How Dictation Software Helps One Veterinary Clinic With More Than Just Medical Records
Like most practice owners, Dr. Lindsay Ruland was constantly looking for ways to improve efficiency.
As the owner of Emergency Veterinary Hospital (EVH) in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a 24 hour emergency clinic with 33 staff members that sees both small animals and exotics, Dr. Ruland was in need of ways to improve workflow for herself and her team.
Day-to-day responsibilities like client communications, discharge instructions, and surgery reports were taking up a huge portion of EVH’s day. “What we found,” Dr. Ruland says, “is that our doctors were staying very very late (after their shifts) just working to complete medical records.” One day, one of the hospital’s doctors brought up the idea of dictation to Dr. Ruland—but she was hesitant at first.
From Misconceptions to Magic
Anyone who has used talk-to-text features on their phone knows the struggle of sending a text they didn’t mean. Dr. Ruland was no stranger to this, had also used other dictation software outside the practice, and it seemed like it took a really long time to learn the program. As a mom and a practice owner, she just didn’t have the time to train programs to listen correctly.
The veterinarian who had mentioned dictation was persistent in her quest for Dr. Ruland to give it a chance. Eventually, she gave in and contacted Talkatoo, a dictation tool with a specialized veterinary dictionary built-in. Dr. Ruland was blown away during their product demo.
“Every member of the Talkatoo team we’ve spoken with has been supportive and genuine - you just don’t get that feeling or that vibe when you’re talking to other companies, who make you feel like they’re just looking to improve their product for a financial gain,” said Dr. Ruland.
Now, Dr. Ruland uses dictation more than anybody on her team. “I think that in veterinary medicine,” she says, “we always talk about improving efficiency from a financial standpoint (improve efficiencies and increase your revenue). But what I didn’t understand is it’s so much more than that: when you improve efficiency of your team, they can finish their work in a manner where they don’t have to think about the records when they go home. They can go home and just focus on being with their family or refreshing themselves outside of work.”
Finishing tasks on time, getting out of work when your shift ends, not stressing about incomplete records: these are “side effects” of dictation (as Dr. Ruland calls them) that she could have never fathomed. “Worst case scenario is the product isn’t working for you, but best case it’s going to improve your efficiency and the work/life balance of your team. It also takes away the shorthand, so that your records can be read by other practices.”
Talk About the Future
Dr. Ruland was also amazed at how easy it was to set up Talkatoo for her practice. All that’s needed is a computer and some microphones which are provided. With the push of a button, she is able to be halfway through a report template in no time. “I also like that Talkatoo really can be incorporated into multiple platforms and programs,” she says; “I obviously use it for my medical records, but I also use it in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint presentations I do for my team every two weeks, which helps me put these together in about 20 minutes now.”
EVH currently has 5-6 team members using Talkatoo dictation and even has a system set up to incorporate it into new protocols for front end duties. They frequently use the customizable dictionary to enter in terms that may otherwise not be picked up and spelled correctly by other dictation tools.
Using templates to fill out surgery reports for ER patients, Dr. Ruland quickly realized that dictation helps with the puzzle that no two patients are the same. You can have your template set up, but what happens during surgery is always different; not all patients are going to fit in a box. Dictation helps with this by letting practices quickly enter in notes that are unique to each patient.
A Better Work/Life Balance
“In veterinary medicine, we have a tendency to be afraid of taking that step. Sometimes we overthink it, like ‘What’s my return on investment for that product?’ I don’t know if I could specifically pull out numbers for it, but I can tell you that you can’t really quantify the moral improvement by bringing something like this on,” Dr. Ruland says.
In addition to trying to improve practice efficiency, practice owners and managers are always looking to improve company culture. Whether it’s bringing in people to do massages, or giving them vacations, it didn’t dawn on Dr. Ruland that the answer to improving culture was improving time on shift more. When it comes to work/life balance, trying to cover up stressful shifts with bandaids doesn’t solve the problem.
Dr. Ruland believes that the start to a better personal life can start with a better work life: “You must find ways for a shift to feel purposeful, and for team members to feel accomplished by the end of it. If that means having all of your records completed, then you can leave feeling confident that you don’t have that work looming in the back of your brain. Dictation has really been a game-changer.”
Dr. Ruland could not recommend dictation enough: especially Talkatoo. To learn more about how dictation can also be a game-changer for your practice, visit Talkatoo.com.
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