Many years ago, when I was the hospital administrator of a 5-doctor small animal practice, about this time of year we used to do what we called the “Big Clean”. This was an AAHA accredited practice with a highly demanding owner that was kept immaculately clean year-round. But even so, when we tackled this major cleaning project we found fur and syringe caps in the oddest places. (You won’t believe what is behind the paintings on the walls). This was an event that we planned on a Sunday when we were typically closed and everyone on the staff came in and played a role. It certainly does the team good to see the practice owner on his hands and knees scrubbing the base of the toilets. Even though it was “work” it was fun because we would provide lunch, assign everyone a section, and then laugh at the “interesting discoveries” we would find in this major scrub.
There was something cathartic about this deep clean. It was a time to reorganize desks, throw out old magazines and promotional flyers, dust behind pictures, move furniture and give the break room a deep scrub. Coming back in on that Monday to exceptionally organized and immaculate perfection was such a great feeling. Even though we knew it wouldn’t last, there was still something wonderful about starting the busy season of spring and summer off in great shape.
I recently read a post from a young technician who bemoaned the fact that she didn’t have the energy to really clean her house when she got off work. Basically, she had let things get so out of hand it was overwhelming and she was paralyzed as to how begin.
This is the status of many veterinary hospitals. We put off deep cleaning and organization, team training, investing in new technologies, updating our software to the point that it becomes overwhelming to even think about where to start.
TIME IS UNDER OUR CONTROL
Whether we believe it or not we are in control of our time. It’s about how we decide we want to commit it, then planning and following through.
Practices are currently busy and many are short-handed. Taking the time away from patient care to organize seems impossible. But just like a commitment to training, investing in organization makes us more efficient and enables us to provide better care. Not to mention, humans don’t do well in clutter.
When our mind is constantly overloaded and bombarded by too much stuff in our field of vision, it constantly uses energy to try to interpret what all those things are and if they are important. This is mentally fatiguing. Instead, when we pull down the tattered posters, put away the excess stock, organize the drawers and shelves, file or toss the journals, resolve the handwritten reminder notes, and handle all the other random items that tend to pile up, our mind is at peace. It takes effort to have to search for the things you need. Have them organized, labeled and handy. Then it is much easier to keep them that way.
UPDATE AND ORGANIZE TECHNOLOGY
This same theory goes for spring cleaning our technology. I often go into practices who have piecemealed the tools they use for communication. They have many monthly subscriptions to multiple vendors. Taking the time to review all these various technologies and then finding 1 or 2 that can be used instead is just like organizing the treatment room. Tools like #VitusVet allow us 2-way texting, to send reminders, push and e-mail notifications, allow our clients to see their pets records, allow us to get paid through a secure link, allow clients to request appointments, and even reminds our clients that their prescriptions need refills and at the touch of a button they can order those refills and through VetShipRx even have them home delivered. It’s kind of a 1-stop shop. It not only makes tracking client requests easier on one platform, but it will also save you money.
I encourage you to also do those software updates in your PIMs. With cybercrime running rampant, our providers are constantly putting in security patches to protect your computer records. You are at greater risk of exposure if you are not current. This is also a good time to confirm that your routine backups are really working and that the files are available.
WHEN IS THE LAST TIME YOU UPDATED HANDOUTS?
Take this time to update your handouts and standard estimates. Medicine moves and changes rapidly and often our information out to clients is dated. If you no longer use a product it is time to ditch those brochures. Just be sure to recycle!
BE BRUTAL! I promise you no longer need those old vaporizers! If you do have old equipment to donate please check out this charity https://www.projectvets.org/ . They take used but useful veterinary equipment and send it to underserved areas of the world where even that old dip tank for X- rays is a blessing.
Remember wherever you are in the northern hemisphere, spring is just around the corner. Invest time in spring cleaning and enjoy the results of an organized practice both physically and digitally. Give your stored and unused equipment to someone who needs it and give your mind a rest from clutter.
You will be glad you did!
If your practice needs help getting “spring cleaned” please feel free to reach out to me.