Inside AAHA: July 2022

AAHA board member Cheryl Smith, CVPM, talks about the benefits of technology in the practice. Also, a leadership change is announced for JAAHA, and our latest Research Recap from the Omnibus Survey.

View from the Board

Not Your Mentor’s Technology

I am dating myself when I tell you I remember the days of using a physical week-ata-glance appointment book. While we always had a computer loaded with the most up-to-date version of our practice information management software (PIMS), it served mainly as a client and patient information database with invoicing capabilities. We recorded basic, limited information about clients and patients in the PIMS while still utilizing the paper medical records. I would spend a half a day every month setting up the patient vaccine and lab work reminders to print on a noisy dot-matrix printer. Even once we added the appointment book module to the PIMS, the paper version sat on the front desk until everyone could trust the accuracy of the electronic information.

Later, practices were able to continuously innovate by adding new modules to accommodate service offerings such as boarding and integrate with other technologies such as lab and radiology equipment. PIMS evolved to include complete medical records including SOAP exam templates, surgical and hospitalization notes, and treatment plans for practices that desired a more paper-light operation. PIMS lab integration from accession assignment to receipt of results has existed for many years; however, sending results electronically via email and texting is now an integral feature for practices desiring to streamline communication.

The data in our PIMS also serves as our window into the financial health of the practice. Inventory represents one of the most significant costs for veterinary hospitals as well as, on average, 25% of gross income. Tracking inventory with attention to optimal quantities on hand, ordering, receipt, and pricing of cost of goods sold is integral to running a financially healthy practice. Sound financial management requires careful analysis of the valuable data in the PIMS to gauge the practice’s adherence to industry standards and identify areas of opportunity. However, even just a few years ago, most practices were only utilizing a small portion of the capability in their PIMS.

Then in 2020 came the COVID-19 pandemic. As the pandemic proved, practices already utilizing the full capabilities of their PIMS were able to adjust to curbside services and electronic communications with less disruption as they had an existing digital client communication strategy. Delivery of recommendations and laboratory results were streamlined for the more “connected” practices. The pandemic also brought staffing challenges that necessitated the utilization of more electronic communication. Email and texting became part of the solution to a relentless volume of phone calls, allowing for more flexible timing of the communication and even some remote employee options. We utilized a new texting platform that integrated with our PIMS, detailing entire conversations from curbside arrival to discharge and automatically syncing in the medical record without an employee needing to transcribe the notes. Client adoption was widespread, and we continue to use texting today.

Clients are increasingly demanding 24/7 access to appointment scheduling and to their pets’ medical history through the use of pet portals and apps. The available veterinary hospital apps can be used to educate, incentivize, inform, and reward clients. From our experience, utilizing an app that integrates well with your PIMS will encourage use by both your team and clients. I encourage you to explore the apps and consider the digital solutions in this issue of Trends

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Cheryl Smith, CVPM, is a director on the AAHA board. She earned her bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from Cornell University in 1985 and entered the world of veterinary medicine when she married a veterinarian. In 1994, her husband opened Galway Veterinary Hospital in Galway, New York, and as their children grew, so did Smith’s involvement with the AAHA-accredited practice, where she now serves as hospital administrator. Smith became a certified veterinary practice manager in 2009, and she graduated from the Veterinary Management Institute in 2011.

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Leadership Change at JAAHA

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Ann Hohenhaus, DVM, DACVIM

The Journal of the American Animal HospitalAssociation (JAAHAteam said farewell to long-time Associate Editor and Section Editor Linda Ross, MS, DVM, DACVIM, in March 2022 and welcomed a new Associate Editor into the role. 

“Linda has been outstanding in her dual roles of Associate Editor and Section Editor,” said JAAHA editor-in-chief Alan Rebar, DVM, PhD, DACVP. “Her vast experience and expertise in companion animal medicine have made her an invaluable resource not only in identifying and recruiting exceptional section editors and reviewers but also in dealing with the many technical, complex, and sometimes controversial issues that fall to the editor in chief.”

Ross, an associate professor emeritus at the Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, is a board-certified specialist in small animal internal medicine, with a special interest in nephrology, urology, and endocrinology. During her time at JAAHA, she was an Internal Medicine Section Editor for the journal and worked as the Associate Editor with Rebar from 2015 to 2022.

“Since the beginning of her tenure, Linda has always been my collaborator and peer in regard to setting the course for JAAHA policies,” Rebar added. “She will be missed.”

The entire JAAHA team would like to extend their heartfelt gratitude to Ross for her years of service to JAAHA and contributions to the profession and wish her all the best in her future endeavors.

Ann Hohenhaus, DVM, DACVIM, officially took over the role of Associate Editor in March and will also take over Ross’ position as a Section Editor for the journal. Hohenhaus is currently Senior Veterinarian, Director of Pet Health Information at the AAHA-accredited Schwarzman Animal Medical Center (AMC) in New York City.

“The Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association has been a constant resource during my veterinary career,” said Hohenhaus. “I’m honored to take on this new role and look forward to working with the JAAHA team.”

Hohenhaus is double-board certified in small animal internal medicine and oncology and maintains a clinical practice in oncology, internal medicine, and primary care. At AMC, Hohenhaus also creates content related to pet health care and the role of pets in public health, pens the AMC blog, hosts a monthly SiriusXM radio show and podcast, and serves as AMC hospital spokesperson for various media outlets.

“I am thrilled that Dr. Ann Hohenhaus has agreed to join JAAHA as Associate Editor and a Section Editor for Internal Medicine,” Rebar said. “She is an outstanding clinician who is widely published and is recognized nationally and internationally for her expertise in companion animal medicine and oncology. She brings great energy and enthusiasm as well as new ideas to her new roles with JAAHA. I look forward to our partnership.”

The AMC is the world’s largest nonprofit animal hospital with more than 120 veterinarians providing medical care across more than 20 specialties and services. AMC, the only Level 1 veterinary trauma center in New York City, also operates an emergency service, which is open 24 hours, every day of the year.

Find JAAHA online at jaaha.org.

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This month in AAHA’s Publicity Toolbox . . .

Here are the downloadable social media images available for AAHA-accredited members at aaha.org/publicity:

  • National Lost Pet Prevention Month
  • Independence Day July 4
  • Pet Fire Safety Day July 15
  • AAHA-accredited Hospital Day July 22
  • National Mutt Day July 31

Don’t forget:

AAHA-accredited Hospital Day—July 22  is YOUR day! Download social media images, find celebration ideas, and more in AAHA’s Publicity Toolbox.

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