4 Reasons Vet Clinics Need Queue Management Systems
The number of pet owners continues to grow. Learn how your vet clinic can meet the needs of this ongoing spike with a queue management system.
Wed Nov 16 2022 • 6 min read
Veterinary clinics and practices have always been busy, but chances are your practice has seen an uptick in patient volume over the past few years. That’s because pet ownership is on the rise, having seen a major spike during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Managing patient flow is already a complex task. Going to the vet can be a stressful experience for some of your furry patients, and as a result, their humans. And with a higher volume of patients and pet owners visiting your office or clinic, the pressure to have a stress-free, smooth intake and service process has never been higher.
Without a proper system in place, you run the risk of long wait times, which is frustrating not only for patients and pet owners, but can also become a burden on staff. Even worse, unnecessary delays can be detrimental to the health of the animals that need care. A queue management system can help to alleviate these vet clinic waiting room issues.
These days, a pen and clipboard simply won't cut it. Your clinic needs a tech-first solution. Here are four reasons your vet clinic could benefit from a queue management system.
#1 Growing demand and longer wait times at veterinary clinics
There are a number of reasons your vet clinic or practice may be experiencing an increased strain on your resources, chief of which is that there are simply more pets out there.
According to the Washington Post, in the U.S. alone, nearly 1 in 5 households (more than 23 million) adopted a pet during the pandemic. What’s more, an ASPCA survey found that an overwhelming majority of dogs and cats acquired during the pandemic are still in their homes (thankfully). So, there are more pets (and pet owners) out there, and that means more patients on a day-to-day basis.
On the whole, the veterinary industry has not been able to keep up with this growth in patient volume when it comes to staffing (more on this point in a little bit). The result: greater demand for the same amount of resources, which means longer wait times.
The best way to reduce long wait times is to increase your service capacity. But that can be costly – think about hiring additional staff, purchasing more equipment, increasing your office space, etc. Instead, using a queue management system like Waitwhile is a cost-effective way to bring key efficiencies to your vet operations, allowing you to serve more patients in the same amount of time.
What is queue management?
This digital approach will enable you to:
- Run virtual waitlists and allow appointment scheduling in one place
- Deliver accurate wait times for pet owners so they know what to expect
- Allow patients and pet owners to wait from anywhere, relieving stress
- Give clinic staff control over patient flow for triaging
- Automate tedious queue management tasks like notifications
- Set up self check-in kiosks to free up staff time
Most importantly, a queue management system allows you to harness the power of automation. That way, if a new patient walks in or a pet owner is late for their appointment, you can keep things flowing knowing that your queue management system will automatically reconfigure the queue so that no time is wasted.
#2 Increased stress and anxiety among first-time pet owners
The pandemic not only saw an increase in pets overall, but also a large increase in first-time pet owners. As you’re probably well aware, first-time pet owners can be less experienced and therefore encounter more stress and anxiety when visiting your office.
An anxious pet parent can have cascading effects on your vet clinic operations that may not at first be obvious. Patients can feel their owners’ stress levels and may become more anxious themselves, especially in a new environment. With other patients and pet owners waiting, this can increase stress levels for everyone in your waiting area, negatively impacting everyone’s overall experience. When it’s time for the service, an anxious patient is often harder to treat – and takes more time.
Therefore, anything you can do to create an easy, smooth process from start to finish for pet owners and patients alike will be to your benefit. A queue management system puts the pet owner in control, easing their stress right from the get-go. You can set up your system to allow for check-ins from anywhere – that way, pet owners will be able to see an accurate wait time before they’ve even left their house. They can easily join a virtual waitlist or book an appointment and then time their arrival to make their wait in your office as short as possible.
Automatic notifications will keep pet owners in the loop and if they’re running late, they can simply text your office to let you know – your queue management system will take care of the rest. After the appointment, you can send a thank you message and personalized after-care instructions so the pet owner feels like your office has gone the extra mile.
#3 Ongoing staffing challenges at vet clinics and hospitals
The talent pool shortage for veterinarians and vet technicians became a real issue during COVID-19. The pandemic led to an increased workload for many clinics, many of which were not adequately staffed for the increase in volume. As a result, patients and pet owners saw increased wait times and staff members suffered from burnout.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, vet techs have the highest turnover rate among all health professions – and the demand for these positions is expected to outpace supply in the coming years. Also, according to The Atlantic, hospitals, clinics, and vet offices throughout the United States have been turning away pets in recent months due to a lack of personnel. This shuffling around of patients has affected all levels of the system, from general practice to specialists, with animal emergency rooms bearing the brunt of it.
In the face of this staffing shortage, vet clinics need to find a way to reduce patient wait times and keep operating as efficiently as possible. A queue management system will effectively manage patient flow, freeing up crucial staff time to devote to other tasks, such as patient care. And, by reducing wait times, queue management systems make it possible to see more patients in a day, increasing volume while delivering a better experience to pet owners.
With operational data and analytics, you’ll also be able to see key trends such as when your practice is busiest. That way, you can staff up for anticipated surges in patient volume based on day of the week or time of the day.
#4 Curbside veterinary services
There are many behavioral changes we made out of necessity during the pandemic that are now demonstrating staying power. One of these is the departure from traditional waiting rooms, and an increased reliance on curbside services.
According to The Bark, 77% of veterinarians offer curbside service. It’s a convenient offering from the pet owner’s point of view, but for a vet clinic or hospital it can be inefficient and put too much strain on staff.
That’s because manually managing a curbside service operation is a very tedious process, particularly when it comes to communicating with pet owners around patient drop-off and pick-up. But with a queue management system, you can offer your clients a curbside service process that’s delightful and – critically – efficient to run, setting your practice apart and building loyalty.
Curbside veterinary services pet owners will love
Boosting vet clinic operations with a queue management system
Unfortunately, the pressure on veterinary clinics and hospitals isn’t going to let up anytime soon. Patient volume continues to increase, well surpassing pre-pandemic figures. On top of that, staff burnout and a shortage of veterinary professionals is making it harder to deliver excellent care quickly.
A queue management system like Waitwhile will bring much-needed efficiencies to the operations of your vet practice. By automating patient flow, giving pet owners flexibility, and surfacing key operational insights, you’ll be able to service more patients, faster, while delivering a standout experience that’ll build your reputation.
Pets are family, and pet owners value, stay loyal to, and recommend clinics that go the extra mile to make vet visits enjoyable.