Dr. Hans Bernhard of Holly Springs Veterinary Hospital in Holly Springs, NC was constantly dealing with the same issue that many of us face in our work and personal lives – a perpetually full inbox. He was constantly trying to find a way to work through the seemingly endless supply of emails and text messages from pet parents that had medical questions pertaining to their animals. This also caused some confusion and inefficiencies with the staff when it came to recordkeeping and follow-up, and that was on top of the staff’s stress-inducingly high call traffic. In order to get a handle on this growing issue, Dr. Bernhard decided to utilize the Otto veterinary software platform to help get a handle on his client communication.
COVID-19 Caused Change
Dr. Bernhard regularly considered utilizing veterinary technology solutions to be more accommodating to Holly Springs Veterinary Hospital’s pet parents, but there was no real urgency to adjust their normal workflow until the COVID-19 pandemic led to widespread shutdowns. Prior to the pandemic, he had not so much as even talked with a family member using a free online video conferencing platform much less tried to perform some kind of telemedicine consultation. While this caused an initial roadblock and some hesitancy from him and his team, he knew that they would have to embrace more technology-based solutions in order to provide care to their clientele during the pandemic and thereafter.
Specifically, pet parents wanted an increased ability to text directly with the veterinary staff in order to receive care for their animals. This desired functionality only increased with the mandated shutdowns and social distancing regulations, and Dr. Bernhard knew they didn’t have an immediate solution for that issue. “We kept getting requests from pet parents to just be able to text us questions directly, but we just didn’t have a process in place that could handle that efficiently at the time,” Dr. Bernhard said. “The pet parents wanted to send us pictures and videos, but it was too hard to process all of the requests in a way that wouldn’t overwhelm us as a staff.”
The staff at Holly Springs Veterinary Hospital struggled to keep an efficient workflow. Dr. Bernhard said that, “there just wasn’t a great way for us to get the right eyes of the right staff member on the right part of the consultation at the right time. We knew we had to come up with a better way to funnel those communications, keep records, care for the patient, and be able to charge for it as well.” Luckily for Dr. Bernhard and his team, they chose the right veterinary technology platform to help them with that.
No More Waiting on Hold
When the pandemic hit in full force, Dr. Bernhard knew that he and his staff could spend valuable time integrating multiple technology solutions. For that reason, he decided to add Otto as an all-in-one veterinary client communication technology. From the very beginning, his expectation was that Otto would drive his client communication away from his email and text inbox to be easily managed within the platform. Additionally, he wanted to make sure that his pet parents knew that they could still get care for their animals from his clinic regardless of the government-mandated stay-at-home orders.
One of the immediate improvements that they saw as a hospital was how smooth the clinic-to-pet-parent communication got. “Most of our pet parents are tech-savvy, so they really do appreciate how easy it is for them to communicate directly with our staff using their smartphones,” Dr. Berhard said. “As opposed to trying to communicate with us via email or text and just getting lost in our crazy inboxes, they’re now able to use the Otto platform to get the right information to and from the clinic easily.” Dr. Bernhard and his team have been able to utilize the Otto platform to streamline their communication to the benefit of the staff and the pet parents.
“We have been able to considerably decrease our call volume using the Otto platform,” Dr. Bernhard said. “It is now much easier on our front desk to help clients, and our pet owners aren’t stuck on hold for 15 minutes just to pay their bill anymore. It’s just so much smoother for everyone now.”
There was another tremendous benefit that Dr. Bernhard and his staff experienced that they were not expecting: a significant reduction in call traffic and increase in staff time savings. The Otto platform not only allows for direct communication between the veterinary staff and the pet parents; it also allows you the ability to send clinic intake forms, quickly check the animal in for a curbside appointment, pay your bill securely over the phone, and more. “We have been able to considerably decrease our call volume using the Otto platform,” Dr. Bernhard said. “It is now much easier on our front desk to help clients, and our pet owners aren’t stuck on hold for 15 minutes just to pay their bill anymore. It’s just so much smoother for everyone now.”
Additionally, Dr. Bernhard and his staff have truly enjoyed the Otto team helping them figure out the best way for their platform to streamline Holly Springs Veterinary Hospital’s workflow. “Otto has been incredibly responsive any time we ask for help or even when we have an idea to improve the platform’s overall functionality for us and other clinics… It’s been a truly collaborative experience, and we appreciate that.”
Simplicity is the Key
When asked about the business results that Holly Springs Veterinary Hospital has experienced since adding the Televet platform, Dr. Bernhard simply responded, “everything is simpler now.” Using the Otto platform allows the pressure to be taken off the front desk because the communication workflow between the hospital and the pet parents is more efficient and effective. Furthermore, the hospital is now able to realize revenue from consults that they were previously giving away for free.
Moreover, Dr. Bernhard and his team have figured out ways for specific types of consults to be more beneficially resolved using veterinary telemedicine consultations as opposed to in-hospital consultations. Specifically, quality of life and behavioral issues with animals are essentially being taken care of while the animal and the pet parents can remain in the comfort of their own homes. “For a lot of animals, the clinical environment can be a stressful one,” Dr. Bernhard said. “We found out early on that we could use the Otto platform to communicate with the pet owners about the quality of life and/or behavioral issues they’re having with their pets without getting our hands on the patient in the high-stress environment of the clinic.”
The Otto platform has also extended the reach that the hospital has when it comes to communicating with dutiful pet parents. Specifically, Dr. Bernhard recalls a story that happened with one of his patients while the whole family was out of town: “We have a family that travels back and forth between Holly Springs and the coast fairly regularly. This one time when they were on the coast, they had an emergency situation come up with their dog, and they took it to the nearest emergency hospital. They received a proposed care plan from the doc that they saw, but they wanted a second opinion from a vet that actually knew their dog. So, they contacted me through the Otto platform, and I was able to do the consultation and give them a second opinion while they were relaxing in their beach house. They were incredibly appreciative that they had a way to contact us.”
As they look forward to the future, Dr. Bernhard and the Holly Springs Veterinary Hospital team plan to expand how they use the Otto platform as the overall functionality of the platform expands. Ultimately, they want to continue to engage their clientele in ways that help to endear them to the pet parents and allow them the ability to deliver a tremendous level of care to their patients.