At its best, practice management software saves you time, enables better client compliance, and ultimately leads to more revenue and better patient care. As one respondent to The 2005 Veterinary Economics Software Users' Survey says, "It's convenient, easy to use, and cuts down on the paperwork and repetitive nature of veterinary medicine."
"Software is my least-expensive employee, and the one that complains the least," another respondent says. "It does a lot of time-consuming busywork."
And another says, "Our services are standardized by using the software. We are far less likely to leave out a necessary service."
With so many pluses, it's no wonder that nine out of every ten respondents to the survey say they use practice management software. And more than 50 percent of respondents not using software plan to install a system in the next five years.
Some more key findings from your colleagues:
- Eighty-five percent increased their technology budgets in the past five years. About half budgeted $5,000 or more for hardware and software during that time period.
- Eighty-five percent of respondents say they're satisfied or very satisfied with their software.
- Sixty-three percent feel technology has relieved their workload.
Of course, your key issue is finding the software system that best meets your needs. To find out what features each product offers, Veterinary Economics editors surveyed manufacturers. More than 40 software manufacturers received our questionnaire and 23 responded. (See Figure 1 for a list of companies, products, and pricing. See Figures 2, 3, and 4 that follow for comparisons of system features, capabilities, and compatibility.)
Solution: You know you need to replace your software when...
Making a decision
"While cost is obviously a factor, the most critical issue is choosing software that gives you and your practice team the tools you need," says consultant Sharon Brenneman, owner of InfoSupport Inc. in Lima, Ohio. "You must spend the time and money it takes to identify and buy the software that'll make your team more efficient and accurate."
One way to learn more about the software you're considering is to talk with practice teams that use the product. Find out what they like and don't like about the software, and ask about their relationships with the manufacturers. Did they have a positive experience? How was the training? Are they pleased with the support services?
Figure 1 The products
Also consider the manufacturer's profile and staying power. Brenneman suggests asking your sales representative these questions: