Technology Helps Veterinarians Beat Burnout and Retain Staff, Survey Says

Technology Helps Veterinarians Beat Burnout and Retain Staff, Survey Says
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Right now, burnout is costing the veterinary industry $2 billion a year––which is 4% of the industry’s entire value, according to research by Cornell university. This study shows something that many veterinarians are acutely aware of: burnout is affecting the industry on a massive scale. Veterinary teams are struggling, with burnout being attributed to things like staff shortages, limited resources, exhaustion, meeting demand and a whole lot more, and are seeking out ways to protect their mental health at work.  

What veterinarian teams need and want now

Last week, Dr. Amy Mohl and Dr. Naomi Murray presented their results of a recent survey done by Clinicians Brief, during a Talkatoo hosted webinar. The survey, which included small animal veterinarians from both private and corporate practices, asked participants what their biggest challenges are right now in the profession. Here are the findings:

Where are veterinary professionals struggling

The survey shows that the most common issues veterinarians face falls into two categories––not enough time and energy, and a lack in resources and support. In fact, 72% of the 350 respondents said there’s never enough time to get things done. Burnout and stress are another challenge, according to 60% of respondents, followed by 48% noting too many records as a source of frustration. Survey results also show that 73% struggle with a lack in support staff and 35% complain there are not enough veterinarians to go around.

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Technology helps battle burnout by saving time

With professional burnout at an all time high, veterinarians, practice owners, and managers are clamoring to find ways to heal the problem and technology may be the remedy they’re looking for. “We know technology, although often slow to be adopted in our industry, has helped us make huge strides in veterinary medicine.” says Dr. Mohl. “Just think back in the day, if you are of a certain age, how we had to develop radiographs. That tiny little dark room with those gross stinky dunk tanks; the long process of dipping your images, just to get to the end to realize you didn’t get what you needed––it was blurry or crooked and you had to start over. That’s hours and hours of time lost just for a radiograph. And now with just a click of a button, you have your image; you see exactly what you need; you can send it off for someone to review it, and you’re moving on. From our own experiences in practice we know technology has improved client communication, has improved the quality of patient care in so many different areas, has increased efficiency, and really helps us integrate patient and practice data all into one system.”

“How quickly we went from having a certain burnout to everyone’s burnt out, everyone’s tired, everyone needs a raise, everyone’s quitting.”

–– Relief veterinarian in California, in conversation with Clinician’s Brief

The impact of technology in veterinary

To better gauge the industry-wide impact of technology, survey takers were asked a series of questions on the topic like, “Do you feel technology is helping you practice better medicine and be more efficient and if so, what technologies are most valuable to you?” More than 94% of veterinarians said that technology does play a key factor in practicing higher quality medicine and remaining more productive.

94% of veterinarians feel technology helps them practice better medicine and be more efficient.

— Clinician’s Brief findings

In terms of what technologies are most valuable to vets at the practice, digital reference materials like digital textbooks and social media groups (73%) EMRs (61%) and digital radiology support (55%) led the pack.

The survey also asked vets what challenge or aspect of the practice they think would benefit most from a new technology offering. The most common responses were centered around client communication, client education, help with recording keeping, and user-friendly EMRs.

How can technology help with staffing and recruiting challenges?

The compounded challenge of low staffing and increased demand for patient care has practices struggling to fill much needed roles. To help get a pulse on retention and hiring, respondents were asked: “What factors are most important to you when choosing a practice to work in?” Forty-seven percent said that it is something they consider when they’re choosing a job. When asked if technology impacted job satisfaction, over 75% of respondents shared that they feel new technologies and clinical tools are moderately to extremely important to their job satisfaction. Other factors veterinarians consider when choosing where to work, includes quality of medicine at number one (91%) and salary and benefit number two at (77%).

What technologies are clinics investing in

The study found that over the next year, 63% of practices are planning to invest in staff, followed by equipment, marketing, and practice management systems. “We know investing in technology is part of investing in staff and making sure you have the tools your team needs to succeed and have job satisfaction is really important. We also know it is important to make sure the technology implemented works and that users feel comfortable with it, and that they actually use it,” Dr. Murray says. When asked what would help veterinarians readily adopt new technology and digital tools, respondents say they want to be properly trained—whether in person, with a group, on-demand, or one on-one.

Staff is the #1 investment for practices in the next year

––Clinician’s Brief finding 

Bring in staff and beat burnout with technology

Veterinary professionals are struggling––burnout is rampant, staff turnover has reached epic proportions and vet staff are just all around overworked and under-satisfied. Everyone is looking for a solution and we have clear evidence how technology can open the door leading to a way out. With that said, if you want to retain your staff and keep burn out at bay, here are some points to consider:

  1. Investing in technology is a smart choice to help reduce burnout, improve efficiency, and keep clients and staff happy while improving patient health. 
  2. Remember that technology can help you recruit and retain talent. If you’re not highlighting your technology resources in your practice, definitely start now. If you don’t have anything to highlight in your practice around technology, figure out what makes sense for your practice and start changing things up.
  3. Make sure to train staff properly on existing or new technologies. Staff want and need formal training to ensure everyone is comfortable with new or existing technology and will be more likely to adopt and use it. 
  4. Help your team streamline their pain points. Provide tools for client education and client communication that offers a better experience for pet owners, and for your veterinary teams.

Start with simple tools with major impact – like dictation software

Earlier, we noted the areas where vet staff are struggling and nearly 50% said managing medical records is a big challenge. Using technology as a means for better time management may seem obvious — but often, we forget that we can access a wide assortment of tools and programs designed to improve productivity and more.

Speech-to-text dictation is all about minimizing the amount of time you spend filling out medical records and retyping notes you’ve already written. By using voice recognition software, you can speak your notes rather than write them down, and the program will translate the speech to text.

For many of us, typing is not the most advanced skill we have. It can be slow and time-consuming, especially if you have to spend extra time making sure you spell a complicated medical term correctly.

The biggest hurdle you may encounter with a dictation program is its inability to understand or process what you are saying. This situation happens often. To prevent miscommunication, you should use a dictation program specifically designed for your veterinary field of work.

Talkatoo is one such program that is consistently able to recognize and spell some of the more technical and medical terms used in veterinary practice. It knows exactly what you mean and will transfer your notes as-is. This way, you don’t have to waste time trying to transcribe a complicated note — you can let Talkatoo do that for you as you get back to working with your patients.

If you’re interested in finding out more, book a demo with us and we’ll show you how Talkatoo can cut your documentation time in half.

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