What Makes A Veterinary Hospital Diagnostically & Workflow Efficient?

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What Makes A Veterinary Hospital Diagnostically & Workflow Efficient?



One of the things I have learned in the past 15 years as a vet and 9 years before that as a tech is that the number 1 thing a hospital can do to market itself is just be as right as possible in the shortest amount of time and just let the cards fall where they may. There is no better marketing than with efficient and accurate results both diagnostically and from a treatment standpoint. Waiting for a sick patient to get better while it sits in a cage kills a practice as well as compromises a patient that may need surgery or chemotherapy to survive its illness.

If rads were this straightforward we wouldn’t need ultrasound and likely not much of our brains either not to mention the well developed art of veterinary medicine that helps us make that gut feeling decision day in and day out. These 2 ultrasound images for example are 2 examples of patients that sat in a cage without a dx for 3-4 days and didn’t get any better. 10 minutes after the sonogram the case was going where it needed to…surgery in both cases with as resectable pheochromocytoma to the left and a common bile duct stone on the right. These were both sick patients when they presented. Had the “It’s sick, needs a scan” concept been implemented it would have meant surgery that day or the next day for both. You do the reasoning on how you would like to have the conversation with the owner of these patient in the former issue, or the latter. I will take the latter sick=scan scenario up front. Then do the math regarding the difference in economic employment by the owner….then do the emotional employment math and you see where I am going with this…..

Knowing as much as possible from the inside out and pairing it with traditional prelim information propels a practice. The owners get accurate answers faster and the patient has a solid and repeatable solution faster……the “24-hour rule to sick patients.” Get them diagnostically and therapeutically oriented within 24 hours and your practice will thrive. It is that simple and I will carry this concept to the grave with me because it is what is right for veterinary medicine and medicine as? a whole…diagnostic efficiency is a more global concept that encompasses this issue.

What I would like to know from the community is, “What are the things that make your facility, or the facilities that you consult for, more diagnostically efficient?”

This way we can all benefit. I have my long list of Dx efficiency concepts based on the 250 clients in New Jersey, a growing worldwide community, as well as what I here from colleagues on the lecture circuit. But what you bring to this table will certainly support or refute or refine what I think and what SonoPath.com is built upon in this foundation concept and the community can therefore benefit and we all get better….which is just fun I think.

So tell me your thoughts on this and bullet point your top 5 Diagnostic efficiency concepts in practice… of course besides ultrasound:)



The 24-hour rule, that one little phrase, encompasses it all. Here are some guidelines I have always believed in to accomplish this:

– Take control of how you want your day to go, don’t just be reactionary. Get your procedures done efficiently, in a timely manner, and completely because there is always something unexpected that will walk in the door later!
– Leverage the staff. Each member should perform their duties at the highest level they are capable of. For example Drs should not do labwork or radiographic procedures or induce anesthesia (they are paid to order these procedures, diagnose and create treatment plans); techs should organize and perform these procedures, and assistants depending on their skill level and state laws should assist the techs.
– Consider hiring more techs before hiring another doctor. Diagnose what your hospital really needs. If you want to increase profitability by doing more in house lab procedures, more dental procedures, instituting training/day care, or a more careful monitoring program for those pets with chronic illnesses, you need qualified and motivated techs not another doctor. If your doctors are maxed out and you want to do more surgery or add appointment hours, then hire another doctor (and maybe also techs to assist!).
– Don’t make diagnostic and treatment decisions for the owner. Assume that if they are concerned enough to bring their pet in, they are anxious for the quickest answer and the start to a resolution.
– Hire motivated staff at all levels, so each person can support the others to the max and each can bring their own unique contributions.

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