrown in one year. Also, it might be cost effective now, because software costs are calculated per user, but as you add team members, the price may well become exorbitant.
Moving from one software to another is an absolute pain, and sometimes not that easy (😉. They make it that way on purpose.) So rather go for the software that can accommodate your growth, even if it’s a little more expensive.
Think value for money, not cost
When choosing software, we often look at the price and think, ‘That’s way too expensive!’ I want you to look at it another way. Getting great software can save you loads of time. I mentioned this earlier when discussing the value of our time per minute.
How much time are you spending on your admin, and could your software help? Would that expensive software you’re afraid of committing to save you the cost of an entire admin person? Or perhaps the software will save your admin person loads of time and you would only need to pay them for two hours a week instead of four. We need to think about all of this.
The value of simplifying the process
Is it going to make your life easier? What is that worth to you? Our practices can be really busy, and by making things simpler, software can get us working more efficiently and cost effectively. We may also have more time and energy to provide our clients with a better customer experience – and our customers’ experience is vital for the growth of our practice. When clients have a great customer experience, they refer friends and colleagues. Who would have thought the type of software you choose could affect your word of mouth? And yet this is what it comes down to.
You want to reduce friction in your practice wherever you can, for you and your systems, and also for your clients. Online booking systems, SMS reminders, streamlined invoicing and an easy payment system are all potential areas where you can excel in giving customers a great, easy, friendly, streamlined experience.
The most important thing is that the software needs to make your practice better. It needs to be better for you, for your team and for your clients, giving them a better customer experience. When you get the right software for you, it will be worth the expense.
You also need to accept that you may never get the perfect software – some compromise is almost inevitable. Decide what your priorities are in terms of time and effort saved, and make a choice that is best tailored to your practice.
The top five Software options available for Vet Rehab Therapists
Having looked at loads of software options, I chose the five most recommended by Vetrehabbers, and the ones I think most suited to our profession. They are:
Others that may suit you but were not included in my top five are:
- Vetter (now called Day Smart Vet)
- iPoint Touch
- HealthKit (now called Halaxy)
- Provet Cloud
For note taking only
Having selected the five most recommended by Vetrehabbers, I played around on all five to gain a feel for their functionality in our field. They are all very different. Some are a lot more visually pleasing than others, but I tried not to let looks sway me – functionality is what is important in the end, not how pretty it is.
Here follows my personal take on the top five, divided into two categories – best for mobile Vetrehabbers, and best for brick and mortar Vetrehabbers. I’ve added one that is best for note taking, and finally I make a judgement call on what I consider the best overall software for Vetrehabbers.
Best software for mobile Vetrehabbers
First, I suggest you invest in an iPad that can carry a sim card, and an air pencil. That way you are not limited by internet receptivity and can work both on and offline. Of all the people in your team, you are the one with the least time for admin, so the more time you can save, the better.
Each is suited to different scenarios. WriteUpp comes in at a lower price point at $24 a month and is great for those who are just starting out and have to keep expenses low (for now).
AcuroVet at $69 per user is the most expensive of the software I looked at, but it has great features, being a veterinary-based software that ticks almost all the boxes. The biggest benefit for me is that it is cloud based and has a web application that you can use whether or not you’re in an internet reception area; you write your notes and they appear as soon as you’re back in reception. It also creates vet reports – a huge benefit, as discussed above.
I recommend AcuroVet if you are planning on staying mobile, mainly because of what you get for the money. It’s cost effective and you can make it work for you. The price increases every time you add a user, and the increase is substantial, so it’s best suited to the lone operator. Other software would be more cost effective for larger teams or if you’re planning to expand.
Best software for brick and mortar practices
SHARC. This one has all the features you’ll need. They are working on allowing clients to book themselves directly, which will save you even more time. The only thing they don’t have is an app, but as I said, for me this is not a deal breaker. You can add an icon to your home screen as a shortcut, enabling you to log in quickly. SHARC has the added benefit of being the only software made for small animal Vetrehabbers. Every thought has gone into what will make your life easier. If you do acupuncture, you can load your own diagrams. And every update they make is especially for you – unlike with other software, where the updates might not benefit you at all.
Best software for taking notes (only)
If you just want a software to take notes, then I suggest Scribenote. Uploading documentation, photos, radiographs, etc. is all easily done with a few clicks. It also works from your phone, which is handy. It’s really clean and simple to use and costs $29 per month.
While Scribenote is limited to note-taking, I really like it and think it’s one we should keep an eye on. They offer great customer service and will probably be expanding their features over the next few years.
Best overall software for every Vetrehabber and size of practice
As you can see, all the software has different strengths, and there were pros on cons for all. However, my mission was to select one that best serves Vetrehabbers. My choice is …
Once you get this software, you will never outgrow it or need to upgrade. It has everything a Vetrehabber needs, with the automated vet reports being its biggest plus, for me. It can also create automatic veterinary consent forms. I love that you can upload diagrams and annotate them and, for hydrotherapy practitioners, you’re able to track your water testing. On top of all that, it is really cost effective for larger teams, and they have a 30 day free trial period. You can sign up here.
In the end, however, you will need to test the software yourself. They all have a free trial period, except for Jane App, which offers a demo. I suggest you write down what you are looking for in software, taking account of your five-year goals and how you think your practice may grow.
Lastly, a software to look out for is Equipro. They have just launched it and its designed especially for equine Vetrehabbers. It ticks all the boxes except that it is not yet cloud based, but they plan on adding this feature in the next two years. Watch this space!
Disclaimer: Some of the links in this blog are affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click the link and sign up. However, I assure you that I only affiliate to companies which I feel offer real benefits to you, the Vetrehabber. The research and writing of these blogs takes hours and hours, and this way, I get a small payment for my time.
So – if you’re happy for me to get a commission, please click the links and find out more. (But you can always find them without my links, too!)