Staying in Front of the Client via PIMS
PIMS can help veterinary clinics increase compliance, improve customer experience for pet owners and retain their pharmacy business amid increasing competition from online retailers.
With so many more competitors in the marketplace, keeping income in-house while creating a convenient experience for clients has never been more important for veterinary practices. Especially when it comes to the pharmacy.
Ying Chen, chief customer officer, Covetrus, said that with the 24/7 accessibility of email and e-commerce for nearly every pet parent, timing is critical now more than ever for veterinary clinics to proactively send their online prescription recommendations to their clients as soon as possible. “Once a prescription is proactively prescribed by their veterinarian, pet owners simply have to click their email and check out, making the process easy and convenient,” Chen said. “And it takes any guesswork away from the pet owner because they have the exact recommended item in their email after the visit. Creating a prescription recommendation as soon as possible not only contributes to better compliance outcomes but gives veterinary practices a chance to compete against other online retailers.”
Jenafer Pulmano, practice manager for Pensacola, Florida-based Pine Meadow Veterinary Clinic, said having an integrated prescription workflow allows clinic staff to send prescription recommendations while in the room or on the phone with the client. “Because the Covetrus Prescription Management Platform integrates with our PMS, we are able to access it directly through the patient file, request/recommend a prescription and click a button,” she said. “The notes are auto-populated in the patient file without us having to toggle back and forth between our online pharmacy and practice management software.”
Prior to having an integrated workflow with the Covetrus Prescription Management Platform, the process was more cumbersome. The clinic would ask the client to request a prescription, then received the notification, and authorized it by logging into the pharmacy program. There were still more steps. From there, someone on the clinic staff then had to go back into the patient file and manually document that they had authorized the Rx through the pharmacy. “Our doctors never used it – it was all my front desk staff,” Pulmano said. “This integrated workflow makes it much easier now to engage our doctors in the process which I think has led to a large part of our success.”
Townley Chattman, practice manager for Calera, Alabama-based MAC Animal Hospital, said before they converted to their current PIMS there was no integrated way to manage prescriptions that were filled externally without a lot of manual intervention. “Since we may have provided approval for a prescription previously, we still had no real way to confirm that the person actually purchased the prescribed medication.” Having the prescription process integrated allows MAC Clinic to have accurate and up-to-date records for what a patient has been prescribed as well as what they have actually purchased.
Chen said an integrated prescription experience saves the most important asset at the practice – staff time. The integration offers flexibility, allowing practices to use a similar workflow that is used when prescribing from their in-clinic inventory, eliminating the needs to toggle between two platforms or learn new workflows. Practices gain efficiency with the proactive prescribing integration in several ways:
- Reduction in steps to create a prescription. “We have reduced the number of steps from 10 to 4, just by integrating the proactive prescribing feature into the software.”
- No longer entering redundant/duplicate data. Client and patient information are sent directly from the PIMS record.
- Ability to search the full prescription product catalog, using a smart filterable search, without leaving the PIMS.
- Less handoff between practice staff, creating better workflow management within the practice, making it easier to create the script while in the exam room.
- No change to the client experience of receiving prescription recommendations via email to purchase on the practice’s online storefront.
Timing is important when it comes to proactively recommending the right medication because, simply, clients can forget. “Many times the prescriptions that are needed for animals are time sensitive and either need to be administered right away or at regular intervals,” said Chattman. “Having the online pharmacy not only deliver quickly, but allow auto-shipping, I believe has definitely increased adherence to monthly and lifelong medications.”
Additionally, since COVID, the online pharmacy has been very helpful with elderly or shut-in clients that do not leave their houses unless it’s absolutely necessary, Chattman said. Being able to proactively write a prescription for a medication that an owner may not be ready to pull the trigger on allows allows them the opportunity to order later from home, “yet we have already managed their need,” she said. “This prevents us from having to have a call back later when/if the owner decides that they changed their mind.”
“As soon as a pet owner leaves the practice, the visit is over, and what was said in the room has often been forgotten and they’re moving on to the next thing in life,” said Pulmano. “And if they remember they need prevention for their pet, they go home and search the internet, with online retailers often being the most apparent choice for them in their search. With proactive prescribing through the Covetrus Prescription Management Platform, if they choose not to purchase prevention while at the clinic, then there’s an email sitting in their inbox as a reminder with a little blue button that says ‘Order.’”
Missing a dosage on some prescriptions can leave a gap in protection for the patient, and as a result, make them susceptible to the very thing veterinarians are trying to prevent and/or treat, Chattman said. Educating pet owners as early as possible with what is needed to care for their animals is important to ensure proper care of the animal. “Prevention in particular can be fairly expensive and preparing clients for that is important.”
A matter of patient care
Bottom line: clients need to know they have a trusted veterinary resource for their pets’ medications, Pulmano said. “With Covetrus Prescription Management Platform, they still receive the rebates that the various companies offer, special promotions by the Covetrus Prescription Management Platform and products they know are backed by a manufacturer guarantee,” she said. “They won’t receive a product that has been sold to another online pharmacy that came from who knows where. If clients go home and go down the rabbit hole of online pharmacies, there’s no telling what they’ll end up with. It’s a matter of patient care. We can take one more step to ensure pets are getting the medications they need, even if the client doesn’t purchase them in the clinic.”
For the most part, the online pharmacy remains competitively priced against the other online retailers for which MAC Clinic competes, Chattman said. “As a result, we’re able to convince most customers that having all their needs met through our online store is advantageous for some of the reasons we mentioned already: It ensures complete medical records as it’s integrated into their pet’s medical record, it supports local business, it assures that the product is from a trusted vendor, it’s competitive, and sometimes it has better prices than other retailers.”
Veterinarians are in their profession because they want to help, fix, care, and cure animals, Chen said. They go through extensive schooling and when they graduate, they know a lot; but what often gets overlooked is the importance of the business basics such as making a website or marketing to clients. Online retailers have got that down to a science because of their big budgets, Chen said. It can be difficult for a small-town veterinarian to compete with the marketing strategies of such large companies. “Our platform allows veterinarians to offer the same product, similar convenience, and discounts that consumers are searching for.”
Photo credit: istockphoto.com/Aliaksandr Zadoryn